Interview: John Carenen

Please welcome our guest today, John Carenen, author of Face on the Other Side!

Face on the Other Side - Front Cover - Final - 300dpiWhat made you interested in writing this particular story?

Well, it’s a continuation in the series, book #3 (The Face on the Other Side) about my intrepid tough guy protagonist, Thomas O’Shea. I wondered what would happen if a true psychopathic genius were to insert himself into the bucolic village of Rockbluff, Iowa. So there we go! It’s a bit dark, but I found it hard to write roses and lollipops about this monster who threatens everything, and everyone, Thomas cares about.

Tell us about your main character.

My main character, Thomas O’Shea, has lived through great loss (his wife and children) and suffers because of it. He is flawed (drinks too much, questions God, has a penchant for violence as a way of resolving conflicts). He is a wise guy with a dark sense of humor, had training to become a SEAL, has worked private black ops with an old friend before he married. Thomas always acts with an edge even if it isn’t evident at first. He likes his privacy, but still has a difficult relationship with Liv Olson, a beautiful, divorced high school English teacher. He has an English Bulldog as a good friend.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

I’ll go with Spenser, John Wayne, and Jack Reacher. Maybe Woody Allen. On second thought, leave Woody out. Bad fit.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ll answer the question about Keeping To Himself. I knew a young man, years ago, who actually did witness a murder one night in the mountains of western North Carolina and who did not report it. He observed the crime while hiding behind bushes during a thunder storm. Two men killed a third man and dumped him in a stream and then left. The crime has never been solved to my knowledge, and I’ve thought about it a good bit over the years, then decided to use that as a basis for a “What if?” kind of situation. Would should the witness do? What are the repercussions for a man who just want to keep to himself? This fascinates me, and so I’m going with the premise.

What’s next for you?

I’m about halfway through the fourth Thomas O’Shea novel (Crop of Corruption) while working at the same time on a stand-alone story (Keeping To Himself) about a reclusive man who secretly witnesses a murder one night in the mountains of western North Carolina, and who does not report it, and the aftermath of that experience, that decision.


Dad_and_Roxie_-_photo_for_back_cover_and_websiteJohn Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health.

He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn’t writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts.

A retired an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

Find him online at:


8 thoughts on “Interview: John Carenen”

  1. Welcome, John! Thanks for visiting today. The idea of witnessing such a crime, and choosing not to do the “right thing” – phew! That’s a doozy of a premise. I’m curious to see how the character is affected by the decision; clearly, I’m engaged in the story already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No tips. The darkness of a dark story? Hmmm. I guess I’m just a naturally-cheerful person. I let my imagination run free while I’m working, then, satisfied with the day’s writing, get up and play with my dog.


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