John generously interrupted his writing time to answer a few questions. Here is my short interview:
Alice: Where did the main inspiration for the character Sean Coleman come from? During the writing process, did you ever consider making him less abrasive?
John: Throughout my life, I’ve known a number of people who I would consider to be their own worst enemies. They weren’t bad people, but they tended to define themselves by the bad decisions they repeatedly made. I thought it would be interesting to create a flawed protagonist who was not only challenged by the predicament the plot of the story puts him in, but also by the consequences of his own life choices.
In many of the books that I’ve read, the protagonist is an immediately likeable, successful, attractive person. There’s nothing wrong with that type of character, but it’s not the direction I wanted to go in.
There’s certainly a risk that comes with using an abrasive protagonist like Sean, because the reader might sour on him enough that they won’t care what becomes of him. That’s why it was important to also make Sean a sympathetic character who people could identify with. I think that rounded him out.
Alice: Will Sean Coleman come back in future books?
John: Absolutely. I’m actually working on the second Sean Coleman novel right now. Other characters from the first novel will be returning as well.
“From a Dead Sleep” is a very character-driven story. My goal was to draw the reader into getting to know the characters intimately and have an investment in what happens to them. Judging by the feedback I’ve received, there’s a lot of interest in what the future holds for Sean and the rest. I think readers are going to be surprised by how some of the characters have evolved over the six months between where the first book left off and the next one begins.
Alice: When did you realize that you wanted to write?
John: I didn’t start to form an interest in writing until after I had graduated from college back in the late 1990s.
I was working as a software developer at the time. Being a tech-savvy guy, I created my own website where I’d write and post an occasional movie review. Over time, I accumulated quite a few reviews. They caught the eye of a gentleman who was investing some money into an entertainment website, and he asked if I would write reviews for him. I did that for a while, and also dabbled in poetry and some other entertainment-related writings.
After 9/11, I became interested in writing about current events and cultural issues. I eventually took on fiction writing and found that I very much enjoyed it.
Alice: Did you ever consider another ending for “From a dead sleep?”
John: As I was writing “From a Dead Sleep,” I didn’t really have a concrete ending in mind. I knew which direction I wanted to take the story in, but the plot really evolved on its own.
I did consider creating a physical confrontation between Sean and one of the story’s more heinous villains toward the end, but ultimately decided to go a more unconventional route.
Alice: Do you have a writing routine?
John: I try to write for about two or three hours each morning, after I drop my children off at school. The house is typically empty during that time, so I’m able to focus on what I’m doing. I do my best work in my home office beside a large window. I’ve found that I can’t have a television or radio on in the background. They’re too distracting.
Alice: Can you give us some insight in plot development? Several story layers have to come together. How do you organize those threads?
John: I’ve always been drawn to stories in which multiple characters are developed within their own worlds before their paths cross and converge into a broader storyline. That’s the route I went with when writing “From a Dead Sleep.” Coordinating the various layers of storytelling can actually be quite difficult. Timelines and storyline dependencies are quite important.
While I never used a comprehensive outline to organize my thoughts on “From a Dead Sleep,” I did outline the evolution of individual characters and also the chronological order of events. This helped me with the placement of chapters until the story began to bring everyone together.
Alice: Your description of Ron Oldhorse shows great respect for nature and the wisdom of Native Americans. Is this a theme you will use in future writings?
John: I’ve always respected rugged individualism and minimalist living, and I think there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained through self-reliance. This will certainly remain a theme in my future writings. Turning to the Native American culture to find such a character seemed like a natural direction to go in.
In many ways, “From a Dead Sleep” is a story about survival. I thought it would be an interesting twist to inject a true survivalist like Ron Oldhorse into the book at the right time, as sort of a “wild card” that the readers don’t see coming. His back story, including his pursuit of his ancestral roots, adds some complexity to his character that readers have been quite receptive to.
Ron Oldhorse’s character will continue to develop in the next Sean Coleman novel, in ways that many people won’t see coming.
Thank you, John!
A lifelong Coloradoan, John graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1996 with a degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. He spent the next fifteen years developing accounting software and Internet-based, workflow collaboration solutions.
With a thirst for creative expression that went beyond the logic and absolutes of computer programming, John developed an interest in writing. His early work included newspaper editorials, and film and television reviews for entertainment websites. He later became drawn toward more substantive commentary on world events. He currently writes political, cultural, and media-analysis columns for the website of Bernard Goldberg, former CBS News journalist and New York Times bestselling author.
John felt compelled to take his writing to the next level after watching a television interview with former NFL football player, Tim Green. Inspired by Green’s career transition from a professional athlete to an accomplished author, John found the motivation to begin work on his first novel, “From a Dead Sleep”.
John is currently working on the next Sean Coleman novel.