Today I have John A. Heldt visiting The Life and Lies! John is the author of The Mine, a newly-released novel with "a little something for everyone."
Please tell us about your latest book.
My debut novel, The Mine, has something for everyone: humor, history, adventure, romance, science fiction, and serious themes. It is the story of Joel Smith, a handsome, charismatic, cavalier college senior who road trips to Yellowstone in May 2000, enters an abandoned mine on a lark, and emerges from that mine in May 1941. With little but his wits to guide his way, he returns to his hometown of Seattle and starts a new life within a tight circle of friends that includes his progressive 21-year-old grandmother and a beautiful, recently-engaged honors student named Grace Vandenberg. Joel possesses encyclopedic knowledge of the past and struggles with how to apply it. He knows Pearl Harbor will affect his friends in tragic, irrevocable ways. But he knows he is an interloper in another time and vows to limit his impact on the fate of others, a goal that becomes problematic when he falls in love with Grace. The Mine is a book that entertains, but it is also one that prompts readers to think and ask the big questions.
How did you come up with the title?
I don't remember when or how the title came to me. I simply had it in my head from the start and stuck with it. One of the things I like about John Grisham is that he uses short, simple titles to represent complex works. I wanted the same for my first novel. The Mine is the tie that binds the first half of the book to the second and the past to the present. I thought that was particularly important for a time travel story. I never considered anything else.
What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?
I have been positively influenced by a number of contemporary authors, including Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, Nicholas Sparks, Ken Follett, James Patterson, and Stephen King, and classic authors like Ernest Hemingway.
What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?
I like knowing that others enjoy my work. It's one thing to entertain friends and relatives. It's another to write a novel that appeals to critical readers around the world. The hardest part is the work involved in marketing a book. The time and effort involved in bringing a novel to the attention of others is mind-boggling.
Do you have any other books planned in the future?
I recently finished a second novel about a middle-aged widow who travels back to the time and place of her senior year in high school. She meets and befriends her younger self and has the opportunity to make life changes and influence the fates of others. I plan to publish The Journey this fall.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
I have been asked this question many times and have always had a hard time narrowing it down to one. Joel is the obvious the choice. He is the heart and soul of The Mine. He's the protagonist and undoubtedly the most interesting character. He undergoes profound changes in the book. A lot of readers like Ginny and Tom. But if I had to pick one it would be Grace. She was by far 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. The only characters I don't like are Adam and the hoodlums who confront Joel on the street.
What are your ten most favorite things?
My family, Mexican food, microbrewed beer, fishing, football, mountains, Norman Rockwell illustrations, Pixar movies, the Rolling Stones, and National Geographic magazine.
Do you have any pets?
Two cats, one dog. Dogs rock.
What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?
I loved English and social studies and hated math.
What book are you reading right now?
Fifty Shades of Grey. I am not a fan of erotica but I had to see what the fuss was about.
I was a triple major in college: journalism, history, and political science. I also have a Masters degree in library science.