Welcome to my first Indie Author Friday! Thanks to all who have signed up to be featured – the response has been tremendous and I’m booking into September now.
John Hazen kicks things off for us today. He’s been pretty busy these past few years – he’s published four books and is working on his fifth. Suspense lovers – heads up!
Thank you so much, Teri, for having me on your blog. It’s always rewarding when fellow authors are so supportive and provide a platform to get my story out there. Let me tell a bit about myself. I live with Lynn, my wife of 36 years, in New Jersey with plans to relocate to Florida in the not too distant future.
Although writing’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m not one of those who will tell you they started writing when they were ten. I guess I was a late bloomer and only started writing novels in earnest in my early 50s. Well, I just turned 60 and I’m very proud that I now have four suspense novels floating around out there and am working on a fifth.
I self-published my first novel, Dear Dad, through Amazon.
Dear Dad ( http://amzn.to/1VYgo2Z ) – A Vietnam War soldier finds redemption only after he makes a mystical trip back to 1862 Tennessee when he finds himself serving in a Union Army field hospital leading up to the Battle of Shiloh.
Fava (http://amzn.to/1sqss0b ) – The biggest story of a New York City TV reporter’s career can make her famous, kill her, and/or bring about World War III.
Journey of an American Son (http://amzn.to/1OuVZA5 ) – A young man is framed for murder half way around the globe in 1920 and his wife must race to prove his innocence and free.
Aceldama ( http://amzn.to/1sr15Uq ) – A young woman must battle logic and the Catholic Church to free her husband from the clutches of an ancient curse that is slowing sapping his life away.
What is something memorable you’ve heard from your readers/fans?
There are several comments that jump to mind as the most memorable I’ve received from my readers (It would be extremely presumptuous of me to say I have “fans.”). It’s always great to read: “couldn’t put it down” or “a must read.” However, if I had to pick one, the comment that absolutely stands out is one I received on my book, Dear Dad, which is about a Vietnam War soldier who gets seriously wounded and when he wakes up he finds himself in a Civil War field hospital where he finds redemption. The comment was: “As a Vietnam Veteran, I particularly related to this story.”
Not being a veteran of the Vietnam War (or of any war for that matter), I was nervous about whether I captured the war and the era correctly. I also wanted to be properly respectful of those who did serve our country, who did their duty when it was not the most popular thing to do. I therefore felt especially proud that perhaps I did it right after seeing that comment.
Any writer of fiction, I believe, puts themselves out there for people to pick you apart but it’s especially nerve wracking when you’re writing about something many people lived through who can come back to you and tell you that you’re full of it. “It didn’t happen that way,” they’d say and, as a result, you’d lose all credibility. I absolutely love J.K. Rowling but at least she did not face the fear of some wizard out there saying: “That’s not how it happened, J.K.! Here’s how that spell should have been cast.”
What do you love most about the writing process?
Creating characters. I love inventing people and then coming up with ways to flesh them out and make them real people to my readers.
Some of my favorite characters are ones who I initially insert for a minor role to help move the story along but then as time goes on, they evolve into major figures right before my eyes. In Fava for instance, FBI Special Agent Will Allen started off as a minor annoyance who is one of the roadblocks keeping the main protagonist, NYC TV reporter Francine Vega, from getting to the truth. But then as I was writing the book, Special Agent Allen kept on inserting himself back into the story until I had no choice but to make him an integral part of the book.
In Aceldama, the character René Bouvil, a captain in the French Gendarmerie (and based on a real person), started off with basically a cameo role and ends up pivotal to the story. Similarly, in Journey of an American Son, Sergeant Walter Jones began as the main character’s squad leader in World War I but comes back later as a major character. It’s almost like these people are a little shy at first but then they gradually gain their voices, demanding to be heard.
What do you do to get book reviews?
Begging and groveling are my two primary strategies.
Seriously, as most writers know, it’s tough getting reviews. A part of me is still naive enough to believe that my books are so interesting and topical that readers will be drawn to them and the reviews will be forthcoming. But since this groundswell of support is not going to happen on it’s own, I’ve had to push myself out there.
I’m quite active on social media to get my name and my work out there. More than a few comments have come as a result of masterly constructed and clever Tweets I’d put out there. I’ve also participated in review swaps with other authors and I have sent inquiries to various blogs that highlight that they do book reviews.
Through Black Rose, I was able to get my book, Fava, into a free give away promotion through BookBub that has resulted in over seventy reviews for that book. But the participation did cost me a fair amount of money, so it was a trade-off.
I must say I was impressed that you’ve been able to gather 18 reviews for Sarah in just over a month. I should be asking you for tips.
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
Without question it would be Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He had such quiet dignity as he stood for what was right, even when it was not popular. He was a learned man who loved knowledge surrounded by the uneducated, but he didn’t flaunt his intellect and instead used it to help others. The one thing I admired most is that he treated everyone, regardless of their class or color, with respect. Plus, it wouldn’t have hurt to be played by Gregory Peck in the movie.
What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
I have a fair number of “favorite” books (including my own, of course) so this is a tough question to answer but there is one that stands out in my mind. That book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It has everything: great characters, great writing, an uplifting story and classic themes. It’s long, so it would occupy my time. There are also the full panoply of human intentions and emotions ranging from the absolute unabashed goodness of Cosette and the Bishop through the more nuanced personalities of Jean Valjean and Javert to the absolute despicable evil of the Thernadiers. It is also a book that captures the endurance of the human spirit even in the most degrading and oppressive of conditions, which would be appropriate for being stranded on a desert island.
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
I have always had a thing for Thor. I remember watching a Saturday morning cartoon called The Mighty Thor and being fascinated by him. I loved that hammer. He was a champion for good but he had his flaws, namely arrogance that needed to be reigned in. It would be neat to have everyone think of me once a week (Thursday) as well as whenever there’s a thunderstorm. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be a god?
So, thank you again, Teri, for having me here. If any of my newfound “fans” want to learn anything more about me, I invite them to see my website www.johnwhazen.com or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/john.hazen.92?fref=ts or on Twitter @john_hazen .