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Brittany Hughes graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing, and subsequently earned a Masters in Teaching. She recently spent two years living in the Midwest, a landscape that inspired the setting of her novel, "Breaking Clay." ... [more]

As a kid, A.L. Torres fell in love with fantastic stories of worlds beyond our own such as "Animal Farm," "On the Beach" and "Metamorphosis." More recently, he's added "The Giver," "The Road" and "Hunger Games" as some of his favorites, ... [more]

Robert Steedman is a proud native New Yorker, receiving his B.A. in Art History from State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.S. Ed. in Art Education from Nazareth College. His first YA manuscript, FALLING, took First Place ... [more]


Janet Zupan earned her M.F.A. from the University of Montana in 1996. Her work appears in the collection, MONTANA WOMEN WRITERS: A GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART (Far Country) ... [more]


           




• The Six Act Two-Goal Novel

• Maximizing Opps For Verve

• A Dose of Antagonism

• Guide to Best Comparables

• Crossing the Epiphany Line

• Novel Coverage Counts

• Storyboarding Scenes

• Sympathy Factors in Hook

• Third Person Point of View






Algonkian Emerging Author Interviews            More Emerging Author Interviews

A Talk With John Loving About His Writing Life and Novel

TITLE:  A PLACE AIN'T NO CRYING
GENRE:  General Fiction
COMPS:  SCORCHED EARTH by Robbins / A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME by Cash
WORDS:  100,000+

John Loving began writing in 2005 after a successful career in real-estate development. His first book, COMBAT ADVISOR: HOW AMERICA WON THE WAR AND LOST THE PEACE IN VIETNAM, was adopted by the US Army as required reading for senior Army officers going to Iraq as military advisors. His second book, A SOLDIER'S FAITH, served as a primary text for the Combat Soldier's Oral History Course at James Madison University. His first novel, SOUL OF THE SANDHILLS, is currently being marketed among New York based publishers. John attended the University of Richmond where he received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Commerce. He and his wife, Lennis, live in Raleigh, NC.


My biggest challenge is to stay focused and resist the temptation to jump in and begin writing without first doing the necessary research and planning. Of course, the other big challenge is to continually ask the question, "Will this subject matter be commercially desirable, and am I developing it in such a way that it will keep the interest of readers?" It won't necessarily sell just because I love it.

- John Loving


A: Tell us something about yourself as it relates to your writing life. Also, what inspired you to begin the novel?

My first two books were nonfiction and dealt with my service as a soldier in Vietnam, but I've always wanted to write fiction. I finished my first novel, SOUL OF THE SANDHILLS, earlier this year, and Phyllis Westberg of Harold Ober Associates is handling the marketing. I've been doing research and planning for the second over the last four months, and I'm just starting the writing now. I enjoy the whole process immensely.

A: Who are you reading now? Which authors and novels have been an inspiration to you, and why?

Early in life I was strongly influenced by many of our classic American novelists, especially Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Steinbeck. I'm currently reading ASSASSIN'S GALLERY by David Robbins, and I just finished John Irving's A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. I like Robbins for his ability to range between contemporary subjects such as SCORCHED EARTH, and historical fictions such as END OF WAR. Of course, Irving is probably one of the best writers of literary fiction in America today, and we could all benefit from imitating his prose. During the last year, I have also read Richard Ford's CANADA, INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Barbara Kyle's ENTRAPPED. I have previously liked her historical novels for their portrayals of medieval England. Finally, I have been greatly influenced by Wally Cash's A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME because of its colorful portrayal of mountain folk living in a small North Carolina town.

A: Can you tell us about your novel?

The novel I'm working on now is set in a small town in eastern Virginia, an area commonly called Tidewater. The protagonist is a forty-five year old lieutenant colonel who is in Iraq at the beginning of the story, but who's forced to leave the Army because he disobeys the orders of a superior officer. He returns to his home town where he hopes to establish a new life as a civilian and reconnect with an old girl friend. Of course he encounters troubles: his sister's Pakistani fiancé is a suspected jihadist, his ex-girlfriend is having an affair with the corrupt governor of Virginia who is the intended victim of an assassination plot, and he's estranged from his family. The story is about how he deals with these troubles and the lessons he learns.

A: What gives you a passion for this story and why are you the one who needs to tell it?

Three reasons.

1. A large number of people are leaving the military now and searching for new lives, so the subject matter is very timely. I happen to have known a number of retired military officers who have been in this same situation as my protagonist, and I'm able to draw upon their experiences for inspiration and material.

2. The setting is perfect for the story and is taken from my own home town in tidewater Virginia.

3. The theme of maintaining hope and a sense of gratitude in the face of adversity is a concept that I feel is essential to well being. I believe readers will think it interesting also and will identify with the main characters as they struggle with their trials.

A: What have you found to be your biggest challenges to writing a successful commercial novel?

My biggest challenge is to stay focused and resist the temptation to jump in and begin writing without first doing the necessary research and planning. Of course, the other big challenge is to continually ask the question, "Will this subject matter be commercially desirable, and am I developing it in such a way that it will keep the interest of readers?" It won't necessarily sell just because I love it.

A: Is there any particular facet of the Algonkian novel writing program that has helped you more than any other? If so, why?

The Algonkian program has forced me to more carefully consider the vital details of the novel writing process as a whole. The emphasis on backstory and the development of theme, scene creation in the context of the six act plot structure, and of course, the module on the antagonist. The course has also helped me to be more aware of marketability. For instance, initially I had my story starting in Iraq. I believe, however, that people are now tired of war (except for WWII which seems to have eternal reader interest), so I'm changing the setting of the first chapter from Iraq to Virginia. In subsequent chapters I'll go to Iraq to show the protagonist in his world of the Army, and then bring him back home to the States. Hopefully, now the reader (agents and publishers) won't say, "Oh, this is just another war story."

A: What bit of advice can you give to other aspiring authors just getting started?

My first bit of advice is to read and keep on reading. The second is to write as much as possible, and the third is to keep a positive attitude about your writing in the face of inevitable rejection from agents and publishers as well as from family and friends; the worst being that which comes from people who give us blank stares that shout, "who are you kidding," when we announce we are writers.



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