Posted on 07/03/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
When a witness is on the stand, it’s said, a lawyer should never ask a question to which he or she doesn’t already know the answer.
The same can maybe be said of engineers who try writing a novel on a challenge, as it turns out.
Author John B. Wren was always a reader, especially as a frequent traveler, and enjoyed both fiction and nonfiction.
One night when he wasn’t on the road, he and his wife were watching a movie about a serial killer ... and it wasn’t great.
“Think you could write better?” his wife asked sarcastically after having had enough of Wren’s criticism.
“Of course, I’m an engineer, and I can do anything,” he replied.
“So write a book,” she fired back.
Wren took the bait, and after spending the weekend writing, he presented the end result to his wife.
When he asked what she thought, he expected her to tear the work apart and let him return to engineering.
Instead, she answered: “This ain’t bad.”
Fateful words indeed!
SADYE: So then what happened?
JOHN: Now I had to finish. I thought I could knock out a book in a few days or a week, but book number one took about eighteen months to complete.
It was a tremendous learning experience, and before I had finished book one, number two had begun to formulate in my head.
I had caught the bug — I was now hooked. There are parallels with engineering; research, planning, reviews and revisions.
Constantly trying to improve the product and putting it in front of critics hopefully leads to a product that will appeal to an audience.
I have now finished my seventh book; it is with my editor, and I await the sharp edge of her red pen.
I may be far from the final cut and release, but I have already begun framing out book number eight.
SADYE: You have written thrillers, mysteries, and historical fiction. What’s next?
JOHN: A little science fiction. I may have stepped out of my area with this one, but the proof will be in the product.
The fun here is predicting events and using machines, tools or weapons that may be impossible but make the story work.
I’ve already fabricated an entire galaxy that is going to partially pass through the Milky Way and inspire a war between two planets.
SADYE: Do you have a favorite genre and why?
JOHN: I’ve written about murder in today’s world and delved into turn of the millennium Irish warriors and brutal battles.
I try to place myself in the characters I invent and envision myself questioning a murder suspect or wielding a sword in a medieval battle.
The fun is in living the character’s lives, controlling their movements and feeling the rewards of a suspect confessing or a battle won. I enjoy both genres equally and will continue in both as long as I can.
There are challenges in both genres. I feel that writing a current day story demands that I try to weave the tale around actual significant events.
I don’t want to take too much liberty with current events and try to keep my story interesting and have it fit in with the readers world.
If my characters go to a baseball game, the teams, players. and box score are important to me. So, someone who actually went to a game I mention may remember the play of the game and search their memory for my characters.
Historical fiction is not much different. I can easily place characters in medieval Ireland doing things that were common in the day, but I will not alter significant events to fit a story.
My fictional characters may have conversation and interact with historical figures, but never to distort historical fact.
If I had to choose, I’d lean toward the modern day murder mystery/thriller.
SADYE: What inspired your interest in medieval Ireland?
JOHN: I read a short piece about a character who may have lived in tenth- and eleventh-century Ireland.
He may have been real or may be a myth, but I find him appearing twice around the Battle of Clontarf and loosely based one of my fictional characters on him.
The thousand-year anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf was on April 23, 2014, and I wanted my book, an Trodai: Conall to be released a week in advance of the anniversary.
As it turns out, I ended up writing two prequels to Conall, both novellas, and finally released it this year.
I am now looking into continuing the three an Trodai books with follow up books around the Norman invasion of Ireland.
SADYE: Your novel Darryl’s Reunion has been adapted as a screenplay. Any updates on that?
JOHN: I met a publicist several years ago who recommended Darryl’s Reunion be adapted as a screenplay. Sounded great to me and she recommended someone to handle the adaptation.
I was enthused at first, and we submitted the completed screenplay to a table-read competition. We did very well but are still waiting for a producer to knock on my door or dial my number.
I have heard many times that this is the hardest part of the game — waiting.
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Categories: Author Interview