I’ve taken particular care to run my post through a spell check today. Why the unusual attention to detail? I hear you say. Well, my visitor this week is a retired English Professor from Norfolk State University – so I’m double-checking my grammar!
John previously designed and taught a course in how to write Science Fiction and Fantasy – now that’s my sort of Professor! He is a former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers’ Association (cool again!) and has published approximately 350 stories and over a dozen books, including several SF action-adventure novels.
Oh, I’d love to see the ocean from there! Where is your favourite place in the world? When I was younger, it used to be Florida, because of the beautiful, summery weather. Now I’m leery about all their hurricanes. I think the Tidewater area where I live is pretty darn fine. Basically, my favourite place depends on where my friends and loved ones are, and right now, most of them are located here.
After reading Carl Hiaasen’s books, I understand the power of a Florida hurricane!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Being a Managerial Trainee in a restaurant that was open twenty-four hours a day. It was hard work, and I was temperamentally ill-suited to do it. Learning to be a cook was difficult, especially keeping all those different orders going at the same time on the grill. I did learn to plate those hash browns, though! I had to sweep the floor, bus tables, wash and dry dishes, you name it. Talk about multi-tasking. I was constantly moving and doing something I didn’t much like. It was a way of life and unfortunately, it was not MY way.
I can totally understand that. I once worked in a hotel restaurant, and the level of stress was unbelievable.
What book do you wish you’d written? You know, there are so many books I’ve loved, but I don’t know that I’d wish I’d written any of them because it would mean I’d be taking them away from the authors and creators who had actually conceived and written them. As a lover of science fiction, I could mention Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and in the same series, Speaker for the Dead. More than anything else, I write cosmic action-adventure SF featuring aliens and (I hope) mind-blowing, mind-expanding concepts. When I encounter a novel or a story that transcends mine in that area, I may feel envy but rarely a desire that I had written it. After all, someone else did.
I’ll add those books to my SF library!
What’s your favourite song? I have so many. When I was younger, “Maria” from West Side Story was my favourite for a long time. It lasted and lasted. Now I never sing or even hum it. Other songs that I love sometimes depend on the version and who sings it for their staying power. It’s hard to beat Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Amazing Grace,” depending on the singer and instrumentation. I could give you a list of two or three dozen songs which are right up near the top and continue to resonate inside me.
Amazing Grace is one of my favourite hymns, too.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? It would probably be my father, mother, or sister, all of whom are dead. I don’t know which one I’d choose if I only had one choice. I’d probably flip a coin. I have things I’d like to talk about with each of them. It seems there’s never enough time when you’re alive, and this cliché is true: you seldom say everything you should to the people you love or the one RIGHT thing. The first thing I’d say is that I love them and miss them and I wish I’d been a better son or brother. Of course I’d like to ask them about heaven or the afterlife, about how they feel about me now and if they’re happy, and hash out some old gripes and grievances and misunderstandings. However, I hope I’d have the sense to let sleeping dogs and resentments lie and remember the good times. After all, there are plenty of them. Maybe in the time we had we could even create some new ones.
As a writer, why wouldn’t I want to meet someone like Octavia E. Butler or William Shakespeare? Or some great living writer? Well, to me, I’ve found that meeting writers is often chancy and likely to be a disappointment, as it would be probably, if someone chose to meet me. Besides, I have their books and plays to read, watch, and listen to, which is the important thing.
I’m sorry you have lost so many family members. I think all of us would give anything to talk once more to our loved ones. If it were really in my gift, you wouldn’t have to flip a coin – you could talk to all of them.
What’s your happiest childhood memory? Christmas mornings were fun, as were Trick or Treat Halloween nights. Shooting 40 with a rifle (a record) at Camp Hawkeye when I was around eleven or twelve. One time when I was a small kid, we visited a family which had a boy my age. We hit it off real well, and our closeness was something I haven’t quite experienced since. No adult self-consciousness and awareness of separateness or difference, if you know what I mean. I mean, we were one.
That sounds a truly great friendship. And a camp called Camp Hawkeye sounds awesome!
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Oh boy, do you ask good questions. First, it couldn’t be anyone too heroic, too demonic, too intelligent, too dominant or larger than life. I know I’m probably overlooking some better characters I’ve read about or watched, but the character Lucy Spendler who marries the protagonist Rabbi David Hartman in Howard Fast’s The Outsider comes to mind (I’m reading the book now.) She’s loyal, she’s loving, she’s pragmatic, she’s intelligent, she’s a good bed partner, and she puts up with his masculine selfishness and “mystical weird beliefs,” but not without finally blowing her stack and giving him a more realistic assessment of the world than he ever could. David’s Jewish, she’s not very Jewish, and I’m not very Jewish either. Yes, Lucy would make a darn good wife for me, a much better wife than I deserve. But then I already have a much better wife than I deserve. Her name is Jane, and she’s been trying to set me straight for nearly forty-six years. Talk about bad jobs (see the question above about the worst job I’ve ever had.)
Great answer! What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? Not to be neurotic and not to let events in the past continue to bother and gnaw at me. Or to state it positively: I should enjoy life and try to live it simply because I won’t be here long, and it’ll be easier on me and those who know me if I don’t dwell on insults and past wrongs. Hey, just tell me how to do it!
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
Kingdom of the Jax is Book II in the Inspector of the Cross series. Book I is Inspector of the Cross. The tagline for the series is: Can Turtan, our greatest hero, save humanity from invincible aliens?
For four thousand years Turtan has traveled to distant worlds in suspended animation seeking a weapon or device that can turn the tide against humanity’s alien enemy.
Blurb – Kingdom of the Jax:
Accompanied by Yaneta, his beautiful alien bride, Turtan travels across the stars to Cross Imperial Station. The Jax, Overseers of the universe, have given him an amazing navigational device which can enable the Cross to quickly defeat their seemingly invincible enemy, the Cen, and end their five-thousand-year-old war.
But will the Emperor welcome him to the station or order the execution of both him and his wife? Turtan is, after all, endlessly resourceful and may learn the emperors’ terrible secret and act of betrayal concealed these past five hundred years. Even if he is spared, Yaneta is still a member of the enemy and may be killed instantly.
To succeed in his mission, Turtan faces an almost impossible task, one requiring not only luck but the full range of all the skills he has acquired in four thousand years as an elite agent.
It is his greatest challenge ever.
Kingdom of the Jax is available at MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK and elsewhere.
Buy links: MuseItUp at http://tinyurl.com/mkyv3ro
Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/kkpa7pl
Amazon UK at http://tinyurl.com/nqg8pff
Thanks so much for coming, John, and for your brilliant and considered answers. I love the sound of your novel. I love SF in general (unusually, for a romance writer), and I also really like your fabulous cover artwork.
If you have any questions for John, or any comments at all, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
Thanks again, John, and have a good trip home to Virginia Beach!