Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Interview with author John Herrick

Author John Herrick is in the hot seat today. I’m chatting with him about his new romantic comedy novel, Beautiful Mess.

During his virtual book tour, John will be awarding a Kindle version of Beautiful Mess, plus free Kindle versions of his entire backlist to one lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.

The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his novel Between These Walls.

Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.

His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.

Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Del Corwyn hasn’t had a hit film since his Academy Award nomination 40 years ago. He’s desperate to return to the spotlight but teeters on bankruptcy. Del is a forgotten legend—until, while combing through personal memorabilia, he discovers an original screenplay written by his once-close friend, Marilyn Monroe, who named Del as its legal guardian. The news goes viral. Suddenly, Del skyrockets to the A-list and has a chance to revive his career—if he’s willing to sacrifice his friend’s memory and reputation along the way.

Beautiful Mess is a humorous coming-of-age story about a 78-year-old man who lives in his own fictional world. The novel incorporates lesser-known facts about Marilyn Monroe and imagines the further impact she might have made on pop culture if her life hadn’t reached an abrupt end.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a fan of Marilyn Monroe’s films. I can never get enough of The Seven-Year Itch! But long before I ever watched her films, I wondered what tragedy must have existed underneath her public persona. Seven years ago, I read a biography of her and learned something I never knew: a close acquaintance betrayed her trust, which forced the actress into a mental institution against her will. That ordeal frightened her because she was trapped, all alone, and couldn’t do anything to stop it.

I thought to myself, “Even though they released her, the experience must have left scars. Nobody could escape that predicament unchanged.” I sensed a story there, so I tucked the idea away. I couldn’t shake it. I sought a way to delve into that experience while respecting her memory and presenting her as a human being who had vulnerabilities like you and I. To an extent, Del Corwyn, my protagonist, embodies how Marilyn Monroe might have felt if she had lived to age 78 and faced a spotlight that might have gone dark.

Excerpt from
Beautiful Mess:
            “Have you read this, Del?”
            “I have.”
            “Pretty deep shit in here. Dark shit, the kind that scares the hell out of you.” Arnie skipped to the screenplay’s midpoint and read some more. “And talk about explicit. The profanity, the sexual content, everything.”
            “She made herself vulnerable, no doubt.”
            “Damn, Del. This woman must’ve been more fucked up than we thought.”
            Del winced. “Arnie, cut it out.”
            “Sorry, I forgot you two were pals.” The agent shook his head in an absentminded manner, his mouth hanging open as he read further. “No wonder she didn’t show this to anybody else. Can you imagine how people would have reacted to this in 1962? The film would’ve been X-rated—if ratings had existed back then—and gotten banned from theaters. People would’ve protested outside. This script would’ve ruined Marilyn Monroe’s career.”
            “But today—”
            “—it’ll resurrect it.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Arghhh! I’m swimming through that abyss where I research topics and take stabs at how the stories might play out. So far, I’ve toyed with ideas for romantic comedies, suspense and historical fiction, plus a couple of possible series characters. It drives me crazy, because it takes forever to land on my next topic. Plus, recurring depression tends to fog my mind, so that adds a layer to the battle. Once I land on the right concept, though, I know it in my gut and stick there for the next year or so, which makes it worth the wait. And one of these days, I’ll be thankful for these false starts, because now I have several book ideas partially fleshed out.

Meanwhile, I have another romantic-comedy waiting in the wings for its release date. That should be late 2018 or so. The tone is similar to Beautiful Mess, but the characters are in their 20s.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At eight years old, I had some free time after finishing a class assignment. The kid next to me was busy drawing pictures and writing things underneath them. I asked her what she was working on, and she told me she was writing a story. It looked like fun, so I gave it a try—and fell in love with it. I’ve been a writer ever since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have a full-time career in addition to the books. I used to write at night, but once you’ve worked all day and taken a break to exercise and eat dinner, your body realizes it’s tired. It goes into rest mode and gets lazy, which removed some of my joy from the process. Plus, it’s easier to fudge on your bedtime, so I was getting less and less sleep, which, over time, wears you down. So I reversed the schedule. Nowadays, I arrive at Starbucks around 5:30am, do book work while watching the sunrise, and work until I need to leave for the full-time job. By transitioning immediately from books to the office, I stay in work mode, which removes my body’s chance to grow lazy. That restored my joy. It also means I get to enjoy every minute—literally every minute—of sunlight God gives me each day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wouldn’t call it interesting, but I need to establish a routine, then repeat that routine every day until I finish the project. Otherwise, creative impulses take over and pull my brain all over the place. I’m a very methodical writer—i.e., a boring writer!—which is a byproduct of working in the IT arena for several years.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a couple of years as a young kid, I wanted to be a pastor or teacher. But when I was ten years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve never questioned it since then. Even my full-time job is a blend of writing, analytics and marketing. It keeps my skills sharp for the book work.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love hearing from readers and try to reply to everything I receive. So feel free to contact me on my website, or on social media. And if you’re in the mood for a blend of romance, drama and laughter, I believe you’ll enjoy Beautiful Mess!

My short story "Hit and Run" will be available as a free Kindle download today, Aug 1, as well as on Aug 2, Aug 6, and Aug 7th.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Thanks for letting me stop by. Thanks to your readers, too!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

John Herrick said...

Hi Lisa and readers! Thanks for letting me stop by!