This post is the transcript of my interview with John Hazen, author of seven highly-rated novels. I had the pleasure of reading John’s novel, The Correction, and thought he would be perfect for a Maxwell’s Silver Quill author interview.
David Maxwell: Good morning, John and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. For full transparency, I must admit that I haven’t read your other books, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Correction. According to your author profile on Amazon, you are a fan of everything from historical tales to classic novels, and in your own words, even modern trash. Where would you place your writing based on genre?
John Hazen: First off, David, thank you very much for having me. I likewise am a newcomer to your books as well, but I’m now reading The Drift and am enjoying it very much. I’ve also become acquainted with your blog and have become an instant fan.
I’ve written seven novels, and they would all be considered suspense/thrillers (but hopefully not modern trash). However, there is a fair amount of differentiation in the specific genres they cover. I have one series of three books (so far), the Francine Vega (Fava) Investigative Thrillers, that are straightforward thrillers. They are about a New York City journalist who has a knack for uncovering stories of national and international consequence. Not to brag (okay, I am bragging) but the first of these books, Fava, was named by BestThrillers.com as one of the 18 top FBI Thrillers ( https://bestthrillers.com/the-best-fbi-thrillers/ ), placing me alongside the likes of James Patterson, Lee Child, and David Baldacci. Another of my books, Journey of an American Son, is more of a period piece where a young man makes a trip from Boston to Calcutta, India in 1920 and gets framed for murder there. The other three, Dear Dad, Aceldama, and The Correction have paranormal/supernatural components to them. Dear Dad and The Correction both have time travel while Aceldama involves an ancient curse.
David Maxwell: With The Correction, I noticed right away that you are influenced by specific times in history and locations in the world. My immediate assumption, backed by your profile content, is that you enjoy history and have traveled the world. What led you to travel extensively, where have you been, where would you like to go, and why does history play such a significant role in your writing?
John Hazen: Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved studying history. I guess I owe that to my parents. We didn’t grow up with much money, so we traveled close to home around New England and much of that time was spent visiting sites of historical consequence such as Old Ironsides, Faneuil Hall, and Mystic Seaport.
History does play a significant role in most of my books. Dear Dad is about a soldier in the Vietnam War who finds himself in 1862 Tennessee, serving in General Grant’s army. In Zyklon, the story takes place in the present but the key to stopping a serial killer harkens back to the camps in World War II. Aceldama is like The Correction and is a story that advances through the centuries. Journey of an American Son is a very personal history in that the setting and much of the description comes from a diary my grandfather kept during a business trip he made in 1920 going from Boston to Calcutta.
I have traveled some in my life, but I’m sorry I haven’t visited more parts of the world. We’ve been to Europe quite a bit, especially France. I sometimes kick myself that I didn’t accompany my wife on her business trips to Morocco and Japan. I thought it fascinating when I read your account of living in Vietnam at the onset of the COVID pandemic. It sure gave a different perspective.
David Maxwell: John, a lot of my readers are aspiring authors in their own right. What advice from your personal journey can you offer them about publishing, marketing, or the craft in general?
John Hazen: I’ve spoken with writers who don’t feel they have a story in them that anyone would want to hear. I tell them that the story is in there and the best way to get it to come out is to simply write. Put words on paper or on a screen. It’s like priming the pump. Once you see sentences starting to form, the ideas will emerge to fill in the gaps. I’ve known some writers who can outline entire books before they start to write the novel. I take my hat off to them, but I can’t do that. I’m a much more make-it-up-as-I-go-along author. All I’m saying is, don’t be deterred. It will come.
I’ve been with a small publisher, Black Rose Writing, for about eight years now. I’ve been fortunate as they are a great company to work with. Regarding marketing, I need all the help I can get myself! One piece of advice I can give is to network, network, network. Keep reaching out whether it’s in-person or via social networks. Even if you’re building your audience one person at a time, it’s one person more than you had yesterday.
David Maxwell: A lot of people these days are suggesting that writing is a dying art and that readers are dwindling in numbers. How would you respond to those assertions?
John Hazen: If writing is a dying art, that would mean there’s less competition for us authors, right? Seriously, I do have concerns about the dumbing down of our nation. We are allowing the brains of our youth to atrophy. I had a friend who was an elementary school teacher tell me over thirty years ago that the biggest problem with education at that time was that kids were no longer required to memorize. I’ve often thought about her observation, and that was before social media took hold. It’s only gotten worse. Everything is done for them, and they no longer must use their minds in a complex manner. And that includes reading anything beyond the length of a Tweet! All this being said, I’m going to keep writing. If nothing else, I write for myself as much as I do for anybody else. Even if nobody reads my work, I feel fulfilled when I write.
David Maxwell: In our current society, millennials seem to be more familiar with Stephen King or Dean Koontz than with Hemingway or Faulkner. What are your thoughts on pop fiction versus classic literature?
John Hazen: I believe there’s room for them all. Every era has had its own version of pop fiction. While a writer like Hawthorne or Hemingway or Faulkner was crafting literature, others churned out tawdry adventure pulp novels that the public consumed like there was no tomorrow. This still happens to this day. The question is: Whose work will have lasting power and survive beyond the author’s death?
David Maxwell: Aside from an enjoyable ride, what can readers expect from John Hazen in the near future?
John Hazen: I’m now working on the fourth installment of the Francine Vega Investigative Thriller series. I’m hoping to have this book out in the next six months or so. I’m sure it will be another action-packed thriller. However, I do have one caveat. I had started pulling this book together right after I completed the third in the series, Beyond Revelation. Then one day I had one of those moments that caused me to change course. I had said something stupid to a friend and hurt her feelings. I immediately thought to myself: ‘I wish I had never said that. If I could go back in time and stop those words from leaving my mouth, I would.” And thus, The Correction was born. I put the other project on hold to start this new book. That’s another piece of advice I would give to aspiring writers: Don’t ignore the little voices in your head when they speak to you; they could be giving you the inspiration for your next book. I’m working on the new Vega Thriller again, but who knows what new idea will pop into my brain and send me in a new direction?
David Maxwell: Well, as I said in the beginning, I enjoyed The Correction, so I am looking forward to reading your next book. Before we close, is there anything you would like to share?
John Hazen: I also have enjoyed our conversation and look forward to an ongoing relationship with you, David. One last thing I would say to offer another piece of advice to aspiring authors. This advice is to never pass up an opportunity for shameless self-promotion. So, in this vein, let me tell your readers that they can find my books at http://amzn.to/2tM06Dz.
David Maxwell: I agree wholeheartedly, John, so I will ask this of anyone who reads this post: If you enjoy the content, please like, comment, and share. Also, please subscribe with your email below to receive post alerts and the monthly newsletter.
John, thanks again for taking some time to share your thoughts today. I look forward to reading more of your books and keeping in touch in the future.