Today, I’m so pleased to share a blog interview I did recently with a friend and fellow author, John Spietz. John published his first novel last month—a time-travel sea adventure called THRILL CHASE. I’ve read it, loved it, and highly recommend it. When you click on the book link below, you can read my Amazon review. John is a fellow participant in a writing critique group. It’s called ALIR (Adult Learning In Retirement). From the first chapter he read, I knew it would be a hit and a “thrilling ride” for his readers. As he continued to bring episodes to the group sessions, what he shared continued to intrigue me. The book is a winner. It will not disappoint you.
Please give a first-time author a chance to entertain you by buying his book. Now, let’s have John talk about his novel and his journey as an author.
Tell us about yourself before we talk about your published novel.
Originally from Michigan, I have worked in 28 states and lived in ten. I transitioned from draftsman to Partner in an architectural firm, then started managing construction. I moved to San Antonio in 2004 to handle construction and remodeling contracts for the Defense Commissary Agency.
When did you first realize that you wanted to write? What was your first attempt like? Was that attempt a novel or something shorter?
I retired in 2016. Like a lot of retires, I cast around for something to do to remain relevant. After trying this and that, I resolved to write. My first attempt was an essay entitled “The Commons: A compass for Navigating the Perils of Common Capital Management.” published in Voices de la Luna.
What (in a # 1,2,3 style) gave you the confidence to write a novel?
- As a Construction Manager, I wrote many construction claim adjudication recommendations and felt competent to manage Microsoft Word’s technical aspects.
- Married to an English Literature professor for many years who taught writing, I learned what good vs poor writing practices entailed.
- Current writing assistant software for spellcheck, grammar, and so forth would help me with writing mechanics.
- A course offered by Michelle De La Garza on how to write a novel gave me a road map for putting a book together.
Tell us a bit about Thrill Chase and where it’s available.
Jason, an Alaska commercial fisherman, just returned to Sitka from crabbing in the Bering Sea. He has a pot bust hanging, his girl has left, and he needs more money. For an exorbitant sum—and the thrill—he agrees to crew on a Seattle sailing schooner without knowing where they’re going. Having invented gravity wave time travel, a high-tech Seattle billionaire transports himself, the boat, and crew to the Strait of Gibraltar in 1798. They defend against a pirate attack and aid a Boston merchantman. When a Napoleonic frigate threatens the American, they mangle her rigging with a mini-gun. Attacked again by four Moorish pirates, they blow them up with missiles to impress a becalmed British man-o’-war. After dinner aboard the Brit, a mutiny and violent storm threaten their return. To get back, they must be at a certain point at an exact time. Can they make it?
The book is available on Amazon HERE!
What was your inspiration for writing this novel?
The best advice I received is (1) write about what you know, and (2) write what you would like to read. Having lived in Southeast Alaska for 15 years, where my best friends were commercial fishermen, and having fished—although I’m only a commercial fishing dilettante—for salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp, I know something of Alaska fishing culture. With a lifelong love of history and our maritime heritage, in particular, I feel qualified to bring these interests together in a novel.
What are three interesting facts about Thrill Chase not covered in your synopsis?
- My protagonist is an atheist who believes there must be evidence to support a conclusion.
- The pot bust in the novel is an actual case that happened in Alaska in 1973.
- The Muslims of 1798 used the Koran as a religious pretext for attacks on American shipping. This religious extremism does not differ from ISIS today.
How would you introduce your protagonist to your readers?
I present Jason Oliver, a typical young Alaskan who went north to the Great Land seeking adventure.
Is there a personal quirk that you’ve given to one of your characters? If so, who and why?
The Captain is fond of referring to “all kinds o’ mean, nasty, ugly things,” a quote from an old Arlo Guthrie tune called Alice’s Restaurant. I feel the underlying sarcasm reflects the Captain’s point of view.
What research did you need to do to write this book?
I did a great deal of research into the French Revolution. It was difficult to synthesize the Age of Enlightenment, the Terror, and Napoleon into the brief descriptions appropriate for a novel.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
- Once you accept the premise of time-travel, the characters and setting must be believable.
- I found it challenging to keep the action going and not devolve into a history lesson.
- I may be too “preachy.”
What is the one thing that you wish every reader would take away from your novel?
Melanie did a song in 1970 called “Look what they’ve done to my song, Ma.” In it, she has a line, “Oh, I wish I could find a good book to live in.” I think that line captures the goal of an excellent novel. When people read for pleasure, they want to go live in this other place. Like Jim Stafford said in Wildwood Weed, You can “Take a trip and never leave the farm!”
Stalk the Author All of my author links: Goodreads, Instagram, FB Author Page, Website, etc. are available on my website: www.johnspietz.com
Did any of your favorite authors influence your style of writing? If so, who and how?
Patrick O’Brian’s 20 novels around life in the Royal Navy at the time of Napoleon was my single most influential author. Mostly, I read historical nonfiction. I am fond of Al Gore, Jon Meacham, H. W. Brands, Jared Diamond, and Daniel Walker Howe. The human organization’s trajectory concerns me, but I have found no better way of anticipating the future than analyzing how we got to where we are. History does not repeat itself, but it echos.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing? Tell us about the everyday John Spietz.
I play in the San Antonio Senior Softball League, which gives me more exercise than just running off at the mouth, jumping to conclusions, or flying off the handle. I play a lot of chess and taught it at a local library before the onset of COVID-19. And I like to travel. My wife and I have planned a month in France this year.
Thanks, John, for visiting with us today. Hope you are busy writing your next thriller.
THRILL CHASE – Order it today on Amazon HERE.