NEWSFLASH. The newly edited and reissued Epidemic is FREE to download 19th – 20 th March so get your copy here. Failure to do so may be hazardous to your health!!
Today I am privileged to be interviewing John Holt on my blog. John is the creator of the extremely dogged and likeable Private Detective Tom Kendall. As john was recently interviewed by my good friend, Tricia Drammeh, on her Authors to Watch blog I am anxious to not cover the same ground.
Me: I’m delighted that you can be here today John.
John: I’m delighted to be here. It’s nice of you to invite me
Me: Tricia covered your interests and background in her interview so I thought I would concentrate more on your plots and characterisation. What in your view are Tom Kendall’s most endearing qualities?
John: He really has so many I think, but I suppose the main quality would be that he is determined. Nothing gets in his way, even his own doubts sometimes. He never gives up until he is shown to be wrong (I can’t remember the last time that happened). He is human, with human failings, and weaknesses. He has a sense of humour.
Mel: Do you ever see Kendall & Mollie as a sort of James Bond and Moneypenny working relationship? I must admit that’s what I see when I read about them.
John: Not really. Bond can manage perfectly well without Moneypenny. That isn’t the case with Kendall and Mollie. You see, even though Kendall would never admit it he relies on Mollie. She listens to him when he has doubts, she will often put him back on the right track. Often she will raise a question that leads him an elusive answer. Mollie is his support, his secretary, and his partner (business partner that is).
Me: In both Mackenzie Dossier and A Killing in the City you created two very influential villains John Wyndham Collier (A Killing) and Ian Duncan (Mackenzie). Do you find it hard to write about villains given that you yourself have a strong moral core?
John: There are more than enough villains in this world, whether they be corrupt politicians, crooked bankers, drug barons, you name it. I found it very easy to create my villains, and very enjoyable. They are all larger than life (although I still feel that they are realist). They are all powerful wealthy men seeking power and control. I have to say I do enjoy creating these characters.
Me: Following your recent break from Night publishing you have undertaken to go the Lulu self-publishing route like me. How have you found it so far?
John: Remember one thing Mel, an author can manage perfectly well without a publisher, but a publisher is utterly lost without an author. With companies like Lulu.com, and Amazon’s Kindle Direct, it is so easy to place your work in front of the public. I now have two books out both as paperback, and as an ebook, issued on my own banner Phoenix. I am now working on a third. I realise that getting published is the easiest thing in the world. The difficulty, of course, is promoting your work, but in that regard it’s no different now, than it was with Night.
Me: Did you do the cover designs yourself? I must say I like the new cover for A Killing in the City. The brilliantly talented Jacoba Dorothy does all my cover art.
John: I have designed all of my covers myself. I keep them simple. Basically I just look for a photograph on the internet that seems appropriate. Get permission to use where necessary, and add the lettering. Jacoba is very talented and she has produced some excellent work.
Me: Have any of the Kendall novels suddenly taken over and gone down roads you hadn’t expected? If so did you go with the new direction or try to revert to the original plot plan?
John: “The Mackenzie Dossier” was originally intended to be a straight forward story involving political corruption. About one third of the way through a murder took place. I then needed a private detective to solve the crime. I couldn’t leave to the local police, the police chief was one of the corrupt politicians. So Tom Kendall was created. He hasn’t gone away since.
Me: What can we expect to see from you in the next few months? Will there be a fifth Kendall book? (crosses fingers hopefully)
John: So far there have been four Tom Kendall novels, but only two are available as an ebook. It is intended that “The Marinski Affair” (actually the second Tom Kendall novel) will be available as an ebook towards the end of November. That will leave “Epidemic” (the third Kendall novel). Epidemic is currently in contract with raider Publishing International in New York, and only available as a paperback. That contract runs out in January 2014. Then I intend issuing it as an ebook. In the meantime I am working on two other Kendall novels, which I hope will be ready for publication in 2013.
Me: what do you think are Kendall’s main weaknesses? How would you describe Tom Kendall in five words?
John: Kendall’s weaknesses have got to be his poor diet. He likes burgers, and fries. Mollie tries to keep him eating healthily, but doesn’t always succeed. His other weakness I suppose is his fitness. He doesn’t exercise as much as Mollie would like. Describe him in five words – A Very Human Person – okay so that’s only four words.
Me; Is there much of you in Kendall? I know we often put something of ourselves into our characters.
John: I’m a little like Kendall I suppose. I am determined. Once I get an idea I don’t let go. I have a sense of humour. I’m down to earth, with no airs and graces. I’m not as fit as I would like to be.
Me: Have you ever based a character at least partly on someone you know personally?
John: I write about murder, and corruption. Powerful people, who would stop at nothing to get what they want and to hell with everyone else. I have to say this isn’t something I come across that often in my normal life. So no none of my characters are based on any one person. The names might be real people but that’s where the similarity ends.
Me; Last question and I know it is one that most authors hate. Which of your books do you like the most?
John: That’s a difficult one, but I think it would either be “The Marinski Affair” or “Epidemic”. On balance I suppose “Epidemic”.
Me: Well thanks for your time John. A Killing in the City is free to download tomorrow. As it has been re-issued, Amazon see it as a new book so even if you already have it you can download it again. Therefore no excuse.
Useful John Holt links.
Interview with Tricia Drammeh
John Holt’s Lulu author spotlight
The Mackenzie Dossier