|Author John King|
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: At the very least by ten years old. In fifth grade they asked us to write poems about the seasons and I loved it. Somehow—I guess from seeing the Beat poets reciting on TV—I knew a poem did not necessarily have to rhyme. My poem was a success and printed on the first page of our “book.” I immediately felt like I’d discovered the path I wanted to take.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: I’d say about a year of real work with a lot of downtime in between. I was lucky to be able to write the first drafts of my novels in two weeks each, but then I spent months rewriting them.
Q: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
A: I’ve become a morning person. That’s when I have the most energy. Three hours a day satisfies me in the initial creation of something. But if I am rewriting, then the work can go on all day, and well into the night.
Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A: Sometimes it can begin with a question that pops into my head. A “what if” situation. Others times someone might tell me of an event that they heard about or which happened to them. A few times it’s been hearing about a true crime which strikes me hard for its audacity or tragedy.
Q: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A: Reading of course. I like to read so much it can prevent me from writing. At other times in my life I’ve been obsessive about studying French, painting, playing the tenor saxophone, and working out.
Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
A: I like when I am rereading something and forget that I wrote it. That I can capture myself so to speak, and find myself wondering, “Where’d I get that idea from?”
Q: Can you visualize your book as a movie? Who would have the starring roles as your characters?
A: Yes, I think much of my work could be written for the screen, especially my novels, The Big Mouth and Maid of Honor. As far as casting, I don’t know. Elmore Leonard, whose work has been brought to the big screen many times, said he didn’t like to describe what his characters looked like. Let the reader imagine them for themselves. However, when I was trying to imagine who would make a good Lena, the wife in The Big Mouth, I thought of Diane Lane whom I like a lot. But, my wife disagreed, so there you are.
Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring authors become better writers? If so, what are they?
A: I’ve published four books so far. I think Maid of Honor is my favorite because the lives of its characters have stayed with me more than the others. Sometimes I wake up hearing them speaking their lines. They are very real for me.
As far as becoming a better writer, I’d say, read books on the craft of writing. Analyze the books you like and the books you want to write. Try to figure out why they work.
Q: What do you think makes a good story?
A: Conflict, mystery, and suspense. What makes people stop what they are doing and concentrate on something else? An altercation of some kind. They ask, “What is this all about? What’s going to happen next?” The thing is not only to create conflict, mystery, and suspense, but to resolve it in a satisfying way for the reader.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: No. Each reader takes away what they will and I can’t control it without being heavy-handed. If I were, then I think they’d tire quickly.
Q: How much of the book is realistic?
A: I think everything in all my work is realistic. Believability is very important to me. You’ll never find anyone dodging machine gun bullets in my stories. Not that you’ll find any machine guns. I write about real people. It’s important for me that their actions and reactions ring true to the reader.
Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A: That would be telling, but of the three novellas in Hat Trick, I’ll say one began as hypothetical question, one was spawned from a tragic story I heard, and one was a imaginary take off on a personal experience.
Q: What books have most influenced your work most?
A: I have many favorite authors. Too many to name, but John Fowles’ The Magus is one which I read thirteen times, spent many hours researching, and have written about. I even went to Greece to retrace the steps of its protagonist. I was under the influence of this novel when I created the narrator of my second novel, Maid of Honor. They are both cads.
But I also have to mention Ruth Rendell as an inspiration. Some years ago I became an avid fan, but it was in reading her short stories that I realized that simple narrative tales of suspense written for the mystery magazines could transcend the genre and become art. It was like an epiphany for me, bringing home the most important truth: “Tell a story, stupid!”
I also want to mention Elmore Leonard, whose narrative style influenced my first novel, The Big Mouth.
Q: What are your current projects? work?
A: I’ve got a few things going right now: a non-fiction piece on two of my favorite novels, another book of short stories, and hardest of all, my third novel.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: Coming up with a complete plot that goes beyond the initial idea. Many projects just fizzle up because I don’t know where they are going or can’t answer the questions I set up for the reader. An example would be sitting down to write a mystery and not being able to solve it yourself.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: Read everything and watch everything. Listen to people. Ideas come from all over. But read the types of things you wish to write and read books on the craft of writing. They will open your eyes to issues you might not have thought about.
Click this link to download Hat Trick free on Kindle May 7 through May 11.