I would like to introduce to you my featured author of the month, John Gaspard. Author of “The Ambitious Card (An Eli Marks Mystery)“, which I have reviewed here: “The Ambitious Card (An Eli Marks Mystery)“! Check out my amazing interview with him!
John worked as a video producer for a multi-national company. He made low-budget features on the side. John’s blog, “Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts,” has been named “One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers” and “One of the 100 Best Blogs for Film and Theater Students.” And, as it says in his official bio, he lives in Minnesota and shares his home with his lovely wife, a few dogs, several cats and a handful of pet allergies.
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
John: I’ve been writing screenplays since my early teens, but didn’t turn to fiction/novel writing until a few years back. I finished my first novel, tried to find a publisher, found a bad one and was able to get the book back before it was published. I set that book aside and sat down and wrote “The Ambitious Card.”
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.
John: “The Ambitious Card” is a humorous mystery novel about a working magician, Eli Marks. He is recently divorced and has moved back into his apartment above his uncle’s magic shop in South Minneapolis. Eli gets pulled into the investigation of a series of murders when he publicly debunks a local psychic, who then turns up dead the next day.
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
John: I’ve always been a fan of light, comic mysteries and thought that a working magician might be a fun starting point for a series of mysteries.
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
John: It’s always the part that I’m just about to write …
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
John: The book mixes real and fictional locations with abandon. Eli’s experiences as a magician are based on research, but the characters, relationships (and of course the murders) are all fictional.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
John: Several years ago my brother turned me onto the work of mystery writer Lawrence Block and I devoured his Matthew Scudder series, along with his “Burglar” series and his “Keller” series. The Eli Marks mysteries owe a great debt to the tone that Block set in his “Burglar” books.
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
John: I run into speed bumps, but never anything that I’d call a block. I always know (generally) what is going to happen in each chapter before I sit down to write it, and I always know the ending before I start.
Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
John: The second book in the Eli Marks series, “The Bullet Catch,” will be coming out sometime in late 2014.
Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
John: Two things. First, follow Elmore’s Leonard’s rule: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” When I first read that, I thought he was being factitious, but it turns out that is really great advice.
Second, don’t give up. “The Ambitious Card” went through two different agents, both of them excellent. They were both well-connected and submitted the book to many, many publishers. And the book was rejected by all of them. After the first agent gave up on the book, I tried the second agent, who worked just as hard. And then she gave up on the book. But I kept looking, feeling that the book would eventually find a publisher and an audience.
I was reading a review of a book in “Mystery Scene” magazine and the tone of the book being reviewed felt like the tone of “The Ambitious Card” – a light, funny, contemporary mystery. So I tracked down the name of the publisher and submitted the book and three days later they called and said they wanted it.
So, never give up and keep trying to find a home for your book. And, if you’re writing a mystery, read “Mystery Scene” magazine. Just for luck.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
John: Keep buying and reading books from independent publishers!