We have another interview from the world of fiction writing today, and this time our special guest is sci-fi author John Coon, who some of you may have read about in last week's author spotlight.
PB: So, John, welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
JC: I'm an urban dwelling journalist who yearns to return to a place with more open spaces again. Right now, I'm based out of Salt Lake City, Utah as a sports journalist for the Associated Press and Athlon Sports. In this role, I mainly write about NBA basketball, college football, and college basketball. My writing mainly consists of game stories, previews, and features.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
JC: No single moment caused me to pursue that path. My desire to become an author evolved naturally over time. I've always had an active imagination and loved creating stories. When I was a little kid, I would daydream about being an actor and starring in my own movies. I came up with quite detailed plots and characters for those fictional movies and a few of those early ideas evolved into the foundation for novels and short stories when I entered high school.
PB: When did you first start writing?
JC: My first serious stab at writing came at 12 years old. My parents owned a manual typewriter and set it up on a table at the back of the kitchen. I had an older sister who had been writing some stories and I made up my mind I could write stories too. I went out to the kitchen and started typing up my stories on orange colored typing paper.
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
JC: My earliest stories were a series of adventure tales involving a litter of mischievous kittens. The kittens were based on family pets we had at the time. I didn't complete the project until about five years later. I still have a rough draft of those stories and would love to publish them someday if I can partner with the right illustrator.
PB: Tell us about Under a Fallen Sun.
JC: Wow. I am so excited for this book! This is my second novel after Pandora Reborn. Under a Fallen Sun is a reworking of a short story I wrote while attending the University of Utah. That story, which I originally called "Village of the Gargoyles," was about four friends who had to escape from a cursed town before sunrise or risk turning into monsters. The novel length version bears scant resemblance to the original story beyond character names and elements in a couple of scenes.
Under a Fallen Sun centers on four Louisiana college students who become trapped in an isolated Texas town after their car breaks down during a spring break road trip. It turns into a battle for survival against an extraterrestrial adversary who has laid siege to the town and done terrifying things to the surviving residents. Under a Fallen Sun is designed to be a gripping dark sci-fi thriller that I hope my fans will enjoy.
PB: What inspires you?
JC: I find inspiration from many sources. The settings for my novels are often influenced by the rural environment where I grew up or places I've lived in the past. My characters are a melting pot of personalities based on people I've interacted with over my 15 years as a journalist. I draw ideas for plots from urban legends, myths, folklore, historical events, and theology. When you throw it all together, it creates a nice reservoir of ideas to spin a story or two.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
JC: My ability to write at all is a blessing from God and I will always consider it one of my greatest achievements. When I was around a year old, my left hand was partially severed in an accident. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon was brought in to save my hand. He was able to reattach it, but I suffered some permanent nerve and tendon damage. I had limited dexterity in my left hand throughout my childhood and I struggled so much with typing that, at one point, my eighth grade computer science teacher told me that I better find a career where I didn't need to use a computer. Going from that point to being an accomplished journalist and author is an incredible journey.
PB: Other than sci-fi, what is your favourite fiction genre and why?
JC: I enjoy reading a good horror story. When it's done right, horror can explore real-world fears through the medium of ghosts, witches, and monsters. Just like sci-fi, you can shine a light on human nature and what it means to be human.
PB: What’s it like juggling your fiction writing with sports reporting?
JC: It can feel a bit hectic at times. I wrote the rough drafts for both Pandora Reborn and Under a Fallen Sun during the NBA season and had to work overtime to make time for it. It can be draining trying to muster up enough energy to write fiction after putting in 7 or 8 hours of writing and travel to cover a basketball game. That's where making an outline of each chapter and doing detailed character sketches is a lifesaver. It helps me stay on track and not abandon a project if I hit a creative wall.
PB: What are your long term ambitions career-wise?
JC: Eventually, I'd love to transition to being a full-time fiction author and see my stories be turned into movies and TV shows. I love creating stories and to have a chance to do that for a living would be a dream come true.
PB: What’s the next target for you?
JC: I'll likely work on some smaller stories following the release of Under a Fallen Sun. I have a few short stories I've completed that I'd like to publish. Each one connects to the fictional worlds I introduced in Pandora Reborn and Under a Fallen Sun in some fashion. Beyond that, I plan to rework and release a sci-fi novel I wrote at 18 years old that will be the first book in a six-book series. I'm also developing a pair of sequels to Pandora Reborn that I plan to publish in 2020 or 2021.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
JC: I have a really strong memory. I can recall all sorts of trivia with ease. When I was a child, for example, I watched each movie in the original Star Wars trilogy so many times that I eventually memorized the entire dialogue from each movie word for word. I still retain recall of most of it all these years later.
Once again John, thank you for talking to us today.
You can get updates on John's other forthcoming novels and stories at his website and author pages:
Until next time,
All the best!