Friday, December 18, 2015

My Interview with John Hegenberger

With my graduate work dominating most of the past two years, my blogging has been nonexistent. Thankfully, all of that is behind me. I’m excited about some upcoming projects which I will be revealing shortly. But today I’m excited about a recent “conversation” with author John Hegenberger. John is the author of the newly released Spyfall. I can say that this book delivers on all fronts! The pop culture references fly fast and furious, and the story is rich with crackling dialogue. The protagonist is a P.I. named Stan Wade, and the setting is Los Angeles in the late 1950s. In fact, Stan offices out of the famous Brown Derby, and just that premise alone had me hooked! Throw in my love of all things Eisenhower Era and Kennedy Era, Cold War intrigue, and it’s as if John wrote the perfect book for me! I have a more detailed review coming soon, but for now I’m pleased to present John’s thoughts on writing, the state of publishing, and advice he has for others entering the field.

Ryan: First of all, I have to ask, where did your inspiration for Stan Wade come from? He’s such a great character and you manage to weave so many pop culture references and icons into his stories. Have you always been a fan of classic Hollywood? Is he modeled on anyone? In other words, if you had to pick an actor from Tinsel Town’s golden era to play him, or any era, is there anyone you picture in your mind?

John: Okay, let’s have some fun!  I came to the idea by thinking about all the great television shows I used to watch as a kid and wondered what might happen if the characters were to team up.  In other words, what if Mike Hammer visited 77 Sunset Strip in order to work with Sky King to help stop something from happening to Joe Friday.  When I think of Stan Wade, I picture Anthony Perkins.  Young, hip, but maybe troubled.

Ryan: It seems as if your work is appearing regularly now, but until earlier this year, I was unfamiliar with it. Is publishing something new for you? Have you written for years and just recently put it out there or is writing new to you entirely?

John: I wrote some science fiction starting in the ‘70s. I had a couple of nonfiction books published in the late ‘80s and lots of articles and a newspaper column. SPYFALL is published by Black Opel Books and, as with most authors, it was simply a case of travelling each day to the marketplace where dreams are bought and sold, hopefully taking my place among the sellers.

Quite a number of years back, it occurred to me that if you were a writer, you could work anywhere.  That's all I needed.

Ryan: I have to ask about rejection, as I think every writer has faced it. Did you face much of it? If so, how did you handle it and what advice do you have for other writers when facing it?

John: Rejection never goes away, especially if you set your aim high. You just have to expect that, like a salesman knocking on doors, you have to play the numbers game and keep going until you get a sale. Rejection is not your fault. Usually the buyer has all sorts of problems of their own that you know nothing about. That means it's their problem, so just keep on keeping on.

Ryan: Digital publishing has certainly changed the game. Do you think this is a good thing? What are your thoughts on the era of Kindles and Nooks and more freedom as an author?

John: I think digital publishing will continue to expand. Eventually the large houses will incorporate it to a point where there's a clear dividing line between self-publishing and traditional publishing. We may be there already, but it is still possible for a small press publisher to have a big hit. And that's the beauty of electronic digital publishing.

Ryan: Do you have a goal of “words per day” that you try to meet? Do you keep a regular writing schedule?

John: No real goal, except perhaps to have four pages per day, on the days that I'm writing. And I'm writing about four days per week. Usually in the afternoons. Reading time is considered a part of the process and that happens every day

Ryan: Do you work from an outline or just wing it as you go? Do you usually have the whole story mapped out, or do you just sort of see where the characters take you, working from a general idea?

John: I have to outline, mostly because I want to know who done it and I want to know where I can stick in some clever or exciting twist or setting and have it makes sense. However, during the writing process, I probably re-re-outline three times at least.

Nothing pleases me more than to have an entire story figured out and then at the last moment recognize that there's another whole aspect of the story which I haven't spent any time on at all.  It's an opportunity to jump in with a nifty new twist.

Ryan: Who are some of the other authors you enjoy?

John: I like to read stories that surprise me and gave me a chuckle. Favorite authors right now include: Craig Johnson, Dick Lochte, Mark Coggins, and Paul Kemprecos.  And, I keep coming back to most of that works by Stuart Kaminsky.

Ryan: Do you have any advice for “wannabe” authors like myself who dream of one day being published?

John: Have fun! If it's not fun, it's not worth doing. If you're writing and it's not fun, maybe you shouldn't be writing.  Maybe you should be outlining.  But whatever the case, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Also, never throw anything away. Everything has a place; you just have to figure out where it goes in the overall process. Beyond that, just sit down and see what you’ve typed and how you can make it better.

Ryan: What should we look for coming up from you? Will Stan be back often? What genres are you currently working in?

John: Yes, Stan will be back! His next book, STARFALL, will be out in February. I expect to have maybe two additional novels in the series out later in 2016. I have another series about a private eye in 1988 and the next book is called CROSSFIRE, scheduled for publication in January. Finally, there are a few science fiction books that will be published in 2016. One is part of a trilogy called, interestingly enough, TRIPLEYE and it involves the first private I agency… on Mars.

If you want to know more about John, click here. If you want to purchase one of his fine novels (and I highly suggest you do), click here. A big thank you to John Hegenberger for taking the time to answer these questions!

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