John recently retired as an English professor at Norfolk State University where he designed and taught a course in how to write Science fiction and Fantasy. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and has published approximately 350 stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood anthology series. John has published 20 books. Recent developments: MuseItUp Publishing published two novels, Dark Wizard and Dax Rigby, War Correspondent. Another SF novel, Inspector of the Cross, will appear in February. MuseItUp Publishing also published More Stately Mansions and The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes, and it will release Steam Heat, a tale of erotic horror in December.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a retired English professor who taught for over 40 years at various schools, most recently at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. I love SF and Horror, ’50s science-fiction and horror movies (The War of the Worlds, The Thing, etc.) I’ve been married to my wife Jane for 44 years and we have two children, Lori and David. If I’m healthy, you’re likely to find me out on the tennis court, swatting the ball. I have an impish, quirky, irreverent sense of humor that sometimes backfires.
What made you first decide to become a writer?
I’ve written stories for about as far back as I can remember, but I didn’t always know what I wanted to be because in our society, there is no formal profession such as Writer. Doctor and lawyer and teacher, maybe, but not Writer. Anyway, I can remember scribbling little tales as a small kid and later doing comic strips in crayon that told a story. Later, in my twenties, I made a formal commitment to be a writer, even though I would need a day job to support me.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
In Dax Rigby, War Correspondent Dax travels to Arcadia, a distant world to investigate a war between two alien species, the Flyers and Hoppers. Meanwhile, back on Earth, World War III is raging, and his side is losing it. While on Arcadia, he has rollicking adventures and a passionate romance. He discovers a sinister, mysterious conspiracy, and someone tries to kill him. Arcadia is a lovely tropical world, but it harbors a mysterious secret that will kill him and everyone on the planet if he doesn’t solve it.
What inspired you to write it?
I love distant worlds because anything is possible on them and you can let your imagination run wild. Also, I like the hero, whose secret, cosmic identity I find very moving. Besides the opportunity to create aliens and a complex, alien world, the characters which filled my mind compelled me to tell their stories. Characters such as Casey Frank, Father Ben, and of course, Dax himself.
Dax Rigby, War Correspondent is a coming-of-age story. I find such stories irresistible. When such a tale gets its hooks into me, I’m powerless to resist it. I find when the character changes and learns who he really is, and what he is meant to do, that I change, too. I become more than I was before.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
There are several things. Perhaps the most important is a sense of wonder and awe concerning the infinite possibilities of the universe. That is something the Golden Age of Science Fiction gave to the world. And sometimes the most amazing possibility of all lies within ourselves, in what we can become. This is what happens to Dax, when he comes face to face with his destiny and true identity. The question is, does he have the courage to accept them?
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Dax Rigby, War Correspondent is available at Amazon. Others of my books are also available there. It is also available at MuseItUp Publishing, which has published Dax Rigby and other books by yours truly.
If you could meet any writer (living or dead) who would it be?
What leaps to mind first is Shakespeare, but I think before him, I’d like to sit down with Octavia E. Butler, an African-American science fiction writer. I met her once, when she came to a conference at Norfolk State University on genre fiction. She was so original, I’d like to talk to her more, ask her about “Bloodchild” and her other works.
Hmm, though Henry James was never a party looking for a place to happen, I’d like to ask him what interpretation is the correct one for The Turn of the Screw. Is the governess mad, or are the ghosts really there? But I think he wanted both interpretations to be viable. Sometimes, ambiguity is preferable.
What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?
I really love teaching and interacting with young, bright people. I did it all my life, and I miss it. But Celiac disease took its toll. I was so sick, I had to quit teaching for the last three or four weeks of the 2011 spring semester. When I told one of my classes I hated to leave them but I had no choice, they gave me the most heartwarming experience of my life. They stood up and formed a line, and I hugged each one in turn, and they hugged back. Hugs are great.
I’m much better now, thanks.
What is up next for you?
Well, I’m taking a third shot at writing the sequel to Beyond Those Distant Stars (published by Mundania Press) which is my best-selling novel (not, though, a best seller). Maybe this time it will go more smoothly and I will lick those plausibility problems. Stella, the main character, is cyber-enhanced and has superhuman strength. She is also a woman who saved the human race from mysterious, seemingly invincible aliens. Now, in Star Warrior, she confronts a more insidious threat, and her survival depends on her greatest strength: her abilities as a warrior.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m a bit psychic. I can always tell in advance when a Daily Double is about to pop up on Jeopardy. It’s just a feeling I have. On second thought, that’s not very psychic, is it? But it amazes me.
I’m a sucker for rock ‘n’ roll. I think it’s the best music ever, though that may be because I’m a child of the ’50s.