Frequently Asked Questions
2. When is John’s next book coming out?
John has just completed the first book in his new Viridis series and is working on the sequel to Multiplayer. Viridis will be available in fall of 2015 and the sequel to Multiplayer will come out in early 2016.
3. How did John become a writer?
He had an idea one day (The Silla Project), started writing, and almost immediately decided it was his favorite thing to do.
4. Where does John get story ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. Anytime you have two people who want different things you have conflict. Story is built from this dramatic tension. John has always been inundated with story ideas; he just didn’t realize they were story ideas until he decided to write a book one day!
5. Who are John’s favorite authors?
Like a lot of adults his age, John has always loved J.R.R. Tolkien. But, strangely, John has never been interested in writing fantasy. His primary inspiration comes from two authors: Michael Crichton and, perhaps most strongly, James P. Hogan. He also enjoys works by John Grisham and most of the classic Sci-Fi masters like Asimov, Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke.
6. What is John’s writing process?
This is strongly dependent on the writing cycle. John plots his novels very carefully before he starts writing – a lesson he learned through hard knocks. During the planning stage there is a lot of research, brainstorming, and ordering of events on note cards. When he actually starts writing, John will write all day long when not doing engineering work. When busy with his day job, John will write in the evenings or when time allows.
7. I have a great story idea! Will John consider writing it?
John already has too many ideas to write them all and, sadly, for legal reasons, he can’t provide feedback on your ideas. His suggestion would be to turn your idea into your own great story. YOU might be the next great novelist!
8. What would John say is the trick to writing a book?
Start. Don’t stop until you are finished. That’s really all there is to it.
9. Will John read my manuscript and give me his opinion?
For legal reasons John cannot read unpublished material.
10. What advice would John give to aspiring writers?
An idea isn’t a story. Writing a story is much harder than people think and is far more than typing at a keyboard. Stories are filled with all sorts of structure that doesn’t just happen. Most of the bad books you read, and bad movies you see, are bad because they lack this all-important structure. If you really want to write novels or screenplays get a copy of Story by Robert McKee, read it, study it, internalize it. It will make turning your idea into a story much easier.
11. Can John suggest a good agent or good publisher?
Most agents and publishers with clients are good. They are very easy to locate in a variety of literary publications and online. Learn to query then contact the ones who fit your style. Be warned: getting their attention is much harder than getting their contact information!
13. Where can I get an autographed copy of one of John’s books?
14. Does John have interests besides writing?
John is an avid motorcyclist and fitness junkie. He also follows European soccer and SEC football. He is passionate about encouraging kids to pursue mathematics and science and likes helping them to see how these subjects can lead to great careers.
15. What is the one piece of advice John would give to a young person?
Stop watching television and go do something creative!
16. When is John coming to my town to give a talk?
Book an Author Visit and it might be sooner than you think!
17. Why do you have a sextant as your logo?
I'm a navigation engineer by trade. The sextant was the first instrument mariners could use to accurately determine longitude - making navigation possible. My father was a navigator aboard naval aircraft and used sextants. My childhood hero was Johannes Kepler, the father of analytic geometry and Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion which make navigation possible. Sextants are used on ships for navigation. Ships are used for long voyages. Life is a journey and you often need help figuring out where you are. The sextant was really the first instrument devised by man that allowed people to figure out where they were by blending observation, physics, and mathematics. This is what books do. Good books not only take us on journeys but they help us figure out where we are in life and where we are going.
18. Why does The Silla Project have religious stuff in it?
I get this question from time to time and occasionally receive bad reviews on Amazon and elsewhere for including 'religious' content in The Silla Project. It seems people feel they are being preached to. There are two reasons Mitch is on a faith journey as part of the plot. First, faith has been part of the human condition for all of recorded history. Without it, regardless of your religious leanings, examination of the human condition is complete. Secondly, it is the writer's job to make things as bad as possible for the main character. This is called the negation of the negation, or going from bad to worse. You create a bad situation, then go one worse. North Korea is officially an atheist nation. Christians are persecuted and somtimes put to death, often by torture. So what is worse? An American atheist in North Korea, where he sees eye to eye with them in that area? Or an American atheist who can't even find a Bible to read or a fellow Christian to embrace? It is about the human condition. Faith is part of that.