I’d like to welcome John A. Heldt as my special guest today. He’s the author of The Journey. Please enjoy his insightful interview…
1. Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Yes. Don’t give up. Don’t put off your project. And don’t let your inner critic overrule your inner artist. Write the book you want to write.
2. What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?
I don’t mind promoting my works, even though the job is very time-consuming. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot about writing, literature, the publishing business, and myself.
3. What genre do you write for?
That’s a question I’m still trying to answer. I wrote The Mine with the romance reader in mind. The Journey, my latest work, is a coming-of-age story. Both are time-travel stories set in the Pacific Northwest in the 20th century. Each offers romance, humor, and intrigue, though in different amounts. For the most part, I didn’t give a lot of thought to genre when I wrote the two books. I wanted to produce works that would appeal to people of all ages and all reading tastes. Both novels are ones I believe most readers would enjoy.
4. What are your current/next projects?
My current project, The Journey, went on sale November 3. My next book, The Show, is the third title in the Northwest Passage time-travel series and the much-anticipated sequel to The Mine. I expect to publish it by next summer. Told primarily from the perspective of Grace Vandenberg, the heroine of The Mine, The Show will address many unanswered questions from the first book.
5. Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?
Both. I usually work alone when producing a first draft. But I depend on beta readers when preparing rough drafts for publication. I have found my beta readers to be indispensible.
6. How do you find time to write?
I make time, usually in the evenings. Writing is a very time-consuming task.
7. Is there any writing ritual you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?
Yes. I listen to music from the relevant time period. When I wrote The Mine, I immersed myself in music of 1941 and the Big Band Era: Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and others. When I drafted and wrote The Journey, I reacquainted myself with music I had listened to in high school in 1979 and 1980: the Knack, the Cars, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, even disco. When I write The Show, I plan to familiarize myself with ragtime as much of the book is set in 1918 and 1919.
8. Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?
I always write the beginning first. I outline the book, write chapter summaries, and then write the chapters themselves. The process is very methodical. I don’t think I could write a novel any other way.
9. While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of your characters?
Yes. When writing something as complex as a novel, you have to identify with your characters. You have to get inside their heads. I still think of Joel and Grace, the primary characters from The Mine. They seem real to me and probably always will.
10. How did you come up with the title?
I honestly can’t remember. I just know that The Journey was my choice from the start. It is also very appropriate. Both of my primary characters, Michelle Richardson and Shelly Preston embark on life-changing journeys during the school year of 1979-80.
11. What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?
I was inspired by everything from books and movies to my own educational experiences. The Journey is a novel that I believe will appeal to those of us who came of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is the story of Michelle Preston Richardson. Childless, unfulfilled, and directionless after the death of her entrepreneur husband in 2010, the 48-year-old Seattle widow decides to reconnect with her happier past by attending a 30th class reunion in her rural hometown. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979. Shocked, depressed, and nearly penniless, Michelle slowly builds a new life. She lands a secretarial job at Unionville High, makes new friends, and falls in love. She also guides her younger self, Shelly Preston, and her childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Unlike Joel Smith, the time-traveler in The Mine, Michelle does not shy away from changing the fate of others. She charges forward. But she quickly learns that even good deeds can have complicated and potentially deadly consequences. The Journey is a book about two remarkable women: a regretful widow making the most of her second shot at life and a high-school senior making big decisions as she enters adulthood. What makes this story compelling, in my opinion, is that the two women are the same person.
12. Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?