APKY/AMP: Hello John, and thanks for giving AuthorMeProfessionals this interview. To start off, please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
My professional background is business and marketing. I have a strong interest in history that dates back to grade school and I have always liked to write. About six years ago I decided to put both of my interests together and wrote an article that was published in a World War II magazine. That is how I started writing.
My first book, Lost at Guadalcanal, tells the story of two American warships sunk in the South Pacific during World War II. It is largely told through the firsthand accounts of sailors who were aboard the warships. I have no connection to either ship or anyone aboard, but I have a great admiration for the men who fought in World War II. It was listening to veterans talk about their wartime experiences that inspired me to write what I felt was an untold part of history.
APKY/AMP: That’s great. I have a soft spot for history too. So, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
I have only written about history so far. While I am not opposed to considering another genre, there are many more topics in the field of history that I would like to write about. However, you never know what the future holds.
APKY/AMP: Writing about history, John, what have you had published to-date?
I have written two books about World War II: Sunk in Kula Gulf (Potomac Books, 2012) and Lost at Guadalcanal (McFarland, 2010). My articles have appeared in World War II History, Naval History, and World War II Quarterly Magazines.
APKY/AMP: Impressive, in just over two years. Now, why should we buy your book(s)?
Sunk in Kula Gulf is not your typical history book. It tells the story of USS Helena’s final voyage and the incredible struggle of her survivors. More than anything it is a book about people – everyday Americans fighting a war thousands of miles from home. There is a story for every sailor who was aboard Helena on her final voyage - a story of what they did, what they saw, and how they survived. These accounts describe the raw emotion of war – a perspective that you just don’t find in official reports or history books. In writing Sunk in Kula Gulf I relied on individual accounts to bring to life this extraordinary little-told World War II story of heroism and survival at sea.
APKY/AMP: That does sound incredible. Do you manage to write every day?
I do not write every day. I tend to write in clusters when involved in a book project. I first make a rough outline of my topic – what do I want to say and how. It is initially done on a high level. Then I complete the research, often getting more information than I will need. When it comes to the actual writing, I will work intensively for short stretches of time – usually two or three days in a row. Then I put it aside and resume a few days later.
APKY/AMP: I see. Here comes one of my favourite questions: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Although it is hard to define, I do believe that writer’s block is real. There are some days that I can write all day – and all night if I could stay awake. The thoughts and words just seem to perfectly fall into place. However, there are other times when I cannot seem to put together two sentences that make sense. The only cure to writer’s block that I have found is to shut down and resume work with a clear mind on another day.
APKY/AMP: Okay. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
I am defiantly a planner. I write a basic outline when I get first an idea for a book – nothing special, it could even be some notes on a piece of scratch paper. I refine the outline and concept until I am comfortable it makes sense before doing any actual writing.
APKY/AMP: Do you then write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Absolutely a computer - I would not have it any other way. It allows me to quickly and easily arrange thoughts, write out ideas, and make changes.
AMP: That’s true; you can even switch whole chapters around J So where can we find out about you and your work?
My website (www.pacificwarauthor.com) provides a complete bio and press page along with information on my books. It contains pictures and an excerpt from Sunk in Kula Gulf and links to all major book sellers – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
APKY/AMP: Thank you, John. I now invite you to include an extract of your writing:
Here is a short excerpt from Sunk in Kula Gulf describing the final minutes of the USS Helena:
“The noises of collapsing girders could soon be heard as the ship’s midsection began to sag even further. It was the sounds of the ship in her death throes. Before long, the center of the light cruiser was sinking into the sea. The front and back sections of the ship began to rise out of the water. The middle part of the ship where the keel had been broken acted as a hinge for the rest of the hull. The Helena was slowly sinking in a jackknife fashion. The after part of the ship eventually stood straight up in a near vertical position. The front portion tilted at an angle of at least forty-five degrees. Both sections then slowly went down. Twenty-two minutes after the first torpedo hit, the last of the Helena’s hull disappeared beneath the waves. It was 2:25 a.m.”
APKY/AMP: Wow, you have serious knowledge of ships, John. Thanks once again, and all the best with your projects.