Wednesday, November 18, 2015

INTERVIEW: John Day Author of The Glass Beacon

John Day
John Day stopped in to tell us about his latest creation The Glass Beacon which hit Amazon and Smashword on November 15th. We had a nice conversation and I am eager to share it with everyone.

Links to The Glass Beacon

(LL) Hello John, welcome back to Laura Lu’s.

(JD) It is a delight for me to be speaking with you again Laura. Your wide range of followers heeded your reviews on my earlier books and it is to your credit that so many read my work. As you know, last April, when you launched Fugitive for me, it went to number 9 in the amazon top 100. It is still doing well, but with my time taken up with writing, I have neglected marketing, so my name is not spreading far enough. Still, with what I have in store for my readers, they will have a good read over Christmas.

(LL) I have been digging into your latest book and I notice that it is very different from your adventures with Max and Carla, will we see them again in the future?

(JD) It is possible, but my preference is to write different types of thrillers. The Glass Beacon is a single plot, albeit a long one and involves several main characters running parallel through the story. My next book, being written now, is a simple crime thriller called I Lost My Wife and is about a police detective hell bent on proving the husband has somehow done away with his wife. However, that plays out entirely differently as the story develops and it will be another thriller with a big difference. Only yesterday I was hit by another idea and that will be an adventure thriller. There are no spies, no criminals, just … well wait and see!

(LL) Where did your idea for The Glass Beacon come from?

(JD) Only another writer will understand this twisted logic. First, I was on a very long cruise, there was fantastic food and lots to drink, I was probably a bit tipsy. I decided to write a story involving my home Island, Alderney, in the Channel Islands. It was one of the islands in Hitler’s Atlantic wall. Then came the title, The Glass Beacon. So how could I make anything from that? Well as it turns out, a tale that most of my beta readers just couldn’t put down and their copies were passed to friends, and so on, because they had never read such a gripping tale. These people are avid readers of anything they can get. Although it is set in WW2 and the 4 spies are German, doing their dastardly deed in England, the reader will soon forget that and it becomes a battle between them and MI5. Actually, there is so much more going on than that, so the surprises don’t stop. Also, thrown into the mix is romance. So, it all came together very easily and astonishingly well.
Fort Clonque where Pieter stayed with Helga and Oberst

(LL) Is that why you chose the World War II time frame for this story instead of World War I or making up a new future war?

(JD) The WW2 history of Alderney, its location to England and the happenings in that war all fitted perfectly, it was just made for the story.

(LL) What was Carole’s reaction to the writing bug hitting you while on your cruise?

(JD) It was not a problem; she loves reading and had her Kindle Fire, so she was sorted! We still went out on trips and did everything together, no holiday fun was wasted.

(LL) Given that you already live on the island staring in The Glass Beacon and you are clearly familiar with it history, was there any addition research that need to done for the story line?

(JD) Yes there was. I only had a general knowledge of the war history, so there was some research done. However, this story is fiction, not a guidebook of Alderney or intended to be historically accurate, any more than Eye of the Needle or any war movie. I made this quite clear at the start of the book. However, I was overjoyed to discover that so many facts fell into place and just fitted together like it could have actually happened. Even now, I wonder if it did.

As my wife often says, if it is meant to be, it will work out easily!

(LL) I have read a lot of books and I have noticed that most authors maintain the same tenor from one book to next with very little deviation, no matter the story line. After reading your Max and Carla adventures then reading The Glass Beacon I notice there is a very different tenor in the telling of The Glass Beacon than there was in your Max and Carla books. Did you deliberately do that or is this a part of your evolution as a writer? How else do you feel you have evolved as a writer?

(JD) It is both actually. Max & Carla were two oddball characters who lived for the adrenalin buzz. They thrived on ingenious but credible escapes and their adventures took place all over the world in exotic locations.

The Glass Beacon was a deadly serious affair. Both the Germans and British were very smart and equally ruthless in their drive to win the war. Living conditions were awful, and the hangman’s noose was just a mistake away. Romance, love or lust was fleeting and had to be grabbed, full on. They could be dead tomorrow. Overall, no room for idle chatter and the frivolity found with Max & Carla. The Glass Beacon did provide a fantastic opportunity for me to go deep into the characters of the key players, and in this story, there are many. Every person played a crucial part in the mission as it eased forward, step by step. There is no “John Wayne” super hero winning the war, single handed. My readers tell me that they were there in their imagination with the German spies and MI5. They could easily visualize their surroundings; feel their unhappiness, despair, paranoia and the romance felt all the better for it. Some readers went as far as to say they could even smell the surroundings. The characters speak differently, you can even tell who is speaking, just from their phrasing.

A different feel for a different story, surely that is what story telling is all about. Putting the reader in the scene.

I also tried hard to make the book equally enjoyable for women as well as men. Apparently, I succeeded according to my reviewers.

I do believe my writing style has evolved enormously and still is evolving. Wait till I Lost My Wife is published, different again.

Raven's pipe pointing to France and cliff Pieter was thrown from
(LL) The Glass Beacon has a number of characters and granted I have only met a few and have already found my least favorite, do you have a least favorite character?

(JD) I expect it will be Sir Philip Sterne that people hate most. I based the general character on Sydney Greenstreet, a brilliant character in the Humphrey Bogart films of the time. I added bullying and a brilliant intellect to the man. I honestly believe that MI5 would need a man of that type to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the men working under him. British agents were brilliant and under immense pressure, but they would have to be driven by such a man. The fact that he was capable of such a terrible deed, in the book, is entirely credible. You only need to read the daily news to know this.

(LL) I am seriously leaning towards Helga being my least favorite she just seems false and I have only just met her. Maybe it is the way she seems to be seducing by making the guy think he is doing the seduction. Guess I will reserve judgment for after I get to know her better.

(JD) I intended Helga to have controversial aspects to her character. Your reasons for disliking her are as valid as another who sees her as a victim of circumstance. Perhaps her admission that it all started out as a bit of harmless fun was true. After all, the Oberst was not a great lover. Then she believed she was in love at a vulnerable time and would probably never see Pieter Kline again. Did she have a dark secret? Was she Raven? Did she decide not to acknowledge Pieter when he returned from the mission, for the benefit of the Oberst. Perhaps she wanted to speak to Pieter alone and tell him she still loved him, but never got the chance. Perhaps she was a shallow bitch. It gives the reader the opportunity to choose their own interpretation and all are valid.

Do not forget Horst! None of the team liked him and he had no qualms about killing. However, there was another surprising side to him, so perhaps the reader will have a strong opinion about him.

(LL) How about a favorite character

I loved writing about the women, so it is a close call between Anna who is a delightfully scheming little vixen, Jane who is part of MI5’s honey trap and perhaps oddly, Cathy. I just couldn’t help but care for her and I am pleased Peter was there to do it for me. Of course, Peter Stone (aka Karl Strom and Pieter Klein Code name Glass) Is the main character, but I believe I managed to prevent him overpowering the impact of the others.

(LL) Do you have a favorite scene in the story and why is it your favorite?

(JD) That is such a hard question to answer! I had to discuss it with my wife before answering and I am sure readers will face the same dilemma, because there are so many memorable and stirring scenes. Carole says her most memorable one was when they crossed the channel. Then she added, and the getting ashore and … And so it went on. I agree with her, but perhaps the one that does it for me is when Horst has to make the decision to admit to Jane, (the MI5 honey trap) that he is or is not one of the 4 German spies. She genuinely loves Horst, but she has a job to do. Horst is blindly in love with Jane and when you read that small part of the story, I think you will see why I had a tear in my eye, when I wrote it.

(LL) Will there be a sequel to The Glass Beacon?

(JD) No, that will be evident from the book. Anyway, my readers deserve better than formulaic story telling. I want to be known as the author who can thrill, surprise and guarantee the next book will be even better. There are so many ideas that come to me, I pride myself on coming up with stories that will entertain the reader and leave them craving for the next thriller from John Day.

John's Carole
(LL) Here is my last question, I know Carole is your biggest fan but when she edits your books for you I am wondering if she harder on you then anyone else who edits your books?

(JD) Actually, she is the only person who does the editing. It is a great working relationship because she says what she thinks, based on her wide reading experience and we get to discuss the best way to achieve the answer. When I see her working away, and it might take 10 minutes to rework a sentence, I pray that our readers will enjoy the story so her hard work and dedication is not wasted. I write for the pleasure of it, for her it is a labor of love.

(LL) Thanks again for coming to visit with me. I really enjoy our conversations and hope that you will visit again as you are always welcome.

(JD) It has been a great pleasure Laura and I thank you for inviting me. I always enjoy your probing questions.

John and Carole on the cruise that started his latest book The Glass Beacon