Brain to Books Blog Tour John W. Howell
- Photo by Tim Burdick
Author: John W. Howell
My genre(s): Fiction Thriller
My book title: My GRL from the John Cannon Trilogy
John was born in Detroit Michigan but has lived on all coasts of the United States as well as Chicago and Indiana. John graduated with a Social Science degree from Michigan State University and after working for a large consumer products company he went back to school to obtain his MBA from Notre Dame. After twenty-five years in the consumer products industry, John then worked as a consultant and then finally in the telecommunications industry for fifteen years. John finally escaped organized commerce to pursue writing full-time.
John is married and lives by the Gulf of Mexico in South Texas with his wife Molly and loving rescue pets.
Molly and John are active in Austin Boxer Rescue where the emphasis is on saving individual Boxer dogs from euthanasia in community shelters and finding suitable forever homes.
John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly-purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting thriller and terrific fun January 25, 2014, Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
My GRL is a terrific thriller – exciting, with an engaging and very likeable protagonist (who has a wonderful dry, self-deprecating humor that had me laughing out loud at times!), and full of twists and turns that keep you guessing and turning the pages to see what happens next. Throughout the action builds very well and is fast paced when needed and very believable. Every aspect is described so well you feel almost like you are watching a movie, and indeed I believe this would translate very well to that sort of medium and be very successful in that form too.
The story commences with a lawyer going on a sabbatical, buying a boat and starting to enjoy a new way of life. Little does he know what these innocent and worthy pursuits are about to bring into his life! I won’t give spoilers because a great deal of the pleasure of this book is having the story unfold, but suffice to say the hero finds himself with far more than he bargained for!
The author John W Howell has constructed his thriller very cleverly and created a truly pleasurable reading experience. I found myself suspecting just about everyone of something and being right only about half the time, which is probably in itself one of the marks of a very good thriller.
I do note there is a vague hint at the end of a possible sequel – if, so I say bring it on! I’d love to read the next stage of this story! But if that’s just wishful thinking on my part I certainly look forward to any other work from this engaging and talented thriller author.
Read the Excerpt
Gerry and I finish our beers at the Sandbar and make a move to cross the crowds toward the front door. Before the karaoke noise starts, we agree to go to another place for some pizza. She directs something to me which I can’t understand, so I hold my hand to my ear and try hard to hear her. She looks a little upset. I signal we should wait until we get outside to talk.
She nods and I take the lead, reach back, grab her hand, and act like a bulldozer while I separate the crowd as we pass through. It becomes harder since everyone has begun to pay attention to the drunken girl singing what sounds a little like a slurred Avril Lavigne song to the karaoke machine on the stage up front.
We make it to the door and go out into the humid night. I drop Gerry’s hand and notice there are two guys walking toward us. I tell her to stay close and figure the guys will eventually make way and go into the bar. I am about to ask her what she was trying to get me to understand in the bar when I feel a rush of air behind me and hear what sounds like someone thumping a watermelon. That was the last thing on my mind when the lights of the world go out.
Buy the Book
Interview with John. W. Howell
Angela B. Chrysler: Tell us a little about yourself (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you are not writing?
John. W. Howell: I have always wanted to write and tried doing it while working full time. I found that neither the work nor the writing was quality output when done in the same time frame, so I waited until I retired to devote myself to wring full-time. I started writing as a kid and did it for the enjoyment. When I’m not writing, I usually spend time on the beach with our two Boxers.
ABC: Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (If any?) List other titles if applicable
John. W. Howell: My first book which is titled Next Door is in manuscript form and works to hold the laundry room door open. I have not published it since during my first edit I realized just how bad it was. My GRL is my second book, and I have since written three more. Two are the final books in the John Cannon Trilogy, and the forth is a different story and being queried.
ABC: What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?
John. W. Howell: I most enjoy Thriller Fiction since there is always the challenge of crafting a story that is not easy for the reader to guess the twists before they happen. My GRL is about an ordinary guy who gets caught up in a terrorist plot to blow up a symbol of America’s greatness. He is not a superhero so he must use his intellect and whatever is at hand in order to thwart the plot.
ABC: What inspired you to write this book?
John. W. Howell: My sister and I visited the Aircraft Carrier Lexington since our dad served on her as a naval aviator during WWII. I was standing on the massive flight deck, and it struck me that if anyone wanted to destroy this symbol of America’s military strength they could do so with no resistance. Later I developed a plan to destroy the Lexington and then a plan to prevent it. The story just flowed from there although in the book the Lexington is not the target.
ABC: How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
John. W. Howell: The title MyGRL came from the name John J. Cannon; the protagonist gave this boat. The boat played an integral part in the story, and the name reflects John’s affection for her. The second book is titled His Revenge, which leaves the reader guessing if John gets revenge on the terrorist boss or is it the other way around. The final book is titled Our Justice, which leads us to believe all ends well.
ABC: Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
John. W. Howell: The cover was designed by Martin Sisters Publishing. The image symbolizes the final scene of the action, and although it appears calm, it is a view that John sees as he is slipping away.
ABC: If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
John. W. Howell:
John Cannon – Bradley Cooper
Ned Tranes – Sam Elliot
Jason Savard – Gerard Butler
Ralph Winter – Matthew McConaughey
Matt Jacobs – Christian Bale
Sarah Barsonne – Kate Beckinsale
Choices from the serious list
ABC: When did you consider yourself a writer?
John. W. Howell: The day I opened my first case of books I considered myself a writer. I have to say the day I got my first royalty check enhanced that view.
ABC: What does your writing process look like?
John. W. Howell: When I’m working on a novel I, set a daily word count goal. The count that is comfortable is 1000 words. My routine is to accomplish the goal first and then do other writing or jobs around the house. This gets me to about 90,000 words in three months. I use a laptop computer and operate from a limited outline of the story. The characters and story develop while I am writing although I have written the last three lines of the book before starting the first chapter as an ending spot.
ABC: What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
John. W. Howell: When I’m asked, I always tell aspiring authors not to show their work to others until it’s finished. The reason is too often I have seen writers showing pieces of a book to someone only to get discouraged when the someone has some critical comments. This leads to a self-confidence problem that might not be solvable. Once a work is finished there is plenty of time to show it around and get all the advice in the world. At least the advice won’t stop the book from getting written. Don’t stop writing for any reason is another piece of advice I like to give since procrastination is so much easier than the hard work of writing.
ABC: Do you read reviews? Do you respond to them good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
John. W. Howell: I always read reviews. I consider understanding what the reader thinks of my work is a part of my job. I hope everyone enjoys what I write but know that does not always happen. I don’t respond to reviews as I think the person wanted to leave the review without having to worry about the author making comments. I respect the reviewer’s privacy in this manner. My advice on dealing with bad reviews is simple. If the bad review is well thought out and has some merit, learn from it. If the review is nasty and obviously meant to deride the author, then it should be ignored. In no case should an author engage in any response.
ABC: What are your current projects?
John. W. Howell: My publisher has waived their first right of refusal rights on the sequel to My GRL,which is titled His Revenge. I am currently working to self-publish the work so I have the book out for a beta read and once done then it will be professionally edited I expect publication before the end of the third quarter. The final book in the series Our Justice is complete and waiting a beta read and professional edit. I think the publication of Our Justice will be in April of 2016. I also have a general fiction novel completed titled Circumstances of Childhood. It is the story of a successful athlete and business person who gets sideways with the SEC and Justice Department. He ultimately finds out his firm has been compromised by a thief and yet must stand trial as if he committed the crime. This book is currently in the query process and is being reviewed by an agent.
ABC: What do you do (when not writing) to support yourself?
John. W. Howell: As I mentioned, I am retired, and I have my pension and investments to keep me in the necessities. For support, I generally turn to a well-made margarita or an IPA since I very seldom am not writing.
ABC: Which of your books was the most fun to write and why?
John. W. Howell: Circumstances of Childhood was the most fun for me. I’m not sure if it is because I think I know more now than I did when I started the first or if I am less concerned about making mistakes. I do know that I wrote this book exactly as I wanted to write it. The characters were developed on my terms, and the story flowed more from the character development than story construction. The freedom I experience was such that I almost don’t really care if it ever gets published. Of course, it will but if not it was like taking a test drive in a Lamborghini. A real pleasure that not being able to afford the car will take away.
ABC: Here are some zanier and off-beat questions. What do you wear while you are writing?
John. W. Howell: Since I live on the Gulf of Mexico, I’m usually in a T-shirt and board shorts. I very seldom have shoes on my feet unless I need to go down to the beach. I also listen to music while I write and find IHeart radio to be a real pleasure since I don’t have to fool with playlists or CDs
ABC: Do you have a pet or pets?
John. W. Howell: We have two feral cats and two Boxer dogs. The cats were found fifteen years ago out in the wild and were brought into our house when they were four weeks old. They don’t know they are feral and are as kind as they can be. One Boxer was rescued from the streets of San Antonio, and the other is from a litter in Port Aransas Texas. All four get along as if they were raised together. My wife and I do realize we are outnumbered.
ABC: What is your favorite snack food?
John. W. Howell: I’m afraid I am addicted to potato chips. I just love them in almost any form. My favorites are Cape Cod, and I am embarrassed to say I visited the plant when I lived back east. I could hardly wait for the free bag they give you at the end of the tour. I like my chips plain but can go with French onion dip once and a while.
ABC: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
John. W. Howell:My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut and what really strikes me is his ability to blend humor and a sense of history into every story. He was able to capture the headlines of the day and turn a piece of fiction that was amazingly plausible in its creation. I was particularly taken with Jailbird, which had the Watergate break-in as a backstory. The main character went from being in prison for getting caught with a bunch of Watergate-related evidence to heading up a worldwide company that owned everything. The story is well crafted and to me at least represents some of Kurt’s finest work.
ABC: What are you reading now?
John. W. Howell: I am reading a fantasy book by Charles Yallowitz titled The Family of the Tri Rune. It is the fourth book in the series and although I’m not a fantasy fan I am totally enjoying each of his books. He writes a very plausible story that is well thought out and detailed. After the fourth book, I’m beginning to realize the series has a sophisticated continuity about it, and I am feeling more comfortable with understanding some of the conventions that come with the Fantasy Genre.
Angela: We are pleased to have with us John J. Cannon the leading character in the John J. Cannon Trilogy. I hope you are comfortable John. I will be asking you a few questions and want to thank you for being here.
John: My pleasure Angela. After what I have been through being with you is like a vacation.
Angela: I’m sure we’ll hear more about that but go ahead and tell the audience about yourself.
John: I’m a litigation attorney working for a law firm in San Francisco. About six months ago I decided to take some time off, so I asked for a leave from the firm. Up to then I’ve been working straight for the last ten years and haven’t taken any time for myself. In fact, I was quite surprised at how much money I had in the bank, and so I convinced myself to spend some of it on a beautiful boat. You see I have always wanted to be a charter captain and figured now was the time.
Angela: Tell us where and when and were you born.
John: I was born in 1977 in a small town in Indiana. The town is named Nashville and is in the heart of the tourist area. My parents still live there.
Angela: How would you describe yourself?
John: I think I would describe myself as a normal perso0n. I am a bit driven though and from the time I left high school and until this year I have kept a pretty stiff pace. There was college, Law school, and then the firm.
Angela: Tell us about where you grew up.
John: My hometown is small and during the summer it is packed with tourists. It is a very quaint town, and people come from all around to shop in the stores and look at the wonderful scenery. I worked in a few of the stores while in high school and during the summer in college. My friends, I have known since kindergarten, and most still live in town. We used to do all the normal stuff. We played football and baseball and when old enough we would hang out at the Dairy Queen. When I went away to college, I pretty much lost contact with them. I had hoped to go to our ten-year reunion but was busy with a case
Angela: Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not working on a law case?
John: Up to six months ago I really didn’t do anything but work on law cases. When I bought my boat which I named My GRL I had every intention of staying in the small fishing village where I took up temporary housing for a year to get my captains license. I really didn’t know if I was ever going back to the law.
Angela: Are you serious with anyone?
John: Yes I have a special person who I have found. Her name is Stephanie Savard and in addition to being a terrific partner she is a combat pilot in the Air Force
Angela: Tell us about your worst fear.
John: Right now my worst fear is that the leader of a group of terrorists by the name of Matt Jacobs will elude being brought to justice. If not incarcerated he will carry out his plan to exact revenge on America. He holds America accountable for the injustices perpetrated on Palestine by the Western World for the last five hundred years. He is a dangerous man and a billionaire to boot. I hope he is reading this interview since I have sworn to help the authorities bring him to justice.
Angela: Wow, John. I had no idea you were involved with such dangerous people. I hope that all will be resolved, and you will be able to go for that charter license.
John: Thank you again for having me and I share your hope for normalcy