Today we welcome John House.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
John House: I’m still active in family medicine. This year marked my 50th year. I practice in a rural community which gives me adequate time with my patients. My wife, Pam, and I live in Brunswick, Georgia with our four cats. Our children are grown and have families of their own. We are both avid readers and we spend our off time resting quietly at home. Pam helps me with research, which gives me more time to write.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message?
So Shall You Reap: The message is that drugs and sports don’t mix. I served as team physician for ten years for my hometown high school team. Thankfully, it was a time before drugs became so prevalent. The book intertwines the lives of a sports hero, his fiancé, and a drug cartel.
Choices: We all have choices in life and those choices determine the type life we lead and the consequences. Choices is about an ER physician caught up in a botched robbery at a convenience store resulting in a hostage situation. The physician is faced with a decision: remain quiet and not risk his life after all the years of training or do something to save others in the store at risk of his own life.
Trail of Deceit: The message is we are stronger than we sometimes believe. When faced with situations beyond our control, we search for and find the inner strength to help us prevail. Four college students on fall break decide to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. Two men and two women start out and only one of them knows they are being stalked by a psychopath. Decisions made by each individual lead to different circumstances — capture, escape, pain, and death.
Rancor: Hatred can lead to blind obsession, and when the obsession consumes a life, it destroys all other emotions — all except love, which overcomes. A young boy experiences the loss of his innocent family to violence in a town where they are viewed as outsiders. His path in life leads him through multiple foster homes, a juvenile detention center where he experiences physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Finally, he finds a home in the U.S. Army, which provides stability and the skills he needs. In Vietnam, he finds the friendship he has always sought, only to lose it to more violence. After leaving the army, he is ready to carry out his plans to destroy the town that robbed him of his family. Only one thing stands between him and the fulfillment of his lifelong dream… the unexpected love of a woman.
Uncommon Bond: Don’t lump all people in one basket, no matter what race or ethnic origin. A flight surgeon on a routine trip by helicopter to one of his assigned fire bases in Vietnam is taken captive when his helicopter is shot down. His life becomes one level of hell after another until he is befriended by his enemy, an North Vietnamese Army (NVA) surgeon in a makeshift hospital in a tunnel. Though kept alive by his new friend, he faces a different enemy — his conscience and his sworn oath to his country.
All my works are fiction.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
John House: Yes, I have three other works in progress.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
John House: The most difficult book to write was Rancor. The section about Vietnam was hard to write because my memories were too fresh. I shelved that manuscript for a number of years and completely revised it only two years ago at the insistence of my wife.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
John House: A lot of my work comes from personal memories and notes written long ago. I’ve traveled a lot in my life and have first-hand knowledge of many locations. For subjects unfamiliar to me, I use the internet. My wife does research for me as well. One of my works now takes place in San Francisco. Pam and I have visited the city several times and will probably do so again before I finish the book. I want descriptions of locations in my book to be as accurate as possible.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
John House: I read almost every genre. In my youth, my favorite author was Alistair MacLean. I enjoyed the pace of his novels. In most recent years I’ve enjoyed Lee Childs, David L. Robbins, Stuart Woods, Charles Martin, and Buzz Bernard. Those familiar with these authors recognize that each have their own particular subject matter and style of writing.
I’m most inspired by David L. Robbins. I enjoy historical fiction and especially the accuracy of his descriptions. I’ve attended his teaching seminars at writer conferences and he has taught me to write lean.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
John House: No one particularly encouraged me to write, but John Carrington, who was a secretary in the House of Representatives and lived next door in my hometown when Congress wasn’t in session, took me under his wing when I was about ten and introduced me to his vast library in his home. He encouraged me to read and gave me access to his library, even when he wasn’t at home. From my reading habit came the desire to write. First, I wrote poetry in high school; later, short stories in college and medical school; then moved on to novels in my adult years.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
John House: My greatest strength is the development of the characters. I want the reader to feel a part of the character and care about his failings and his triumphs. I do not outline my stories but let the characters take the story wherever it may go. By the time I complete a manuscript, those characters are in my mind all the time.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
John House: I have two loves outside of my wife and family; the practice of medicine and writing. To do one, I have to steal time from the other. When I’m creating a story, I can write almost anywhere. I create scenes as I drive back and forth from my clinic. I type brief notes in between patients and at lunch. Once the manuscript is ready for revision, I lock myself away in my study in the evenings and on weekends and I’ll work until I’m too tired to see the pages. I do some form of writing every day, even if just on note cards.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
John House: All writers hope to see their works on the New York Best Sellers List, and I’m no different. Four of my works have been published with modest success. The fifth novel will be released later this year and I have hope this will be my breakout novel. Whether I make the List or not, I will continue writing and become known as a successful regional writer for the southeastern United States.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Never give up.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
I loved your characters, even the antagonists.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
John House: This excerpt is taken from my most recent novel, Uncommon Bond. The protagonist, a flight surgeon with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, has escaped from his Viet Cong capturers and is in dense jungle attempting to reach any American fire base or attract the attention of helicopters:
After falling twice, the second time re-injuring his shoulder, it became imperative he stop for the night; certain, it would be his last. Near the end of his reserves, his body refused to go on. Physically, he had never been a stud. Mentally, he thought he could defeat anything. Unfortunately, the physical side won his inner argument. If this proved to be his last night, then at least it would be more comfortable than the others. With his rapidly depleting energy, he ripped large leaves from nearby plants, stacking them until he could no longer feel the hard ground. He lay on his back staring at the dim outline of tree limbs higher up. He imagined himself climbing to the tops of the trees, signaling aircraft and swinging from the trees directly into the protection of the aircraft cabin.
His fantasy became so realistic he could hear aircraft. He could hear aircraft! The familiar whop-whop-whop of helicopter blades resounded through the trees, coming closer each minute and then flew directly overhead. More than one, maybe five or even ten. Another insertion? Thank God, they are still searching for me.
He got to his feet and thrashed through the brush, driving his weakened body to the maximum. Attempting to follow the sound, he became confused by echoes in the trees. Ahead, the cluster of trees thinned out and he saw the mechanical birds against the background of the sky. Now every step brought him nearer to the edge of the jungle where the tree line blended with the grassy plain. The chopper pilots could see him if he found a clearing; the grass ten to twelve feet tall in some places. He moved faster than he thought possible. Where did the sudden energy come from?
The sound of the blades disappeared. Ahead the lighter shade of the grassy plain entered his field of vision again, maybe fifty yards away. Hell, that’s only half the length of a football field. He could do that. He could make that on his belly if necessary. He flailed at the vegetation, tearing open a path like a runaway tank.
An opening appeared between the trees not more than ten yards away. His legs drove him forward like a running back nearing the goal line. He would not be denied. Several helicopters, high in the air, apparently had discharged their loads and were flying in the opposite direction. Three additional Hueys dropped lower to the ground but only briefly, and now clawed for altitude. Please no, dear God. Please don’t let them leave.
His shattered thoughts skyrocketed again when he heard the whining sound of a small aircraft; a LOH, the OH-6 Cayuse, circling back, skimming the tops of the trees. Had the pilot seen him? No, not possible flying over the trees. The small bird climbed higher when it left the forest. Maybe something else caught the pilot’s attention. No matter. Hanson pushed harder. Got to reach a clearing.
Motion flashed in the corner of his right eye. He jerked his head toward the movement, startled by the sight of figures in black shirts and short pants running almost parallel to him. A deep growl escaped his chest and he cut left along the border between the trees and the beginnings of the grassy plain. Maybe the VC hadn’t seen him. Maybe they planned to ambush the LOH.
The Hueys were almost out of sight. Why is the LOH pilot remaining in the area alone? No matter. Somehow, he had to attract his attention. He broke for the opening between the trees. He was almost into the grass. I’m going to make it!
A quick glance to his right. His heart pounded with elation. The distance between him and the VC increased. He switched his direction more to the left, running parallel to the tree line. He had to get further away from his pursuers to give the pilot of the LOH time to swoop down and pick him up. The grass appeared shorter and he burst from the tree line into the waves of reeds. The LOH turned in the opposite direction, gaining elevation as it departed the area. No! Come back you bastard!
His breath came in gasps. His heart pounded against his chest and the ground moved up and down, the entire scene becoming shapeless. Zigzagging, he pushed with all his dwindling strength to get closer to the rapidly exiting helicopter. Just as his brain said, Give up! the LOH shot straight up and did a one-eighty degree turn.
Okay. He sees me.
His elation vanished along with the image of his freedom bird when a dark shape slammed his body from the side, plowing his face into the dirt at the edge of a small clearing. Hands grabbed his arms and legs and pulled him through the grass toward the trees.
Book ‘Em: Links to John House’s books:
Loiacono Literary Agency www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com/authors/john-house-md/ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all online book sites, For Choices and So Shall You Reap: Thomas Max Publishing www.ThomasMaxPublishing.com, For Rancor and Uncommon Bond: Argus Publishing www.a-argusbooks.com/ For Trail of Deceit: Limitless Publishing www.limitlesspublishing.net