Hello John and welcome to Rukia Publishing. Thank you for taking part in our author interview feature.
Firstly, would you mind telling us a little about yourself John.
Born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. I currently live in Essex with my wife, Margaret, and my daughter Elizabeth. For many years I was a Chartered Surveyor in local government. I was a Senior project manager with the Greater London Council until it was closed down in 1986. I then set up my own surveying practice carrying out building surveys, and preparing architectural drawings. In 2004 I had a heart attack, and lost a number of clients. I eventually retired in 2008. For the past two years I have been battling (successfully) cancer. I have an appointment to see my oncologist in Novemeber, and am hoping to get the all clear.
I had always wanted to write a novel but could never think of a good enough plot. My first novel, The Kammersee Affair, published in 2006, was inspired by a holiday in Austria. We were staying in Grundlsee. The next lake, Toplitzsee, was used by the Germans during the war to test rockets, and torpedoes. There were rumours of gold hidden in that lake. Despite extensive searches the gold was never found. In my book, however, it is found, only in the next lake, Kammersee.
Let's start with a few questions about you and your writing.
How long have you been a writer and what inspires you to write?
I suppose in a way I’ve always been a writer. I mean at school you had to writes essays about some subject or other. As a teenager I did write a story about Australia oddly enough. It spanned a period of a hundred years and told the story of the development of a small settlement into a town. It covered ten A5 sheets of hand writing. For some reason it was never published, and I’m still waiting for someone to snap up the film rights. I actually came into writing very late in life. I had always wanted to write a novel, but could never think of a decent, original, plot.
Who, or what, has had the greatest influence on your writing and why?
To be honest I don’t think anyone or anything had any influence on my writing. I was brought up on the writings of Enid Blyton. Then I progressed to Alistair MacLean, and Hammond Innes. Although I still think their books to be the best, I don’t copy their style. I think that I have a unique and original style.
How much real life goes into fiction writing?
Fiction is fiction, so by definition it is not real. Having said that my book “A Killing In The City” came about following the economic collapse experienced in the west a few years ago; “Epidemic” came about following the swine flu epidemic that spread throughout the world; and my latest “Kendall” concerns itself with newspapers, and phone hacking.
Do you believe that writers are born or trained, and why do you think this?
Another good question. I think the answer must be No and No. Certainly, despite all of the advice about how to write that is posted you cannot train anyone to be a writer. As for a writer being born I don’t go along with that. To me writing is an art which comes from experience, and feelings. It has to grow and develop. Why anyone does it is beyond me. It’s a bit like the mountaineer who when asked why he wanted to climb a mountain, replied “because it is there”. I suppose why do I want to write, because I want to. Simple really.
Do you have a writing schedule? How often do you write?
Short answer No. I don’t settle down every day with a word target to meet. I write whenever I think of something to write. Unlike authors like Charles Dickens I don’t start at page one and continue writing until the end. I start with a basic outline – my villain, the crime, Kendall solving the crime, and then summarizing why and how. Then I might add some support characters – the victim for example. Then the real work starts. I might suddenly think of something – a sentence maybe, or a scene; perhaps a bit of dialogue. I add it to the work where I think it is appropriate.
What does your perfect writing environment look like?
A white sandy beach in the Caribbean; or perhaps beside a lake in Austria. Well you did ask. Sadly my cluttered desk in my small study (bedroom 4) is nothing like either, but it’s all I have, until I make my first million. (Still some way off) Great answer John!
What are you currently reading and why did you choose it?
Generally I only read works by other Indie authors. It’s hard out there in the book market, and I think us Indies need to support each other. I have about a hundred books on my kindle waiting to be read. Currently I am reading “The Deadly Caress” by Olga Stefan. A murder thriller. Early days but it’s looking good.
If you could share one thing about yourself that you would like readers to know what would it be?
I have a love of animals. Ever since I got married (a long, long, long time ago) we had dogs. We now have a cat called Missy, who adopted us. For many years I was Chairman of the local branch of the RSPCA.
I do love that about cats, how they adopt new owners.
About your books:
What genre do you write?
I have seven books available. One, “The Kammersee Affair” is about the search for hidden nazi gold. “The Thackery Journal” is an historical fiction novel concerning the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The other five books feature my private detective Tom Kendall.
Who is your target audience?
I’m afraid I wouldn’t know how to target an audience. But there is no swearing in my books, and no gratuitous sex or violence, so anyone could read my works.
How do you engage your readers?
I have to admit that I don’t know how to engage my readers, and any advice would be most welcome.
Excellent answer, I was hoping for some tips from you John!
Do you have any blogs/websites?
I have told time and time again that I ought to have a web site, and a blog, but I wouldn’t know where to start. Mores advice required, plus a simple guide on what to do.
What marketing tools do you utilize and how do you rate their effectiveness?
I hate marketing let me say, and I am fast running out of ideas. I have business cards which I give out at every and any opportunity. Apart from that it is Facebook or Twitter. Their effectiveness is I’m afraid unknown.
Can you tell us about your latest release Kendall, and why you decided to make book 5 in the series a standalone book?
Although “Kendall” is the fifth book to feature Tom Kendall, it is actually a prequel telling how he resigned from the New York Police Department, and how he became a private detective. Although the Kendall series run on all five books are standalone novels, and can be read in any order you wish.
How did you conduct your research for - Kendall?
I have now written five novels featuring Tom Kendall, so I know all about him, and his associates, so I do not need to do any research about him. “Kendall” was influenced by the recent phone hacking scandal, so some research into the subject was carried out using the internet.
What are 3 of your favourite lines/quotes from your new release Kendall?
Molly, who currently works for Walmart, is about to be given a job as Kendall’s secretary. Kendall is surprised that she isn’t going to give a month’s notice. Mollie shook her head. “I’ll ring them in the morning, and tell them the bad news. What they going to do, sue me? They’ll survive.”
I do love that line John!
Kendall is being railroaded into taking on a missing husband case. Mollie tells him that the wife is clearly worried. Kendall shook his head. “She’s just wondering when she can cash in on his life insurance. In fact it’s probably her who is doing the running around. She’s probably got a younger model somewhere. Fletcher’s just lying low so he can keep an eye on her.”
Kendall meets up with a couple of petty criminals from his days at the NYPD. They tell him that they are going straight, and had a little delivery service. Kendall nodded once again. “A delivery service eh, that sounds good,” said Kendall. “You mean like the U.S. Mail, or maybe Fedex?”
Do you have a review that you have received that you would like to share?
"I've read all John Holt's books about the marvellous Tom Kendall, so I looked forward to this one especially. Nor was I disappointed. Holt takes us back a few years to show us Tom Kendall frustrated with his job in the NYPD and determined to leave it and set up his own Private Investigator business. This is really interesting. Kendall is a man who, unlike Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade, relies on his brains rather than his muscle in dealing with criminals. He has no skill with a gun and wouldn't know how to go about knocking someone out, but his stubbornness and determination bring him through to the solution every time. Kendall really wants his first case to be something very important – but will it be? His first meeting with Mollie, his personal assistant and a major character in the other books, is a real delight, and was a bonus to my enjoyment of this book 'Kendall'. Thank you for this, John Holt. Keep them coming!"
That's a great review, congratulations.
How and why are reviews important to you?
I suppose like most authors reviews can be a double edged sword. It’s great to get a good review, something that tells you that someone enjoyed your work. Make you feel good, and the hours spent writing the book wasn’t entirely wasted. But then there are the nasty one star ones which state how bad the book was, how they couldn’t bear to finish it, and that your writing was that of a five year old. That takes you down a peg or two. But of course it is obvious that you cannot possibly please everyone. Not everyone will like your work. Some will love it, others will hate it. I’m not in the least interested in horror stories, or zombies, or fantasy. Others think differently. That’s why I write to please one person, and one person only, me. If I like it that’s fine, if someone else likes it that’s a bonus.
I think that's and excellent attitude to take.
John, you have an Amazon Countdown feature for another of your books, 'The Thackery Journal' running from 29th August to 3rd September, can you tell the readers about that book and the offer?
I started “The Thackery Journal” five years ago. I had a fairly good couple of opening chapters, a few nice pieces in the middle, and a good final chapter. I was then utterly stuck. I wrote five other novels. Then quite suddenly it all came together and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I finished the book three months later. In essence it is a what-if novel concerning the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It supposes that the assassination was planned by his own generals. It also supposes that the plot was financed by stolen confederate gold. It is also the story of two lifelong friends who find themselves on opposite sides during the Civil War, and how their lives become involved in the assassination plot.The ebook is currently available at $3-49 on amazon.com, and £2-12 on amazon.co.uk –
From 28th August until 3rd September the price will be 99 cents/ 99 pence!!
The Thackery Journal
On the night of April 14th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor, and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a wider conspiracy? A plot hatched by his own generals to replace Lincoln with General Ulysses S. Grant.
Readers, don't forget to check out the book trailer video at the end of this post.
Good luck with the promotions John!
Where can your books be purchased?
Thank you John for your time and participation.
Author John Holt and his book links:
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/JohnHoltAuthor
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Holt-Author/553064201380567
Amazon Author page:
Books by John Holt:
You will love this Book Trailer for “The Thackery Journal”