Well, guys, in the last several weeks I’ve reviewed two books by author John A. Heldt, Indiana Belle and The Mine. And I’ll be interviewing him in pink, because everything’s better with pink, and his answers will be in green, which is his favorite color.
Welcome to Reveries, Mr. Heldt. Could you tell me a little about how you decided to become a writer. Did you start writing when you were little, or did you start when you were older? What was the first full-length novel you wrote?
I started writing when I picked up a pencil in first grade and haven’t stopped. I have always liked to write and always found it easy to express myself through words, whether in school essays or newspaper articles or novels. I published my first novel, The Mine, in 2012.
Oh, I didn’t know that The Mine was your first novel. 😀
I was excited to be allowed to read The Mine. Where did you get the idea for the plot? How about the characters? Are they inspired by people you know, other book characters, etc.? Is the main character similar to you?
Books, movies, and my family history inspired The Mine. I wrote the novel shortly after reading and watching The Time Traveler’s Wife in 2011. Back to the Future was also an influence, as were A Walk in the Clouds, From Here to Eternity, The Time Machine, Racing with the Moon, The Notebook, and Ray Bradbury’s short story, A Sound of Thunder. I was also inspired by stories about the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of my uncles, a construction worker in Honolulu who later served in the Army Air Corps, witnessed the whole thing from his car. I wanted to write about 1941 almost from the start, but I wanted to approach that historic year from a different angle. I wanted to cover the months leading up to Pearl Harbor and cover them from the perspective of a civilian time traveler who knew war was coming and wasn’t all that thrilled about jumping into it. My protagonist wrestles with difficult decisions, the kind that can only confront someone with knowledge of things to come. As for the characters, they are completely fictional. Joel Smith and I are very different people, though we share a love of history, sports, and twentieth-century pop culture.
Was The Mine a hard novel to write?
Yes. I struggled with it from start to finish. Thanks to the help of many people, including my daughter Amy, I was able to work out many of its bugs and complete it in eight months.
Were you satisfied with the way The Mine turned out?
Yes. There are a few things I would change if I had to write it again from scratch, but I am generally happy with how the novel turned out.
What’s your next/current writing project?
I am currently writing the fourth novel in the American Journey series. In this book, two vacationing Alabama sisters, ages 22 and 18, travel from 2017 to 1959 Los Angeles, meet similarly aged brothers, and immerse themselves in the age of Sputnik, sock hops, drive-ins, and cars with fins. I hope to complete the first draft by August 1 and publish the novel – my ninth overall – by the end of October.
It sounds interesting! I hope I get a chance to read it. 🙂
What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Where do you prefer to write? Do/can you work on more than one novel at a time?
I am, without a doubt, a plotter, as I noted in a long blog post last year. I map out novels extensively before I write even one word and never start a new book until I have finished the last. I prefer to write in quiet places. I find it almost impossible to write when subjected to even a few minor distractions.
What do you like best to hear from reviewers?
I like to hear praise, of course. Who doesn’t? But I also like to hear constructive criticism. Reviewers do writers favors when they point out what they like and what they don’t. They help authors grow and get better.
Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up?
I maintain a blog at: http://johnheldt.blogspot.com
Ok, great! I’ll have to check it out. 🙂
See (well … you know, metaphorically) you soon,
About John A. Heldt
John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.