I was recently interviewed by P.C. Zick for her "Author Wednesday" feature series. Check out the Q&A below! 

Hello, John. I’m glad you stopped by today. Your latest novel sounds very exciting, but before we talk about that why don’t you tell readers a little bit about your writing life. What are your writing rituals?
Other than a need for copious amounts of coffee, I can’t say I have many writing rituals. In fact, I’m quite undisciplined as a writer, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I’m not an outliner; the story creates itself as I progress. I have a general theme, an overall concept, and an ultimate outcome, but the details work themselves out along the way. I like to believe that as a result my writing doesn’t come out formulaic or predictable.

I work a bit like you do. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who writes that way. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.
In real life, my professional career has been in environmental protection, so Rachel Carson holds a special place in my heart. But more germane to the question, I believe she’s correct: the subjects have chosen me for each of the four novels I’ve written. Two of my books emerged from unanswerable questions that swirled around in my head for years. Fava (Black Rose Writing, 2014): “What would happen if a “Pillar of Islam” were to be removed?” and, Aceldama (as yet unpublished): “What if a person were to stumble upon one of Judas’s thirty pieces of silver?” The subject presented itself in a different way for my novel Journey of an American Son, (to be released by Black Rose Writing in November 2014). I found a diary my grandfather kept on a 1920 business trip he took going from Boston to Calcutta, India. At that time, travel was somewhat arduous; he traveled by train, boat, car, and even rickshaw. Along the way he encountered lepers, geishas, and silent film starlets. It struck me as a great starting point for a novel.

I’m impressed by so much of what you said in that answer! We have a lot in common, since all my novels tend to have an environmental theme, and Rachel Carson is one of my heroes. I love the idea of your grandfather’s diary. What an experience. I can’t wait to read it. Do you have a favorite character that you created?
All my characters are like my children and what type of parent would I be if I favored one over another? Seriously though, one of my favorite things is when I introduce a minor character simply to advance the plot but, as I continue writing, that character grows before my eyes. Soon he or she becomes a major figure, integral to the book itself. In Fava, Special Agent Will Allen was introduced as a roadblock for the protagonist, Francine Vega, to overcome but eventually he teams with her to help save the world. In Journey of an American Son, Walter Jones was Ben Albert’s sergeant during the First World War, but I bring him back to help Ben’s wife in her attempts to free her husband from jail in Calcutta after he is framed for murder. These characters tend to be my richest because I’m developing them for myself as well as for the reader. I also like to take famous historical figures and peel away the myths that surround them to show them as real human beings. The three characters I’ve dealt with thus far are Ulysses S. Grant, Mahatma Gandhi, and Judas Iscariot!

You pulled in the big guns. What’s your one sentence pitch for Fava?
Can a beautiful, talented New York TV reporter thwart a maniacal plot to exact the ultimate revenge for 9-11 before it plunges the world into war?

That’s a great hook. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
A review of Fava by Midwest Book Reviews contained all the things an author likes to hear: “terrific premise,” “holds the reader’s entertained attention from beginning to end,” “very highly recommended,” but the part the got me the most was when they noted it was “deftly written.” High praise indeed. On a local level, I did a book signing at a bookstore, and they posted the event on Twitter. A man I’d never met retweeted it saying I was one of his favorite writers, and he was glad they were supporting me. Made my day, I must say.

That’s a great thing, for sure. How did you choose the title?
The title Fava didn’t become apparent to me until about half way through the book. In fact, the reader won’t become aware of what the title means until exactly the same time, which I think is kind of neat.

I like that. I can’t wait to figure it out. If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?
My favorite all-time book is To Kill a Mockingbird so I’d love to meet Harper Lee, but I know how much she cherishes her privacy, and I would be reluctant to invade on that privacy. So, the two I would pick are J.K. Rowling and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am in such awe of the Harry Potter series. It would be such a thrill just being able to converse with the person who could create such a world. I’ve loved a number of Kearns Goodwin’s books. No Ordinary Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Also, I’ve seen her on news programs. She’s so interesting and knowledgeable on so many subjects that I’d imagined she be a wonderful dinner companion.

Excellent choices. I’d like to know why Harper Lee never wrote another book! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, John. I hope you’ll come back when your next book is published. And I promise to move Fava up high on my TBR list.

Have any questions for me? Send a message by clicking the "Contact Me" link at the very top of this page. For more interviews like this one or to learn more about P.C. Zick, please visit her website: http://pczick.com. 

I recently had a great opportunity to sit down with Maer Wilson - writer of urban fantasy, and occasionally horror and paranormal mysteries - to talk about my most recent release, Fava. Check out the Q&A below! 

Maer:  Thanks for joining us to tell us about your new book.

John:  And thank you for having me to talk about my suspense thriller,Fava. It’s the fourth novel I’ve written but the first to be published (Black Rose Writing), I’ve self-published one, Dear Dad, while the other two are in the wings, awaiting publication.

Maer:  What is a one line synopsis for your book?

John:  Fava is about a New York City TV reporter who finds she must foil a lotto jackpot winner’s ultimate 9-11 revenge plot before it plunges the world into war.

Maer:  This novel sounds fascinating. Is this a stand-alone or part of a series?

John:  I wrote it as a stand-alone but have since decided to follow it up with a sequel.

Maer:  Looking forward to it. Do you use beta readers and, if so, what qualities do you look for in a beta?

John:  I do use beta readers. They have to be intelligent, critical in a constructive sort of way, well-read and have some level of connection with me and with what I’m trying to say. I’ve found the two best beta readers one could hope for: my wife, Lynn, and my sister-in-law, Nancy.

Maer:  What is the funniest or oddest thing that has happened to you as an author?

John:  I gave Fava to Nancy for her review and critique. She got back to me with three specific criticisms that didn’t seem to ring true relative to my main character, Francine Vega. They were all easily fixable and I made the changes. I then meant to give the amended version to Lynn for her review but I mistakenly gave her the original version. She then came back to me with the same three points, pretty much verbatim, that needed changing. After that I figured I was on the right track.

Maer:  Sounds it. Which character, other than Francine, is one of your favorites to write and why?

John:  My favorite characters are the ones who literally grow in front of my eyes. In each of my books I’ve introduced minor characters who were useful to advance the plot at that particular point. However, as the story matured in my mind, so did those characters. In the end, they became major characters, integral to the book. InFava, for example, FBI Special Agent Will Allen was introduced only as a temporary roadblock that the main character, Francine Vega, had to get around but he ends up teaming with Francine to foil the plot. I feel the most proud of these characters, feeling that I truly brought them to life from nothing.

Maer:  I knwo that feeling. If you had to pick a color to describe Francine what would that be and why?

John:  I’d say definitely red. There’s a fire there, a drive in her to keep going despite the odds and despite constant danger that she’s in.

Maer:  Who are your favorite authors to read?

John:  My reading tastes are pretty eclectic. One week I’ll be reading a Doris Kearns Goodwin history and then veer off into a Stephen King novel and then a John Steinbeck classic. I’ll go through spurts where I can’t get enough of one author. I  plowed through everything Robert Ludlum ever wrote and then another time I read all of James Michener’s novels. Lately I’ve started reading Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc murder mysteries. They’re good and they’re set in Paris. What else could you ask for?

Maer:  What else, indeed! Can you share a bit about the project you’re working on now?

John:  I have several projects going on at the same time. I’m in the early stages of writing a sequel to Fava, one that will reach back to some dark secrets from World War II. Another thing I’m doing is getting one of my unpublished novels, Journey of an American Son, finalized and ready for submission to my publisher, Black Rose Writing. Lastly, I’ve been working with a friend of mine who’s in television to pitch another of my unpublished novels, Aceldama, which we’ve developed into both a screenplay and a series pilot.

Maer:  Busy guy! What do you do when you’re not writing?

John:  Well, since I haven’t quite gotten to the point where writing can pay the bills, I have my day job in environmental protection. In my other time I enjoy spending it with my wife whether we’re traveling, playing tennis or watching Castle reruns.

Maer:  What influenced you to write in your genre? Do you write in others?

John:  All my books can be considered suspense. I’ve always been a history buff and I love incorporating history into my books whether it’s the Civil War, colonial India or Israel during the time of Roman occupation.  I don’t write in other genres, but it would all depend on the particular influence if it put a particular idea into my head at a particular time. For example, I stumbled on a diary my grandfather wrote during a business trip he took in 1920 when his company sent him from Boston to Calcutta, India. That diary became the setting and inspiration for Journey of an American Son. Who knows what else is out there that could point me in a different direction?

Maer:  Oh that’s very cool. What music, if any, do you like to listen to while writing?

John:  Like my reading tastes, I have an eclectic music collection that ranges from classical to standards to rock to reggae. However, while I’m writing I generally like peace and quiet.

Maer:  John, thanks again for stopping by. Do you have anything you’d like to add?

John:  I hope people enjoy reading Fava as much as enjoyed writing it. I recently took part in a local author event at the Well Read Bookstore in Hawthorne, NJ. They tweeted some pictures from the event and one person (that I’d never met) retweeted it with a quote: John Hazen is one of my favorite authors. I’m glad to see you supporting him. Well, that certainly made my day and hopefully I can gather a few more people along the way who think of me as ‘one of their favorite authors.’ So, thank you once again for having me. In parting I do have one question I now ask when I talk about Fava: What would you do if you were to win a lottery jackpot?

Maer:  A question I think almost everyone has pondered at one time or another. Mine is an easy answer for me: in addition to the usual help family and friends, travel, etc., I’d set up a foundation for artists: performers, writers, visual arts. We’d nurture new artists as they begin their careers – no matter what their age – and help them along their journey.

Have any questions for me? Send a message by clicking the "Contact Me" link at the very top of this page. For more interviews like this one or to learn more about Maer Wilson, please visit her website: maerwilson.com
I’ve just started to work on my fifth novel. It’s my first sequel, which in itself is a new venture for me.

If anyone out there is keeping score (Okay, nobody out there cares one way or another but let me delude myself a little bit), they may remark that I’ve only gotten one book published (Fava, which was recently published by Black Rose Writing) and one other that I self-published (Dear Dad, Amazon, 2012). This means that I have two others, waiting in the wings to be discovered.

Now, don’t get the impression that I haven’t tried very hard to get all my books discovered. Like the vast majority of writers out there, I’ve received countless rejections from agents and publishers alike (or even worse than the rejections are the ‘if you don’t hear from us assume that your work isn’t right for us’). I do sometimes ask myself the immortal questions: Why write? and Why set yourself up for disappointment after disappointment?

The answer that I keep coming back to is that I write for me. For me.

Perhaps I’d be more successful if I thought more about a target audience and tailored my books toward that audience. But that would make writing into a job. It would rob me of the quality of writing that makes it so special, so rewarding.

I write for me. Hopefully I’m not all that different from the rest of the world and what I write, what I find special, will resonate with others and be special to them as well. But if not, c’est la vie!

I’d like to know why other writers write. Are they trying to reach the masses? Certain people? Certain segments of the population?  Or do they write for themselves?