What’s your idea of a perfect day? Not having an alarm clock reminding me of something imminent that I must be doing. Then, a leisurely cup of coffee with my wonderful spouse, Laureen, interspersed with exciting conversation. And then getting behind the keyboard and dutifully knocking out 2500 words on whatever I am currently working on. The afternoon would then be spent relaxing with a cool beverage by the pool and then later standing by the barbeque with family and friends.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal? I enjoy wearing hats of all types; cowboy, drivers or baseball caps. I use the reason of protecting my head from the sun but I just truly like the looks of the various hats in my collection.
Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most? Ray Bradbury was easily my single-most influential writer – but not for the reasons one might think. I interviewed him for a magazine article in the mid-nineties and continued our friendship until his passing in 2012. He was the one who convinced me to branch out and start writing fiction. I had been writing non-fiction for newspapers and magazines but on his advice, I tried fiction. It was great advice. As a voracious reader, there are too many great writers to list, but the classical writers such as Steinbeck and Hemingway always seem a great re-read at any time. Their style was simple but always thought provoking – a good writer should always strive to make their reader scratch their heads and look at things in a different light.
Do you listen to music when you write? No, my characters are always chatting away in my head and music for me would be a distraction from what my characters are saying and doing. I must pay attention to the world I am creating at the moment – be that a short story or a novel.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why? It would be made from almost pure cacao. Perhaps like a bar of Dagoha Eclipse – with only organic ingredients like fruit, clove and other spices. It is natural and real just like my novels. Fiction should sound like non-fiction and thus the writing must be made of real ingredients so the reader does not know if what they are seeing on the pages of my novel is real or make-believe.
What made you interested in writing this particular story? We had been to Peru before and since Jonas Peters has been a protagonist in a couple of my other novels, I decided to ask myself – what would Jonas Peters do if the past came back to haunt him? That past took place twenty years earlier in the harsh realm of the Peruvian rain forest when Jonas was working on a joint law enforcement operation. The answer was simple, he would investigate, kick whatever needed kicking to get the job done and then return with a smile on his face.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? The theme of good vs evil in human nature. What horror people will do to each other – even their loved ones — has always intrigued me. Perhaps it is because of my prior career as a law enforcement officer or having a doctorate in clinical psychology. Unfortunately, that theme never seems to diminish in the non-fictional or fictional world.
Tell us about your main character. Jonas Peters is a retired homicide detective from Southern California who has started his own private detective business. He is tough, flawed and dangerous. He carries the vision of watching his own young daughter being gunned down in front of him. It wasn’t his fault, but he cannot seem to allow himself to be convinced of that truth. The burden is his to carry, and the truth is he will never forgive himself. He won’t and he can’t.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters. Jonas, because he does have a bit of an edge, could be a combination of Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis and Mark Wahlberg.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include? Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Paul Theroux, Ray Bradbury, Jack London, and myself.
What’s next for you? To keep writing. I have two novels in the works now. A fictional ‘cop’ one but with a twist from my regular style, and a historical fiction dealing with Vlad Dracul. My spouse and I also have a blog concerning exploration and research: J and L Research and Exploration (https://jandlresearchandexploration.blogspot.com/).
Tell us a bit about your new book. The novel begins in Riverside, California where Jonas Peters is to meet up with his fiancée at a coffee shop. Suddenly the shop explodes and dozens die. Sam, his fiancée, is severely wounded. Jonas takes it upon himself with the help of his friend, Frank Sanders, to find out who was behind the terrorist attack. The book moves at a rapid pace while Frank looks for leads locally and Jonas travels to the far reaches of the Amazon rain forest where he had once worked on a joint task force with the Peruvian military. Intrigue, death, sorrow, and danger are all wrapped up in this mysterious adventure before the final conclusion where good finally crushes evil.
What inspired you to write it? Having previously visited Peru for vacations and loving the people, culture and beauty of the country I knew there was a story to be told. I asked myself what if Jonas had been there. What would he have been doing there and with whom? What could cause him to reach into the bottom of his soul and risk everything to return there for answers to something I wasn’t sure of? I started the novel to see where Jonas would lead me – to the very interesting and frightening world in which he had once lived.
How did you get started writing? I cannot remember a time I did not write. As a young boy I would write stories of adventure and exploration. I would think to myself ‘what if?’ and then a story would show itself to me. It still does – I’ve always written.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the writing process? My least enjoyable aspect of writing is editing. I know it is a must, but after editing my writing three or four times and then having my editor do it a few more times I get sort of tired mentally. It also takes time away from writing new stories — my favorite thing about the writing process. To create new worlds with strong characters is so wonderful for me and I want to share that with my readers. I want to take people on a journey holding my book in their hands from the comfort of their home.
What do you think makes a good story? Intriguing characters, a fast moving interesting plot and realistic dialogue.
How do you incorporate that into your books? When I write, I pretend that I am the reader and if it doesn’t interest me then how could it interest anyone else? Dialogue must be real, emotions tender and sometimes raw, characters who are human in all qualities, and a story line that is a page turner. That’s how a good story is written.
How long have you been writing? As long as I can remember. There are even short stories hidden away in a closet at our house from when I was in junior high. Being creative and using my imagination has always been a part of me. I was always the one who built forts, described scenarios for my friends to play, and knew how things would finish. Well, most of the time – sometimes imagination and play take on a life of their own.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out? That getting published was such hard work. I love writing and telling a story isn’t difficult for me but to get that tale in front of readers sometimes is. Rejection slips come with the territory. I have won awards for my writing but even with that, I still have short stories that don’t get published. It’s a crazy world, this writing industry. But, and this is a must –never give up.
Has that changed the way you write or market your books? No, I write like I always have – with purpose and with a story to tell. Marketing – a writer must realize that to truly get their work in front of the reading public every aspect of marketing must be investigated. A publicist is certainly one way to go. They have the connections for radio guest spots, podcast interviews, magazine/newspaper pieces and possibly a television appearance here and there.
About the marketing thing—love it, hate it? I actually love it. To speak or write about my love of the art is one thing I never tire of. Discussing my work with others is a great release of positive energy to hook a new reader, entertain a current fan, or perhaps even get someone to think about sitting down and telling their story.
Would Jonas Peters like you for a friend? Dish the details here. I would think Jonas and I would get along well. Both former cops and perhaps flawed in different ways but with similar ways in which to deal with the pain caused by such. We would laugh, have a beer and be friends. We would definitely cover each other’s back – and isn’t that what a true friend would do?
What advice would you like to give Jonas Peters? He doesn’t take advice that well so I would tread lightly. I would suggest that he love Sam, his soon-to-be-wife, well and make sure never to go to bed angry next to her. Life is short and sometimes love can be too. Make the best of the time we have on this floating globe.
What advice would Jonas Peters give you? As a friend he would also probably treat me as I would him. Love with all your heart and treasure the time we have. We have both seen how quickly death can take loved ones away so we must make the best of it.
If you couldn’t write, what would you do? Be a dirt-digger. I love researching and exploring so to have a career in archaeology would be a great fit for me. I also love the outdoors – what a great combination – learning about past civilizations while sleeping under the stars.
Tell us a bit about yourself. I believe in the saying (I made this up), ‘Don’t be afraid to take a step off a ladder and into the unknown’. That is how I’ve lived my life – different careers, different paths but they all seem to lead me into the most interesting existence. I’ve traveled the world, seen things most will never see, and am able to write about those experiences both in fiction and non-fiction. Each day is a new adventure – good or bad. I’ve made mistakes and try to never repeat them but sometimes fail in that aspect. But I never blame others – and move on to the next adventure.
On a more personal note – I have a beautiful supportive spouse, four amazing adult daughters and great sons-in-law. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that within the Beyer household there are four mostly well-behaved canines which makes life rather interesting at times.
Where do you see yourself in five years – this is the time to dream big! To have great health as I have now. To be with the woman I love as I have now. To continue writing as much as possible. To always remember that I am writing for a faithful audience and as an artist to please them with wonderfully rich stories which allows them to escape into the real world of fiction.
Former street cop, training officer and member of SWAT John Beyer has been writing most of his life. He’s traveled to at least 23 countries (and was actually shot in the head in Spain in 2000 during a march between Neo Nazis and Communists two days after running with the bulls in Pamplona). He was caught in a hurricane off the coast of east Baja (Bahia de los Angeles) while kayaking and lived to tell about it. Essentially, it’s hard to tell where experience leaves off and fiction takes over. You’ll want to read his books.
Website URL: http://johnrobertbeyer.weebly.com/
Blog URL: http://jandlresearchandexploration.blogspot.com/
Iquitos: The Past Will Kill buy link: Iquitos
Operation Scorpion buy link: Operation Scorpio