Q & A with Sheriff and Author Terry Ashe on the release of his latest book, Ashes of Bluebird
By BECKY ANDREWS
What made you decide to write a book now?
I started this project more than 10 years ago at the urging of my good friends, Carl and Yvonne Wallace. l decided to start the process of writing it with the help from the late, Brooks Franklin. At the time, Brooks was the Senior Staff Writer for The Lebanon Democrat. Shortly after we started working together Brooks lost his battle with cancer. The book was shelved for a while. I put the notes and research for the book in what I thought was a safe place but an air conditioner leak ruined 80% of that material so I just sort of gave up on it. Two years ago I ran into veteran journalist, Terri Merryman [most people know her from her time behind the anchor desk at WSMV in Nashville] at a function. She said to me, ‘You can talk about writing it or just do it.’ That’s when we teamed up. She has been a huge guiding light through this whole process.
Ashes of Bluebird is a collection of stories about your law career. Was it hard to decide what stories to include?
I took the nasty politics out of it. That’s for another book. What I tried to accomplish with Ashes of Bluebird is a few highlights of different cases in my 40 plus years in law enforcement. We had to cut it down from the original 1,000 pages but I intend to use all of those stories in the future. No single story or case is more important than the others. All of them are full of triumphs and tragedies. That’s why there will possibly be more books.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
I wanted it to be interesting and really represent the point I was trying to make with writing the book. I grew up on Bluebird Road so it made sense. The photo on the cover was taken near Bluebird Road in the fall of 1983 during a dog fight raid right after the suspects turned pit bulls loose on me and my deputies. Everyone who ever lived here knew the reputation of Blue Bird. “I set out to clean it up.”
Will there be a follow up book?
Hopefully, we’ll see how this first one goes. This book needs to stand on its own. I hope it does well.
What will readers be surprised to find out about you?
If they haven’t lived here (Wilson County] that long, they will probably be surprised at how I was raised. I was very poor so it was a rough life but we didn’t know you can’t miss what you never had. Readers will find out the worst parts of my life; the mistakes, everything. Nothing is off limits. I did this because I think it’s important for people to see how I took lessons learned through bad experiences and now apply those life experiences to everyday life. It definitely makes me more relatable.
Tell me about the threats/ contracts you’ve had out on your life during your career?
Where can people pick up a copy of Ashes of Bluebird?
Right now you can order from the websites, www.ashesofbluebird.com, www.amazon,com and www.barnesancdnoble.com. A few retailers will be carrying it soon as well.
There are some children who dream of a career in law enforcement, what advice do you have for them?
Never give up. For a short time I thought about going into veterinary medicine before I was drafted during the Vietnam War but my dreams were centered on a career in law enforcement. My career started after returning from Vietnam. I share a little about my experience on the battlefield in the book. I think I would tell anyone who has a dream of doing anything career wise, that you have to work hard and above all, put God first because there’s a purpose for everything you do in life and if you have God as your center it’s so much easier. I was lucky to grow up in a Christian home and that foundation is what has helped me in every aspect of life – good and bad. I‘m living a childhood dream.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Definitely keeping the trust of the people here in Wilson County That trust has allowed me to be the 2nd longest running sheriff in the history of Tennessee. When I really stop to think about the gravity of that, it really humbles me.