I hope everyone is keeping safe during these strange times.
I’m glad to say I am still talking to writers and readers about their work. Some people have been telling me it’s hard to keep on writing, others are enjoying free time to do just that. And the same for the readers I’ve spoken to; some are making their way through their TBR pile while others, like me, can’t settle on a book!
Today John Coon is going to tell us about his writing.
How long have you been writing?
I guess my answer hinges on how you define writing. I published my first novel, Pandora Reborn, in 2018 and my second novel, Under a Fallen Sun, in 2019. I've been writing in one form or another for most of my life. I've spent more than 15 years working as a journalist. And I wrote my first unpublished stories nearly 30 years ago.
What started you writing?
When I was 12 years old, one of my older sisters wrote some short stories. I immediately decided I could write stories too. My parents owned a manual typewriter that they set up on a table at the back of the kitchen. I grabbed some orange typing paper and started writing stories. My early stories had a litter of mischievous kittens as the main characters. They went on some silly adventures. Each character was based on pet cats our family owned at the time.
Has your style of writing changed over the years?
I've become more of a visual writer as I've aged. That's one area where being a sports journalist has influenced me. I do everything I can to immerse my readers in a scene. Whenever I write a scene, I always close my eyes and visualize it like I'm watching a movie. I try to pass the same experience onto my readers.
What keeps you writing?
Few things bring me greater happiness than creating stories and sharing them with other people. It's so fun to build these fictional worlds and then see other people enjoy them as much as I do. Life without imagination and creativity is hollow. I plan to write as long as I still breathe.
Was there someone or something made you decide to start writing?
My Mom encouraged me to cultivate my writing talents. She became the first audience for my stories and always had high praise for what I wrote. My one regret is that she did not live long enough to see me eventually publish stories.
What kind of books do you write? Do you specialize in a genre or do you write a variety of novels?
I never want to be pigeonholed into a specific genre. It feels so limiting from a creative standpoint if everything you write has to be a horror novel, or a romance novel, or a mystery novel, or check some other specific box. My focus as an author is on creating characters and putting them in situations that challenge them in one way or another without regard to genre. Sometimes, it works best as a science fiction story. Other times, it could work best as a horror story or a story that encompasses some other genre. Placing no limits on yourself as an author opens the door for you to write the stories you are meant to write.
How do you collect ideas for your novels?
My ideas come from so many random sources. They are sparked by conversations, stories in the news, myths and legends, historical events, and personal experiences just to name a few things. I keep a running list where I jot down story ideas whenever one pops up. I have compiled literally dozens of ideas on my list. I hope to turn them all into full-fledged short stories or novels at some point in the future.
Do you identify with your main characters? Is there something of you in them?
You can't be author and not have some element of yourself not show up within your characters. Authors draw on their own experience in crafting stories – even if it is a space adventure set on a distant planet. Having said that, I don't always identify with or agree with every element in my characters. They make choices I would never make in real life. Their personalities are often wildly different from my own. That's a good thing. Characters are a chance to explore possibilities that are not intrinsically a part of your personality or your actions as an author.
What about settings? Are they places you are familiar with? Or are they created in your imagination?
Both Pandora Reborn and Under a Fallen Sun feature fictional small towns as the main setting. In each case, I drew inspiration for some elements of the town from places I lived. Deer Falls in Pandora Reborn draws considerable inspiration from Kamas, my childhood hometown in Utah. Travis in Under a Fallen Sun takes inspiration from Winnie, a small Texas town I lived in for a short time when I was 19 years old. My current novel-in-progress takes place on a distant planet for a considerable portion of the book. Even in creating that setting, I draw some inspiration from places where I've lived or visited.
Do you want your novels to get people thinking? Or are they for pure enjoyment?
I don't intentionally set out to impose a specific message in my novels. My main goal is to simply tell a story and let the readers draw their own conclusions. I want them to come away feeling like they have undertaken a thrilling journey filled with three-dimensional characters. Themes usually evolve on their own. Pandora Reborn explores the dangers of allowing yourself to become isolated and consumed by revenge, self-pity, or fear. Under a Fallen Sun explores the theme of survival and what lengths – good and bad – some people will go to in order to survive.
Any novel or novels you are currently writing that you would like to talk about?
I am putting the finishing touches on my third novel for a planned release later this summer. It's another science fiction novel that takes place in the same fictional universe as my second novel Under a Fallen Sun. This story follows a crew of astronauts from a distant planet who discover a probe sent from Earth on the fringes of their solar system. Beyond that, I'm developing two sequels to Pandora Reborn, with an anticipated publication date sometime in 2021 or 2022 for those projects.
Thank you for talking to us today, John.
If you’d like to know more about John Coon and his books you can find him at:
Author website: http://johncoon.net/