Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meet John A. A. Logan, Author of Psychological Thrillers

      We're hanging out with John A.A. Logan this week near Loch Ness, in Scotland, the location of his psychological thriller; "The Survival of Thomas Ford". It's cold this time of year so we have extra blankets and will build a fire to sit by as John chats with us.
      John is featuring a contest and one lucky winner will receive a kindle version - see details below. Deanna and I have plenty of hot chocolate to go around. So find a seat on a nearby log or rock and join us in the dark, moonlit forest.

Reader’s Haven: Hi John! Thanks for inviting us to Scotland! Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

John: Thanks very much for inviting me to be here!
Well…I’ve been writing now for about 23 years. I decided to go “indie” after my second literary agent couldn’t find a publisher for my 5th novel, The Survival of Thomas Ford. My agent had had such high hopes for the book, and had convinced me too. His colleague at the agency had read The Survival of Thomas Ford and she told my agent it was the best novel she had read in the last four years. This was taken very seriously, as she had discovered Slumdog Millionaire as an unpublished manuscript, the book that had gone on to win 8 Oscars as a film in 2009. And yet, even with all this support, and despite my agent finding publishers in Scotland and London who said they loved The Survival of Thomas Ford, still no publisher would finally take the book. It was very disappointing. Although I’d sold short stories over the years, including to the big UK publishers like Picador and Vintage, where editors including John Fowles (The French Lieutenant’s Woman etc), and A L Kennedy, and Toby Litt, and Ali Smith, had all chosen my stories to be published when they were editors of anthologies, and this had meant I’d seen paperbacks with my stories in them go on to be sold in most countries of the world…still, I’d never had a novel published, never been given that chance.
     So, I decided to publish The Survival of Thomas Ford as a Kindle ebook.
     I went on to become a bestseller on Amazon…it won a Special Award in the E-festival of Words Best of the Independent eBooks Awards 2012…it was also Goodreads UK Kindle Forum Book of the Month and an Alliance of Independent Authors Book of the Month.
     Amazon has just put the first page of The Survival of Thomas Ford in the new UK video advert for the Kindle Paperwhite…you can see it being read onscreen from 3.00 to 3.06 in the UK product page video…that was a nice Christmas present!
     Otherwise, about me…I live in the Highlands of Scotland, and I love writing…films too!

Reader’s Haven: Wow! Congrats on all the awards. What made you want to become a writer?

John: I loved reading when I was at school, and I loved films too…anything with a story seemed to take possession of me. Stephen King was a big influence…Ray Bradbury…then I started reading all sorts of novels, anything I could get hold of, until suddenly, the idea came that maybe I could try to do this too. I suppose just loving novels and short stories I read so much made me naturally want to try to do it myself.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about The Survival of Thomas Ford without giving away any spoilers.

John: The novel is a psychological thriller set in the Highlands of Scotland, near Loch Ness. Thomas Ford survives a car crash which has killed his wife. He is the only surviving witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the young driver has no intention of ever letting himself be identified. He would sooner see Thomas Ford dead than ever allow that to happen. The young driver’s father, a wealthy and powerful housing developer, is also a very important character in the book.
     So is the young driver’s girlfriend, Lorna, who is a cleaner at the local hospital where Thomas Ford recuperates after the crash. Some readers have mentioned a mystical dimension to the book in places, the forces of nature, or even perhaps unnatural forces, seeming to come into play at times, influencing the outcome of the situation as it develops. One reviewer suggested the novel might be “a study on the nature of the universe”(!)…though, of course, whatever levels or meanings readers see in the story…and it is always fascinating to hear what they have made of the book…first and foremost it just has to work as a good, tense story! As long as that basic structure and machinery is in place, then it is possible to have some fun filling in the in-betweens here and there…that’s when it can get mysterious too!  

     Anyway, in the end, The Survival of Thomas Ford becomes a race against time, to prevent a second young woman losing her life.

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

John: No, John A. A. Logan is my real name (including the initials!)

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

John: It’s probably true to say that flawed, human, sensitive, troubled main characters are the ones I like best…though often they are struggling to make more out of their lives than circumstances seem to be allowing.

Reader’s Haven: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

John: I usually have to get other tasks/responsibilities out of the way first, before I can focus on working on something new. Then I will tend to be quite disciplined and write a certain amount of words a day, not too many, not too few. At another stage, the day’s work might mean reading/editing work done on another day. And now there is online promotion to do sometimes…trying to reach new readers, writing interviews sometimes! 

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

John: They’re VERY different. I have a 200-page collection of 10 short stories, Storm Damage, published on Kindle. Each story in that collection is very different from the next: one where a strange choice of astronaut is made for Scotland’s first Independent Space Mission to Mars; one set in a village just after World War One; one set in the African desert; another about a bombing mission over Dresden in World War Two which ends up in modern India…
    It’s the same with the novels…The Survival of Thomas Ford is a psychological thriller…in 2013 I’ll publish Agency Woman on Kindle, and that is a 400-page espionage thriller, though a quirky one…I have another three novels completed, which will go up on Kindle later:
    Starnegin’s Camp:set two thousand years ago in which an insane Emperor impregnates eighteen young women with his supposedly Divine seed, and sends them by ship to begin a colony on the other side of the world, where Starnegin, the new colony’s leader, has begun to act very strangely, disappearing into the forest alone every day, to do no-one knows what…
The Major: A novel about the blue collar tyre supply depot manager in a small Scottish city who is really a visitor from the cosmos, come to do mischief among the local community.
Rocks in the Head: A social-realist coming-of-age story…set in the late-20th century.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

John: It took me a year to write The Survival of Thomas Ford, then I edited the book for two years before sending it off to the literary agent in London who eventually represented the book. But then that agent wanted a few changes here and there which required further editing. Then the film consultant at that agency, the one who had discovered Slumdog Millionaire, had ideas for further editing, which resulted in her phoning me for 13 hours over an 8 week period(I kept count!)…so in that book’s case, a year to write, and then perhaps 3 years of editing…which is probably a bit extreme! Then again, my short story collection, Storm Damage, was much the same, 18 months to write, then a bit over 2 years to edit…

Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

John: Yes, I do. Alone, and in silence…I wear ear-plugs!

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

John: Usually a name just comes to me, in the flow of writing…later, I might have to change a name…especially just before publication, I have to think hard and make sure I’ve not subconsciously used a name that could be confused with any real person etc. The subconscious itself, though, that deep well within, is where the names come from usually…they just “appear” one day…

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

John: Again, I try not to pick anything! I try to get out of the way and let the subconscious do a good job of picking. Though I do tend to set novels in “the city”…without naming this city or saying too definitely where it is…though often much of the action occurs then outside “the city”…in the rural areas around it…forests…mountains…beaches…and more often than not, so far, these are locations in the north of Scotland…the Scottish Highlands…The Survival of Thomas Ford makes a lot of use of a forest location and this may be because I lived in a place like that, as a young child.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

John: I’m working on my 6th novel, which will go to my agent in London, and he will send it out to the London and Scottish publishers. He’s also currently approaching film producers about my novel, The Survival of Thomas Ford.
     My next e-book, though, will be that espionage thriller, Agency Woman…due out in early-to-mid 2013 on Amazon Kindle!

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

John: On the following sites:

Twitter: @JohnAALogan

Enter through the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win 
a Kindle copy of The Survival of Thomas Ford. Good luck! 

     Thanks very much for having me here, I enjoyed it, and All best to everyone for 2013!

      Thomas Ford is the only survivor of the car crash which killed his wife. He is also the only witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the driver has no intention of ever letting himself be identified, not to mention what his father’s intentions are…or those of his girlfriend, Lorna, the hospital cleaner.
      The young driver’s father is Jack McCallum, the powerful entrepreneur who has built a housing empire, McCallum Homes, on the high hills surrounding the city. Jack has his own dark secret to protect, as well as his business edifice to hold onto. There is no way in the world that Jack McCallum will ever let anything threaten the future of McCallum Homes.
      Robert Ferguson, the passenger who was with the young driver on the day of the crash, curses himself for ever getting into the car. He watches carefully to see what the universe will do about it all, and he thinks he can hear the gears and chambers of the universe’s engine, rolling terribly towards them, out of the future, and he knows he can’t cope with that, not even if he takes his medication.
      In the end, destiny will pull them all far out of the city, some of them to the moonlit hillside, where white butterflies and mysterious gas fill the air, and wild cats wrap themselves around cold trees. Jack McCallum’s trusted Polish foreman, Lanski, will recognise the place from the folklore-wilderness of his own childhood, a place where death can come stalking in the form of a white wolf, but perhaps also redemption can appear, for those like Thomas Ford who seek it.
      In any case, the young driver has it in mind to take his destiny into his own hands now, which will soon lead to the life of a second young woman hanging in the balance, awaiting salvation or destruction, perhaps only the Fates, or the wind that blows through the trees, know which.
Happy New Year Everyone 
from Deanna Jewel and Louise James!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi John,
    Great interview. You have had so many "near misses" I am sure huge success is just around the corner. I too need silence to write. The Scottish Highlands, what a beautiful place that is.
    Don't enter me for the Giveaway, as I already have The Survival of Thomas Ford, I can't wait to read it.



  2. Thanks very much, Margaret, I hope you enjoy the book!
    All best,

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