Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TBR welcomes John Scanlan

TBR: Welcome to TBR, John. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
John: I am an eight year veteran of the Palm Beach Police Department in Palm Beach, Florida.  I serve on the Crisis Intervention Team for my department, which deals with individuals in crisis mainly through mental illness, but also through tragic circumstances.  I have two daughters, ages four and three, and a son on the way.  My wife, Jessica, was the only one who knew my secret of aspiring to be an author.  At least until my debut crime novel, Of Guilt and Innocence, was near publication in January 2013.

TBR: Tell us about OF GUILT AND INNOCENCE and where it's available.
John: My debut crime novel, Of Guilt and Innocence, is available for purchase at Amazon, among other places.  It’s a story about the search for a kidnapped Boca Raton, Florida girl.  As the investigation into her disappearance inexplicably becomes tangled with the hunt for a long dormant serial killer, detectives will have to hurriedly decipher clues as to if the two cases are truly connected before it’s too late.  A list of all the locations where it is available for purchase can be found on my website, www.johnfscanlan.weebly.com.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
When Jim and Dan made their way into the house, which seemed to be only seconds after the SWAT team had gone in, they observed a woman lying on the floor, facedown, with her hands to her sides and palms facing up. They walked farther into the home and saw a heavyset white male, matching the description given by the neighbor, also lying face down in the same fashion. Two members of the SWAT team remained in the downstairs of the two-story home with Jim and Dan and each had a gun trained on the man and woman. The remaining SWAT members checked the upstairs area of the home for Ashley or anyone else. After several minutes, the entire house was checked and there was no sign of Ashley. Jim leaned down over the man, who was still lying face down on the floor, but at this point had his hands behind his back in handcuffs.
“Where’s the girl?”
“What girl?” the man shouted back at Jim.
“Where’s the girl? I know she’s here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the man said to Jim as he sobbed.
“Everything clear outside? Can we get into the garage?” Jim bellowed to no one in particular, but got a nod from the SWAT commander in response. The majority of the group moved outside to the unattached garage slowly, ready for their last obstacle.
Jim got ready to pull open the garage door and the SWAT members and Dan raised their guns in preparation for what they may find inside. Jim swiftly pulled the door
up and it slid all the way open exposing the inside of the garage. The guns slowly lowered in unison. A stunned silence overcame the group.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
John: I’ve always been fascinated by how we form our opinions of people and how and why those opinions change over time.  I wanted to create a story with three separate sets of characters all linked to tragic events.  In doing this I wanted the reader to feel something for these characters right from the start.  And as the story progressed and more information on these characters came to light I wanted the reader to re-evaluate the hatred or sympathy they initially felt for these characters, even though the tragic events themselves were still exactly the same.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
John: This may be a cop out, but I think I’m a little bit of both.  Before I start a manuscript I always know exactly what I want to accomplish with it.  I know how it will start, a general flow, and how I want it to end.  But everything else comes to me as I go and I am constantly thinking of ways to change it or make it better, even if it means rewriting large chunks.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
John: I generally know where I want the story to go first, then develop characters to match the environment, theme, etc.  It is rare I base them on actual people I have met, but I have done that with a few.  If anything I will pull conversation style or content from real life situations or people, especially “cop talk”.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
John: “From a bronco ride to a ten foot tide, he just had to learn to roll.”  Not exactly a quote, it’s a line from Jimmy Buffett’s Cowboy in the Jungle.  As only Jimmy can, it reminds me life is all about adapting.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
John: That I could actually write a book, start to finish.  I’m a police officer, haven’t taken an English class in over ten years, and had never tried anything like this before.  When suddenly faced with an abundance of free alone time, I figured I’d give it a shot.  To my surprise, not only did I really enjoy it, but the writing just flowed and I was able to finish.

TBR: What's next for you?
John: I have my next manuscript finished for the most part, just tweaking it here or there.  It’s another crime novel about a man whose wife was murdered over twenty years ago.  But through modern advances in DNA testing and recanted witness testimony the person convicted of her murder is being released and declared wrongly convicted.  It details the struggle the husband goes through in trying to keep a stubborn grip on his closure.  As the cold case investigation into the original murder heats up and secrets are unearthed, it details just how far he will go to keep that closure and overlook the obvious so the pain of the loss of his wife doesn’t overcome him once again.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
John: The most challenging aspect of writing for me is GRAMMAR!  I’m a police officer.  We don’t use semi-colons in our reports.  We don’t change viewpoints.  The most challenging thing for me is not making my manuscripts sound like one big police report.  The most rewarding thing, I find, is when I come up with something truly unique.  After I write a great paragraph or chapter.  And I know it is going to catch the reader totally by surprise.  It always makes me excited.  Then, of course, it makes me anxious for someone to read it! 

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
John: My favorite book is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  I love how he makes Savannah the most interesting character, yet never draws you away from the crime part of the story.  I’m currently reading James Born’s Walking Money.  Jim is a fellow law enforcement officer and the book is about as realistic as you can get in the crime fiction category.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
John:  Anything you want to know about me, and probably some things you didn’t, can be found on my website, www.johnfscanlan.weebly.com.  I can also be found on Amazon.

TBR: Readers, John will give away a copy of Of Guilt and Innocence to one lucky commenter. He'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so he can contact you.

Thanks for visiting TBR, John. Best of luck to you.

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