Monday, September 20, 2010
JF: Thank you Ruby, it is my pleasure and I appreciate you asking me. If it seems to you like I am everywhere, just think what it feels like to me. I am extremely busy and love every minute of it. There was a time when I used to gripe about being busy, then one day it dawned on me what it was like before—I’ll take busy…. :-)
RJ: What do you find most rewarding about your writing career? What has disappointed you most?
JF: This may sound a little corny, but it is, honestly, the people, readers and writers that I get to meet, talk to, and exchange ideas with. I get disappointed with writers who want instant success. They don’t realize the work that goes into writing.
RJ: What inspired you to write your first novel? What ignites the passion and galvanizes you to write a new book?
JF: I read a book when I was twelve years old about Crazy Horse. I have no idea what drew me to Crazy Horse, but I decided right them that I was going to write a book about him one day. It took me forty years and ten years of research, but Journey of the Spirit, the first book I actually wrote is a historical novel of fiction about Crazy Horse.
I have some highly successful mysteries and romantic suspense novels, but many people think Journey of the Spirit is the best I wrote.
I love to write—love to plot new scenarios and especially love to create new characters. This is a little known fact, I have two series going, but I have created at least one new character per book.
RJ: Do you write every day?
JF: I write every day. Not always on my WIP—I am constantly trying to improve different aspects of writing. I strive to write the perfect setting in a couple of sentences.
RJ: Can you tell us how your early career as a homicide detective influenced your ability to write police procedurals?
I see so many writers who try to write something they don’t have a clue about.
My background really does two things for me. First, I don’t have to do the extensive research on the material. I know it, so all I have to do is write the book.
Second, and just as important as the first, I have a platform to write murder mysteries that is not common in fiction.
RJ: You’ve said that your books are all about characterization. What do you do to develop your characters to the point that the readers want to cheer them on?
JF: First, I think writers need to know how to develop characters. You may be sitting there saying, Duh!” But the truth is, many writers have no idea how to fully develop characters with all three dimensions.
I’m teaching a class online, right now, on scene and sequel and how to build emotions into characters—developing the mental and spiritual dimension of characters through goal and conflict. But to be honest, most of the students are struggling because they have never done it.
Second, I create my characters from the ground up. I am like Dr. Frankenstein in that regard. There is not a single thing that I do not know about them. I know exactly how they will think and react in any situation.
For my last novel, Tattered Justice, I had fifty-four pages of questions on Kayla, my protagonist.
RJ: In your opinion what makes a good thriller, or crime novel?
JF: Conflict, conflict, and conflict. It really is that simple—without it, no genre can be successful. That goes doubly true in mysteries and suspense. Add in great characters who have to overcome overwhelming obstacles and in a small amount of time, you have the makings of a real good thriller.
RJ: Your latest novel, Tattered Justice, is a romantic suspense told from the female POV. This is a bit of a departure for you. What particular challenges did writing in a different gender POV present?
JF: LOL, it was a huge departure from what I usually do. Before I started it, my editor told me it would be the biggest challenge of my career. It was that, but not for the reason you or she might think. When people ask me how I did it, I tell them I just thought what I would think, how I would act, and I wrote the opposite. I get a good laugh out of that one.
To be honest, that is nothing but promotions—I had no problems writing Kayla. All my critique partners are women and they were jealous. They thought I wrote a woman better than they did.
When they had questions about my characters in Tattered Justice, it was always about the men.
I know there is this huge belief that men and women are totally different, but it simply isn’t true when it comes to creating them. I made Kayla—she has the weaknesses that I understand and the strengths I wanted her to have, and still remains a woman and a lady.
I am one that doesn’t buy into “A man would never do that, or a woman would never do that. In my lifetime, I can assure you, whatever you say a woman wouldn’t do—I have just about seen them do it, and the same for men.
What made Tattered Justice so hard for me, is that the protagonist in the story is a criminal defense attorney. I knew absolutely nothing about defense attorneys, and until I started researching the book, I had never set through an entire court case. I had testified in hundreds, but detectives go in testify and leave. The only part of a trial they see is the part they are in.
JF: Tattered Justice is a stand-alone. The protagonist is forced to defend a woman who is accused of murdering a best-selling romance author. There is a major problem. The client is the protagonist’s ex-best friend and she would rather see her in jail.
RJ: Would you share a little about your current project with us?
JF: LOL, my editor thought that Tattered Justice would be the biggest challenge of my career—she was one book off. Poetic Justice, my WIP, is without a doubt the most challenging. In fact it may be the most challenging book I’ve ever written.
In the story, a young woman is kidnapped by two East Texas rednecks, held for a week, raped repeatedly, sodomized, and when they are finished with her, they shoot and dump her in the garbage. Only she doesn't die.
When victim’s attackers are arrested and brought into court for arraignment, she shows up and kills both of them on camera in front of witnesses. She’s guilty of murder, and they are going to put her to death. The protagonist, Kayla, thinks the shooter should not be put to death.
She believes the woman is mentally competent and therefore not guilty. She is going to attempt a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity—a defense that rarely works in Texas and never in East Texas.
In the mean time, as she and the district attorney fall in love, someone tries to kill her to stop her from representing the woman. LOL, I told you I loved plots.
RJ: I can see that! What tools do you feel are a must have for writers?
JF: Patience, the willingness to learn, maturity, thick skin, and refusal to give up
RJ: You have a blog and website for readers to visit. Do you recommend websites and blogs for unpublished authors?
JF: Web sites more than blogs. If writers are going to have blogs, I suggest they go in with others—that way they only have to do something on it once a week.
RJ: Would you like to tell the readers anything about yourself? What are your future plans?
JF:I plan to keep writing and hopefully, keep learning. I have had some success—this summer, I presented a class at the RWA national convention. I became the first writer to present a class at Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writer of America national conventions.
When is enough, I don’t know—haven’t gotten there yet. I do know this, I get to do what I love.
RJ: John, thank you so much for spending time with us and sharing your knowledge. I wish you much success and hope you'll come back and visit again. Tell us where we can purchase your books.
JF: My pleasure and thank you! My books may be purchased at Amazon.com, fictionwise.com, or at my homestore on my website http://www.johnfoxjohnhome.com/
And if any of you have a comment or question, I hope you will ask now.
A multi-published and best-selling author , John Foxjohn was born and raised in the rural East Texas town of Nacogdoches. He is a Viet Nam veteran, Army Airborne Ranger, former policeman, homicide detective, retired teacher and coach. John is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Elements of Romance, Kiss of Death, Lethal Ladies, Sisters-in-Crime, East Texas Writers Guild, League of Texas Writers, and more online writing groups than he can count. He is a full time writer and speaker and lives in Lufkin, Texas, but travels extensively across the U.S.