Friday, August 3, 2018

Interview with author John W Feist

Author John W Feist joins me today and we’re chatting about his new political thriller, Night Rain, Tokyo.

John W. Feist is the author of a political thriller, Night Rain, Tokyo (2018), and a literary novel, Diamond Mornings (eLectio Publishing, 2016). He is semiretired from a career in business law in California and government relations advocacy in Washington, D.C. His work experiences planted the seeds for Night Rain, Tokyo, with its lawyer-protagonist, observations of Japanese culture, and high-stakes international business deals. He is currently working on a sequel which explores other geopolitical business themes, also in a Japanese setting.

Having inherited from his mother, an Equity actor, a love of drama and literature, Feist has appeared on Washington, D.C.-area stages, and provided live audio descriptions of theatre and opera performances for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Kansas and a JD from Stanford Law School. Feist lives in Falls Church, Virginia. He has two sons and two grandchildren who live in California.

Welcome, John. Please tell us about your current release:
Thanks for that question, I’m glad to talk about it. Night Rain, Tokyo as a novel, lets me explore ideas and themes that are significant to me, especially the themes of solitude and commitment. The same themes are found in my first book, Diamond Mornings, which is set in Kansas in the 1890’s. Night Rain, Tokyo is set more than a hundred twenty years later in Washington, DC, Napa Valley, CA, and Tokyo Japan. Family drama collides with an international terrorist attack on American infrastructure, and the protagonist must solve both challenges to move forward in his life of solitude to find romance.

What inspired you to write this book?
The struggles the characters explored in Diamond Mornings are as relevant and poignant today as they were in the late nineteenth century. The Issue of commitment, for example, grips the Kansas banker of the previous book on his journeys into Indian Territory, as much as it does the California lawyer of Night Rain, Tokyo on his journeys between Washington and Japan. Although the books involve different time periods, they definitely involve the same human tensions. For example, we can all relate to the pangs of solitude Amaya Mori describes in Night Rain, Tokyo:

“Brad. I have learned to resist filling up on impulse the empty space of simply being alone.” She pauses. In a small voice that rides on an exhale, she says, “Brad, that space is so private, not even I easily think about it to myself. I have nothing of value to say to you about it. I would, perhaps, tell you what I think of it if I had clear thoughts. That space lives within me like a vital organ I cannot feel or describe.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
The same characters in Night Rain, Tokyo must deal with even darker geopolitical issues in the sequel I am working on now.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I have written all my working life. As a lawyer I have written for relatively small audiences—a client, say, or a panel of appellate judges, or a Congressional committee. In semi-retirement from that kind of writing I have now stepped into the world of writing fiction. So the most honest answer would have to be: “many years ago, and only recently.” You’re right, that’s confusing!

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?
To me, writing has always been the most satisfying part of work. It’s fun for me. So, these days I divide up days between writing for work and writing for leisure, but it’s all fun. I like classical music concerts, canoeing, cooking, and playing the violin to my cat.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Oh that. I’ve known all my life that the writing part of me can’t tell time. I meet deadlines, but that’s not what I mean. I write at all hours of the day or night. The compulsion to put something on paper knows no clock. I’m certainly not alone in that.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was an only child, so I spent a lot of my time trying to think like an adult. It took me years and years to make it, and then I wanted to think like a child, of course. But always I have wanted to be committed. That’s been a recurring theme for me.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Sure. I’ll share something that has stayed with me from my first college course in writing. Like all such courses we had to turn in a paper every Friday, and longer ones at the end. Professor Stone asked us to prepare each paper as though it was to be published in The New Yorker. That has always a valuable prompt for me.

Thanks for being here today, John.

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