Friday, March 22, 2013

MEET JOHN ROBINSON


John Robinson has been married thirty-nine years to the finest woman on the planet, his wife Barb. The father of two grown sons and grandfather of two, he’s also the retired owner of a successful financial planning firm. John hopes to go into full-time writing someday; as the author of the popular Joe Box suspense series, he’s well on his way. He’s made some good friends in the publishing world, including writers Karen Ball, Brandilyn Collins, Alton Gansky, and Christy-award winner James Scott Bell, and all of them greatly—and graciously—shared their talents in helping John hone his craft. In addition to his writing John is a much in demand speaker and teacher, having taught fiction tracks at the Glorieta Christian Writers conference just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.
 
The first title in his Joe Box series, Until the Last Dog Dies, was published by RiverOak Publishing in a three-book deal, which also included the hard-hitting When Skylarks Fall and To Skin a Cat. All three works received outstanding reviews, and John stands ready to continue to deliver more nail-biting, heart-stopping suspense.
 
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ROBINSON
 
S.S: How long have you been writing?

I’ve always liked to write, even from my early teen years, and when I was in college I was student affairs editor for the school paper. I didn’t start writing with the goal of being published, though, until maybe a dozen years ago. It was a lot harder than I’d thought it would be.

S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?

No, but I wish I could write full time! For my day job I’m Director of Business for a large firm that does medical contracting for the military, here and overseas. Sometimes that means travel, and last year they sent me on a ten-day junket to Saudi Arabia. There I met with government officials, including several sheiks, and the surgeon general of the Saudi army; very interesting!

S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?

I’ll never forget it. Because of its theme and unconventional main character, my first Joe Box novel, Until the Last Dog Dies was a booger to get published. My agent shopped it tirelessly, but kept coming to me back with stuff like “they love your writing, John, but Joe scares them to death; he’s too rough, and they’re afraid women won’t buy it.” To which I responded, “jeeze Louise, it’s not written for women!” Months passed, and my agent finally said they’ve done all they could, but can’t place it with anybody. That was in December of 2002. Flash forward to July of 2003. The CBA trade show was in Orlando that that year, and my agent was attending. As the story was told to me, the head buyer of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains was speaking with one of the marketing directors for Cook Communications, which owns RiverOak Publishing. They were talking about this and that, when the buyer said in an off-hand way, “I heard you’ve bought a novel featuring a Christian private investigator.” The Cook guy said no, he’d heard wrong, they took a pass on it. To which the buyer came back, “that’s funny; we could probably move a lot of units of that.” The Cook guy took that info to his people, and they told him, “how about that, see if it’s still available.” The Cook guy found my agent and asked if Until the Last Dog Dies was still on the table. Stunned, my agent said yes, and they proceeded to verbally cut the deal on the floor of the CBA. True story!

S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 

My wife, without question. Beyond that, I’ve been blessed to get to know—and be cheered on by—such stellar writers as you, Nancy, James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, Cec Murphey, Robert Liparulo, Terri Blackstock, Eric Wiggin, Jeff Gerke, Deb Raney, Karen Ball, Gayle Roper … wow, I know I’m missing some.

S.S:  Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?

Good question. I’ve always liked edge-of-your-seat movies, so when I started writing, the transition seemed normal. That said, I do have one SF novel out, The Radiance. People who’ve read it have been asking for a sequel, and that may happen one day.

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

In varying degrees, my faith is interwoven in everything I write. It’s more direct in my Joe Box novels, but it’s also found in the SF work I mentioned above, and that was published by secular house. It’s probably the most plain in Heading Home, which is now up on Kindle.

S.S: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?

Man, that’s tough. It’s almost like saying if I couldn’t breath, what would be a good alternative. In all seriousness, though, if I couldn’t write, I’d like to be an actor (you in the back there, stop laughing!).

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.
 
 
Ah, that would be Heading Home. How it came about sounds incredible, but I assure you it’s true. It was New Years Day, 1999, and I was watching one of the bowl games on TV when suddenly I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like watching a movie. During that I was unaware of the passing of time. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of Heading Home completely lined up in my head; it was then just a matter of writing it down and editing it. Here’s the plot: the Bible makes it clear no one knows the day or the hour of Christ's return. But it doesn't say we won't know the month. Or the week. When every Christian simultaneously receives a message that Christ will return sometime in the next seven days, the world is thrown into stark panic. Two old friends, hardened combat veterans from the closing days of the Vietnam War, set out on a suspenseful quest to redeem that time. What they can't know is they and their entire church have been targeted for satanic annihilation.

S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Many, many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I heard a radio preacher say something startling. He said that while the Bible makes it clear no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return, it doesn’t say we won’t know the month … or the week. What would you do, he said, if you knew, beyond doubt, Jesus was coming to take His people home sometime in the next one hundred and sixty-eight hours? How would you live those hours? How would it impact your witness to the lost? That percolated in my brain for the next thirty years, and finally it came to birth in Heading Home.

S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?

That time, as we’ve known it, is over; that’s plain to anyone with eyes. Things are winding up here on planet Earth at a blistering pace. We have to redeem that remaining time, because we’re not promised our next breath.

S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I’d say it would have to be a tossup between Nick Castle and CT Barnes. Although utterly different in background, temperament, and even skin color, their being brothers in Christ—as well as having served in combat together—gives them a grittiness and singleness of purpose.

S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?

That’s easy, the villain Sangre. This would-be Satanist thinks he’s the one causing so much grief throughout the book, while being totally unaware the devil is his real puppet master. I got to go very deeply into this man’s twisted psyche, and while it didn’t make me root for him, it did help me understand him. And in a way, pity him.

S.S: What are you working on now?

My agent is shopping the very first of my new suspense series to the general market. It’s called Pitfall, and concerns a former Army Ranger named Cameron Bane, and who exacts a chilling revenge against the shadowy government agents whose disastrous intelligence error resulted in the loss of his entire command in Iraq. Using their hush money against them, he now takes on hopeless tasks for helpless people, engaging in rough adventures that just skirt the edge of the law. For free.

S.S: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years?

Five years. Writing, teaching, and speaking full time. Ten years, ditto.

S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.   

Lived in Montana, and taking a trip into out space; that last one may to wait until the rapture.

S.S:  What is the silliest thing you have ever done?

Back in college, when my cousin and I would drop sodden rolls of toilet paper on the heads of drunks as they’d come up the walk to our dorm. I guess I should mention we lived on the twentieth floor, and by the time those rolls would hit, they were moving along at a real clip. The effect was … satisfying.

S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

Saying goodbye to our baby daughter, Sarah. She’s been in heaven for quite a few years now, and has probably been driving Saint Peter to distraction.

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?

My website is www.johnrobinsonbooks.com.
 
You can find my books on Amazon:
 
 My three Joe Box novels: Until the Last Dog Dies, When Skylarks Fall, and To Skin a Cat
 
Then there's The Radiance, and finally, Heading Home.

S.S.: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?  

My favorite movie is Open Range, my favorite musical is Les Miserables, my favorite band is Yes, my favorite color is blue, and my favorite meal is country ham, greens beans with fatback, cathead biscuits with clover honey, spoonbread, chocolate pie, and good, but not great, coffee. Due to a brain injury when I was nine I’m dyslexic, and can only type with my thumbs and index fingers. I also have syndactyly, giving me webbed toes.

Now, aren’t you glad you’ve read this far? I know I am!

John is giving away a copy of his book, UNTIL THE LAST DOG DIES. Leave a comment, along with your contact information, and Monday, he'll pick a winner!

 

15 comments:

  1. John, So good to get to know you even better (although I really didn't need to know about the syndactyly--does it make you a better swimmer?)
    I recently read Until The Last Dog Dies and thought to myself, "Why didn't this guy get published earlier?" Glad you did, and that there are more to come.
    Thanks, Nancy, for this fascinating look at a pretty fascinating guy.

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  2. Cant wait to check out this Joe Box character!!! These titles are really creative;) plus HEADING HOME sounds very interesting, the scenario has peaked my interest greatly, gonna put it on my TBR for sure;)
    Great interview!!!

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  3. Thanks for the kind comments, folks. Do my webbed toes make me a better swimmer, Richard? No, but I do have to stay away from swamps when it's frog-gigging season!

    I'm glad you like the Joe Box titles, Jojo. I figured that since Joe's an animal lover (his constant companion is his old cat, Noodles, who he rescued from a fire years earlier), I thought I'd put an animal in each title. And I really hope you like Heading Home!

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  4. Love the Joe Boxer books and I'm a woman! :)
    Enjoyed the interview.

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  5. Very glad to learn about you, John. I'm looking forward to reading your work.
    Thanks for the interview, Nancy.

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  6. Thanks for the interview! I can't wait to read one of your books. I am sure both myself and my husband will enjoy your writings.
    pjeanemmons@yahoo.com

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  7. Thank you so much, Caroline, Larry, and the Woman of Mystery! *G* I hope you like my books.

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  8. would love to win
    likesmusic2@consolidated.net

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  9. Great post. The book sounds great. Thank you for sharing. Blessings, Susan Fryman susanngarrylee@yahoo.com

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  10. Thank you, John, for visiting our blog. I love your premise for your newest book.

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  11. Thanks so much for the kind words, folks!

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  12. Would love to read your books. They sound fascinating. RHONDA
    nashhall@aol.com

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  13. Thanks for the interview Nancy! Nice to get to know John. His books definitely sound like they sre right up my alley and I'm looking forward to reading them. Eould love to win a copy of Until The Last Dog Dies to get me started as the husband just retired and cut my book budget :-(.
    ngspitznagle@gmail.com

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  14. Good to meet you John. We have some Robinson's in our family. Enjoyed your interview. I think you are right about the end times. But then I have heard that said people have thought that in years past. But the time is already that Christians are starting to be persecuted and will only get worse I'm afraid.
    I have a niece who has the web between 2 toes on both feet, and now she has a grandson with the same. But the dyslexia might be lots harder to deal with. But you seem to have done well with GOD's help. Keep up the good work.I would love to own your book. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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