Today I’d like to welcome author John Marco, who recently published the latest book in his Bronze Knight series, The Forever Knight. John also has the best online ID ever, “happynerdjohn” and he’s probably pretty happy right now, since Kirkus Reviews chose The Forever Knight as a TOP PICK for April. I’d have to agree (read my review here).
Marlene: John, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
John: Marlene, I’d like to start by thanking you for doing this interview with me and for agreeing to take part in my blog tour. I say this all the time, but I’ve met so many helpful book bloggers over the years who’ve been willing to take a chance and review my books even though they’ve never heard of me. The book blogging community has been wonderful, and I appreciate it.
It always feels a bit strange to talk about myself, but I’ll start by saying that I’m a writer, a husband, and a proud father of a great nine year-old boy. I pretty much always wanted to be a writer, and a fantasy writer in particular, because that’s what I grew up reading and loving. I spent more than enough time as a technical writer in various jobs, and now I am writing fiction full time again. Overall I think of myself as a very average guy who just happens to write stories.
Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
John: I’ve had friends along the way who have been very encouraging. Once you actually make the decision to become a writer and get published (or try to get published), it’s good to have people who believe in what you’re doing and support you. There’s always negative people around as well, but you have to ignore them. Those are usually the people who’ve never really accomplished anything in life anyway, so why listen to them? Once you decide to be a writer, you’ll have enough of your own doubts anyway.
Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?
John: This is a difficult question to answer. I think most writers would say they have a number of “favorite” things about writing, and find it tough to select just one. I love creating worlds and characters, and I’ve always had a need to tell stories. I’m not sure why that is. It just feels like something I was born to do.
Besides that, I love the intimacy of writing. I’m a real introvert, which means that I like to be alone with my own thoughts and I’m comfortable in my own head. Writing gives me the chance to embrace that part of me, to be by myself and be in control. I like being my own boss, in a sense.
Marlene: In The Forever Knight, you changed from third-person narrative to first-person. In general, do you try to experiment with writing style intentionally, or do you find that it just evolves over time?
John: Both. Yes, definitely both. I have always wanted to do different things, to grow and stretch and test myself as a writer. For one thing, I’m very easily bored. I find it surprising that so many writers are able to write in the same world with the same characters over and over and not try something different in between books. That’s never been for me. So trying to write a first person story was always in the cards for me.
On the other hand, there are changes in writing style that come without warning and aren’t by design. I have definitely felt myself “evolving” over the years. For one thing, I’m not as descriptive as I used to be. I used to write really long passages describing things like architecture and culture and dress, and now I do less of that. I just figure that a little goes a long way when it comes to that stuff, but when in my earlier books I really piled it on.
Marlene: Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
John: They do, yes. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s frustrating. I make a fairly detailed outlined each time I start a book, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s supposed to happen. But very often characters come to the forefront of the story in a way that’s unexpected. Sometimes they’re just stronger characters, and instead of taking a minor role they wind up with a much larger one. And sometimes there are characters in the books that aren’t even in the outline at all. That’s happened to me twice so far with fairly major characters.
Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?
John: Yes, there will definitely be more books in the Bronze Knight series. I am contracted for two more at the moment, and have some ideas for the next one. Before I get to that, however, I will finish up the book I am writing right now. It’s called The Bloody Chorus, and it’s an epic fantasy novel, the first in a new series. I’m also slated to contribute a short story to an upcoming anthology of military fantasy stories. I’m particularly excited about that, because I love writing short stories and don’t get the chance to write them as often as I’d like.
Marlene: What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
John: Oh, so much. Publishing has changed a lot since I first started, and I’ve changed too. The first thing I learned was that publishing a book is only the beginning. I had thought that once I got my foot in the door it would be easy, but that’s really not the case at all. Some books do well, others not so well, and you have got to be ready and willing to weather the storms, because they always come eventually. And then there’s the technical aspects of writing that I’ve gotten better at over time. Again, when I first started I used to say that I was always willing to learn, but it was mostly lip service. I suppose I meant it, but I hadn’t really internalized that idea. It was just something that I would say, kind of like a cliché. Now, however, I’m eager to learn and grow as a writer. I see things that other writers do, and they don’t scare me anymore. I want to be as good as I can be, but I realize that the whole thing involves constant striving.
Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?
John: That’s a real book lovers question! A tough one to answer to be sure. I’ll say Demon by John Varley. It’s one of the first serious science fiction novels that I ever read, and it filled me with an almost indescribable sense of wonder. Not a lot of books do that for me any more. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older now, and wonder is such a rare thing when you’re older. I’d love to experience that feeling again.
Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.
John: I wish I knew how to draw or paint. I wish I was an artist. If there was any other “art” form that I could participate in besides writing, that would be it. It was fantasy art that first drew me into the genre in the first place.
Marlene: Coffee or Tea?
John: I’ll have to say tea, because I don’t drink coffee at all and never have. It’s just one of those things that I never grew into. And to be honest I’m not nuts for tea either, unless it’s iced tea. I don’t even drink alchohol. Really, I drink like a big kid—soda, fruit drinks, Snapple, that sort of stuff.
About John MarcoJohn Marco is the author of several novels of epic fantasy, many of which have been translated into various languages throughout the world. His first book, The Jackal of Nar, was published in 1999 and won the Barnes and Noble Maiden Voyage Award for best first fantasy novel. John writes full time from his home in Kings Park, NY, a north shore Long Island suburb, where he lives with his wife Deborah and his young son Jack. Though most of his days are consumed with writing, John enjoys spending free time biking, visiting the beach, flying, and of course, reading good books.
John is kindly giving away a signed hardcover edition of The Forever Knight to one lucky winner! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below (shipment to U.S. or Canadian addresses only).