Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting to know John Daniel

Today, we have author, John M. Daniel with us. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his novel, Behind the Redwood Door. He’s led an interesting life, as you’re about to discover.

Patricia: Where did you grow up, John? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
John: I grew up on a beautiful estate in the countryside outside Dallas, Texas. The place was owned by my Uncle Neil, a wealthy, unmarried businessman. When my father died, leaving my mother broke with four kids, Uncle Neil took us in. I suppose growing up there contributed to my desire to write, since I was so far out in the country that my closest friends were books. And living in that strange household gave me a lifetime’s worth of material to write about. 
My novel Elephant Lake is set on an estate modeled on the place where I grew up, and it’s largely about the relationship between my mother and my uncle. For more info on that novel, see . 
 The book’s available on Kindle.
Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels? 
John: I now live in Humboldt County, in far northern California, on the coast in Redwood Country. It’s a land of logging, fishing, and of course marijuana cultivation. It is the local of my newest published novel, Behind the Redwood Door, which is a murder mystery about, among other things, logging, fishing, and marijuana cultivation. It’s published by Oak Tree Press. For more information, see
Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
John: To be honest about this, my most recent novels have not yet found publishers. They were inspired by my experience working in a pacifist bookstore in the 1970s, and by the year 1963 and how that year slammed into three members of my family: my uncle, my mother, and myself. Perhaps in some future interview I’ll be able to show you cover shots of those books too! Meanwhile, the inspiration for Behind the Redwood Door is largely the glorious setting of California’s North Coast. I also wanted to give my pint-sized sleuth, Guy Mallon, another chance at bat. In this novel, which works as a standalone, Guy and his wife/partner Carol have retired from the publishing business, but Guy still can’t help getting into dangerous trouble!
Patricia: Did you plan to write a series before or after you wrote the first book? 
John: The first Guy Mallon mystery, The Poet’s Funeral, published by Poisoned Pen Press, was meant to be a standalone, my comic tribute to the publishing business as it was in 1990. The book is set at the American Bookseller’s Convention, which was in Las Vegas that year. I had no idea the series would go on for two more books, but 
Guy Mallon refused to shut up.
For more info on The Poet’s Funeral, see   
Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre.
John: That’s a hard one. If I may be allowed to stretch the meaning of “mystery genre,” I would throw out for discussion Elmore Leonard, who’s a master of quirky plots and crackling dialogue; Carl Hiaasen, who makes me laugh so hard keeps me turning pages; and Larry Karp, who writes so entertainingly about ragtime music, music boxes, medical history, and the human heart.
Patricia: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
John: I have a full-time job as a publisher and free-lance editor. Luckily I love what I do for a living.
Patricia: Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go?
John: My wife, Susan, and I go to Las Vegas every Christmas, not to gamble, but to spend time with family, including granddaughter Caroline. We recently went to San Jose, California to spend time with grandchildren Mimi, Nellie, and William; and just this past weekend we spent time in Mendocino with grandchildren Justin and Meili (the other one, Hannah, was in Chile at the time). Next week we’re off to Port Orford, Oregon, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. In the past, Susan and I have had beautiful vacations in the Yucatan and on the island of Rarotonga.
Patricia: How would you describe yourself personality wise?
John: Borderline bipolar between frantic and mellow.
Patricia: What’s your favorite color? Why?
John: The brown of Susan’s eyes and the silver in Susan’s hair, because they’re the first things I see every morning, and the last things I see every night when we turn off the light.
Patricia: How would you finish this sentence? If I won a million dollars, I would . . .
John: spend a year closing down the publishing business so Susan could spend more time in her garden and I could spend more time with my writing.

Patricia, thank you so much for letting me spend some time with you. By answering these questions I learned some things about myself!
John, it was my pleasure. I’d like to add one more thing. I think you should add “romantic” to your list of personality traits. “The brown of Susan’s eyes and the silver in Susan’s hair”? If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is. :)