Q: Please tell us of your latest book.
A: The Telltale Tattoo is the story of a young Vietnamese boy whose mother is killed by a soldier who is part of a platoon that attacks his village, mistakenly thinking it a Viet Cong base. The image of a gruesome tattoo on the arm of that soldier haunts Nguyen Chinh for decades until he has attained the resources to hunt for this man and confront him. The man has become wealthy as well and has no idea Chinh is after him, but he has serious problems of his own that he wants to escape by disappearing. The hunt and the escape plan are the conflicts in the novel.
Q: What can we expect of you in the future?
A: I’m working on a novel involving Russian agents trained to pose as Americans as they work to affect U.S. elections. The tentative title is Deep Cover.
Q: How do we find out about you and your books?
A: You can go to my Amazon author page – www.amazon.com/author/johnldeboer or to my website – www.novelsbyjohnldeboer.com
Q: Why did you decide to write thriller novels?
A: Thrillers are what I most like to read, so I was naturally drawn to that genre.
Q: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing.
A: There are parts of me in all my books. I just won’t say which parts. J
Q: When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
A: I’ve always enjoyed writing, going back to high school when I won a Chamber of Commerce essay contest. My surgical training and subsequent career didn’t leave much time for creative writing, though I did publish articles in surgical journals (different requirements and format!). But I did go creative with our annual Christmas letter instead of the usual blah-blah, we did this, we did that. Friends and family were amused and said, “You should write a book!” So I did. After failing to land an agent, I self-published
it. When I retired I had plenty of time to devote to writing and I learned one didn’t need an agent to submit to a publisher! My third book got picked up, and I’ve been going strong ever since.
Q: Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
A: My first book came out in 2009, and my last in early 2018. Nine novels, nine years. So, on average, it takes me about a year to write a novel.
Q: Do you have a set schedule for writing?
A: No. Some days I write all day, but most days I don’t write a lick – though I’m always thinking of where to go next with the story.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
A: I don’t know! They just come to me. Sometimes current events inspire me, as with my WIP and my novel-before-last, When the Reaper Comes.
Q: Do you feel humor is important in thrillers?
A: Humor is a part of the human condition, so no matter the genre, if the characters are to be real, humor should be included in their interactions.
Q: What kind of research do you do?
A: I research everything! From geographical locations to foreign names, to weaponry, law enforcement procedures, whether a car model was available in the time setting of my story, etc. Most of my research is done on the Internet. Google has been a tremendous boon to the writer. When I need to describe Kuala Lumpur, which I had to do with my last novel, for example, I don’t have to get on a plane and go there! I also consult folks who have had the jobs I write about so as to make the characters’ actions plausible. My critique group, composed of writers from all walks of life, helps a lot in that regard.
Q: Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
A: I’ll confine my answer to relatively recent history. Back in the day I read the epics of Michener, Clavell, and Wouk and enjoyed them. But now I pretty much confine my reading to thrillers and
thriller/mysteries. John DeMille has to be my favorite current author, and his Plum Island is my favorite book of his. Other authors I read are Lee Child, Harlan Coben, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Clive Cussler, Robert Crais, Elmore Leonard (RIP), John Lescroart. I could go on and on!
Q: What do you think of critique groups?
A: I’m in favor of them – at least the one I belong to, consisting of over a thousand would-be and published authors . I’ve workshopped all my novels there and found the critiques invaluable for polishing my stories. There’s a modest annual fee to join, but the “free” editing it provides is well worth it. I post a chapter at a time to the site, get reviews and comments, and revise accordingly. By the time the novel is done, it’s already gone through an extensive editing process. And reviewing the works of others helps me with my own writing.
Q: What book for yours has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
A: I have physician characters in several of my books, and those are probably the easiest, since it cuts down on the research I have to do. The hardest was probably The Side Effect, even though it had a physician protagonist, because the research required was extensive. The most fun novel I wrote was The Flame, featuring a femme fatale antagonist who is a woman you love to hate.
Q: Have you experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you work through it?
A: I get writer’s block with all my novels. Mainly, it involves trying to figure out how to logically get my characters in the situations I need for my plots. I think about it in bed at night, in the shower the next morning, and as I stare at the blank sheet of paper (Yes, I write drafts longhand.). Eventually it comes to me. At least it always has, so that gives me the confidence I need to keep plugging away at it.
Q: If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
A: Good question. I’m retired, so there’s no day (and night!) job anymore. Hmm. I guess I’d play more golf – perhaps I’d get better at it! – read more, and do more cooking experimentation. But one thing for sure: I wouldn’t go back to wasting my time playing Candy Crush and Ruzzle. I broke my addiction by quitting them cold turkey!