Interview with John Heldt, author of The Mine
I did not have a specific genre in mind when I started THE MINE. I intended to write an adventure-filled coming-of-age story with a time travel twist. But halfway through the book, my protagonist bumped into a blue-eyed blonde, lost his way, and a romance novel was born.
2. What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?
Being able to share characters and stories that would otherwise exist only in my head. And, in the case of fiction writing, having the freedom to present them on my terms.
3. What was the first moment you know you wanted to write?
When I wrote book reports in grade school. Many of my classmates hated writing them. I loved it.
4. How do you handle bad reviews?
I acknowledge the criticism and move on. Even the best authors cannot please everyone. You do your best, try to learn from your mistakes, and get it right the next time.
5. What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?
"The Testament," by John Grisham. It is not my favorite book or even my favorite Grisham book, but I liked it because it asked the big questions and prompted me, as a reader, to examine my priorities. Every book should get readers to think.
6. Where is your favorite place to write?
My dining room.
7. When you write, do you write for a long period of time or do you write in short burst?
Definitely short bursts.
8. Where did your inspiration for this book come from?
Several time-travel and 1940s movies and books, my college years, and work experience in the journalism and library fields. One of the joys of writing THE MINE is that I was able to incorporate so much of what I had done, seen, and learned into one book.
9. What is your favorite author and why?
Vince Flynn, hands down. I prefer smartly-written thrillers and he's the best in the business.
10. What words of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just do it. Start writing and do what you can to get published. I had originally planned to put off my first novel until retirement. Writing requires considerable time and energy. But you never know what tomorrow will bring. Write while you have the stories in your head and the passion to do them right.
11. What is your favorite character in your book and why?
Probably Grace. It was easy to identify with Joel, but Grace was the most fun to draw. She is a walking contradiction: strong but vulnerable, extraordinarily beautiful but humble, and someone who's lived a sheltered life but is not afraid to take chances and defy the norms.
12. What is your favorite scene from the book and why?
When Grace has fun at Joel's expense at the baseball game. You see Grace come out of her shell and begin to bond with someone who has been little more than an acquaintance.
13. If your book was turned into a movie who would you want to direct it?
14. What is your favorite time of year?
September. The weather is perfect and football season is under way.
15. Where is your favorite place to read?
A picnic table at a quiet park.
16. What is the worst book you have ever read?
"The Last of the Mohicans." I loved the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, but I had serious difficulty wading through Cooper's prose in the book.
17. What is the best book you have ever read?
"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett.
18. What is the most inspiring quote you have ever heard?
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." --- Henry David Thoreau
19. What is your favorite song?
"I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles.
20. What is your favorite musical artist?
21. What projects do you have planned for the future?
I am working on a second novel about a middle-aged widow who returns to the time and place she attended high school.
22. What is your favorite movie?
23. What do you hope to say to people with your writing?
My goal with THE MINE and with my next work is to entertain, inspire, and prompt readers to think.
24. Is there another hobby you have that you would like to share?
Fishing. It's as close to heaven as you can get on earth.
25. What do you dislike the most about the publishing world?
The numerous and substantial barriers faced by unknown writers.
26. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sipping umbrella drinks in the Virgin Islands, or at least working on another book.
27. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. French roast. Black.
Many thanks to John Heldt for answering all my questions. Be sure to check out his novel, The Mine.