Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author John A. Heldt

glow in the dark

Hi Readers, I have a lovely interview with author John A. Heldt and his novels Indiana Belle and Class of ’59.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up in Oregon and Washington, the third oldest of six kids, and began writing professionally when I got out of college. For about a dozen years, I wrote and edited sports articles for daily newspapers. I switched careers in the late 1990s and have worked in libraries ever since. When not writing and marketing novels, I like to walk the dog, watch sports, and make homemade beer. I turned to novel writing in 2012 with the publishing of The Mine. I am a married father of three grown children.

What inspired you to write?

I write because I like sharing the stories. Writing is a release. It’s a way of expressing myself.

What inspired your novel?

The 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass was an inspiration for Indiana Belle. So were The Great Gatsby and Legends of the Fall. I wanted to set at least one of my books in the Roaring Twenties.

What is the genre?

Indiana Belle, like all of my novels, is a multi-genre work that spans everything from historical fiction, romance, and time travel to adventure, humor, and fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I like taking fish out of water — literarily and figuratively. I like putting 21st-century protagonists in 20th-century settings and seeing how they react.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I outline the plot extensively before writing a single word and develop the characters as I go. More often than not, I will add description to the story in later drafts. I have begun doing just that in Class of ’59. I expect to publish that book, the fourth novel in the American Journey series, by the middle of September.

What inspired your protagonist?

No one person or thing inspired Cameron Coelho, the protagonist of Indiana Belle. He is a fresh creation, even though he resembles the American actor Adrian Grenier and acts like a typical graduate student. Quiet, thoughtful, and gentlemanly, Cameron is also a lot like Kevin Johnson, the protagonist of The Fire, my fourth novel and the fourth book of the Northwest Passage series.

What inspired your antagonist?

I drew inspiration from villains I have seen in movies and television programs.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The beginning was the hardest. When you write books in a series and all the books have the same departure point — in this case, a mansion in Los Angeles — you have to be creative. Both Indiana Belle and Class of ’59 start out much differently than September Sky and Mercer Street, the first two books of the American Journey series.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

I enjoyed writing the chapters where Cameron interacts with Candice Bell, the heroine of Indiana Belle. The two complement each other and click from the beginning.

Are you a full-time or a part-time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I’m a full-time writer in that I spend more than 40 hours per week on writing and marketing. But I also work part-time as a reference assistant in a university library.

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to the audio edition of Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, the third book in his Century Trilogy. I listen to books more than read them these days.

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

Ken Follett, Nelson DeMille, Vince Flynn, Stephen King, Clive Cussler, and John Jakes top my list of favorite authors.

How about your favorite books? What would be your top 5?

My top five are: “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, “Wild Fire” by Nelson DeMille, “The Firm” by John Grisham, and “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy.









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