Fellow author and good friend, John Reinhard Dizon, is a talented and diverse author whose work spans numerous genres. It’s no exaggeration to say that he has truly written something for everyone whether you’re a fan of steampunk, international intrigue, medical thrillers, murder mysteries, or historical fiction to name a few. Learn more about what’s behind his incredible talent and ability to create original plots populated with unforgettable characters you feel as if you know personally by the time the story ends.
While most authors who have written as extensively as you have would typically develop their own style, I have unofficially nicknamed you the Literary Chameleon due to your ability to adapt so well to so many genres. I have read Stxeamtown, Tiara, Transplant and most recently, Generations, and am amazed by your ability to completely change your writing style from one book to the next. How do you do that?
I think it’s more a question of adapting rather than changing. My four main ingredients are a dynamic plot, compelling characters, snappy dialogue and a powerful finish. You’ll find that common quality in all my novels. As far as genre goes, I made it a point to explore as many as possible in order to give a future fan base a wide variety of reading material. The way I saw it, there would be something for everybody. At this point in time I’ve been working on sequels, the logic being that it gives readers something to latch onto in following their favorite characters. You know how it goes, if at first you don’t succeed.
You have been writing books for much of your adult life. At what point did you realize you wanted to be an author?
I started writing dialogue for my stick-figure cartoons since I got out of diapers. I wrote my first novella, Enemy Ace, in sixth grade. I only wish I had more encouragement and guidance earlier in life. It wasn’t until my later years when I published my first novel. That should be something for parents out there to think about.
Of all your novels, was any one in particular your all-time favorite?
I’d have to go with Tiara and Nightcrawler. Berlin Mansfield and Sabrina Brooks are two of my favorite characters. The expository narrative in Tiara provides everything everyone wants to know about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which can get extremely complicated with all the factions and politics involved. Nightcrawler discusses numerous women’s issues as well as LGBT concerns that give readers plenty of food for thought. I can name a few of my other novels that raise major social and political questions, but Berlin and Sabrina make these two special.
You grew up in Brooklyn, spent time living in San Antonio and now live in Kansas City. Have you been a chameleon adapting to the different cultures represented by those cities similar to how your writing adapts to the different genres or do you consider one “home” or more comfortable above the others?
I’ve always been a wrestler and a punk rocker first and foremost, that’s what defines me. Broadway Turk Superstar hasn’t changed much, though the response from the communities I’ve lived in have differed somewhat. Alternately, as a writer I’ve been able to absorb the lifestyles and cultures in each area and translate them in my novels. The big city glamor of NYC, the Southwestern flavor of San Antonio and the Midwestern flair of Kansas City provided me with a wide diversity of American culture that was worth the cost of the journey.
Tiara and Generations have extensive and convincing descriptions of Ireland as well as Irish culture, past and present and its rich history. How did you come by this understanding and obvious love for the Emerald Isle and its people?
My mother’s ancestry was Protestant Irish, though she celebrated St. Patty’s Day like every other good Irishman in NYC. I grew up with that solidarity, and it wasn’t until Bloody Sunday in 1972 that I realized something was amiss in the Old Country. I did vast amounts of research and wrote a couple of stories, but nothing came of it until I visited Northern Ireland in 2000. The experience gave me the push I needed to have Tiara published in 2003.
You have a definite talent for convincing dialog, even to the point of capturing foreign and local accents. This suggests that you are a master of observation. Do you do this naturally or was it acquired by necessity?
It’s a bit of everything. I’m somewhat of a historian, and did extensive research on 20th century Germany which led me to explore the development of European society and culture. I’ve also studied anthropology, which helped me trace the history of the human race from the Middle East to the diasporas which forced the Israelite tribes to migrate across the Caucasus Mountains into Europe. When you find the common denominator between people of all races and creeds, it makes it a lot easier to pick up on their distinguishing characteristics as well.
Which trait or characteristic do you believe is the most important for a new writer to develop? Any other advice for someone aspiring to be a novelist?
Imagination is the most important ingredient. If you’re just trying to mimic other people’s ideas, you’ll never be creating anything but cheap imitations. If your basic premise is something that hasn’t been explored before, then you’re onto something. Alternately, there’s the whole concept of paying tribute to a person, place or thing. I wrote Transplant with the idea of putting a new spin on the Frankenstein novel. Only I incorporated the idea of bionic limb research, which has proliferated as the number of disabled vets in our nation has multiplied. In other words, although there’s nothing new under the sun, you want to make your readers envision your storyline in a way it hasn’t been seen before.
You have a vast array of experience and education behind you that shows up in the authenticity inherent in your novels. How much of it is based on experience and how much on research?
I’d have to say it’s a fifty/fifty split. Most of my personal experience comes into play when it comes to character interaction. I’ve known people from all walks of life in my time – children, teens, the elderly, blue-collar workers, corporate administrators, politicians, clergymen, gangsters, you name it. I know how they walk, talk and think. As far as specific areas of interest or geographical locations, that normally requires a lot of research to get it right. If you’ve done a lot of traveling as I have, you have a plan of action as far as finding the main highways, places to stay, areas to visit, et cetera. That’s what I do when I decide on a locale for the novel to take place. I want people to think, `Hey, he’s been there, done that’. Sometimes I get into uncharted waters, which requires a little extra work. Sabrina Brooks, for example, owns a chemical research company. I didn’t get far in chemistry because I suck at math. I had to do a lot of homework on processing different chemicals, like methane and fentanyl. It’s hard to bullspit a bullspitter, but I think I did a good job.
You’ve pursued some rather unusual means for earning a paycheck over the years such as rock star and pro wrestler. Do you find writing as exciting or do you still like to go out and participate in something that gives you an adrenaline rush? If so, such as?
At this age, you’re always looking for that last hurrah. I think I can have one more wrestling match, a few more hockey games, and a few more rock shows. Like they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Plus, I think I’ve fairly well worn out my warranty. I don’t have too many more bumps left on my bump card. I’d hate to go flying through the air someday and find out something’s not working right when I land.
Do you base your characters on people you’ve known or do they simply evolve with the story? Do you maintain control over their actions or do they sometimes get out of hand or surprise you? Any examples?
Most of my supporting characters are based on people I know. I think they’d be delighted if they ever read one of my books and saw themselves in a story. The major protagonists and antagonists are larger-than-life creations. What’s so great about Sabrina Brooks is the little girl inside her, that Shirley Temple who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. The Nightcrawler is her way of making sure it stays that way. Conversely, I’ve got Jack Gawain in The Standard series, who pushes the envelope right off the table. Sometimes it’s amusing to see just how far he will go. The basic premise was giving a serial killer a 007-type license to kill. The series poses the question as to just how far we will go to protect and defend our national interests and preserve our security. After Guantanamo Bay and drone strikes, Jack Gawain may be a natural progression.
Which part of the writing process is your favorite, i.e., coming up with the premise, developing the characters, perfecting the plot, writing the first draft, perfecting the final draft, or what?
I think the ending is the most important part of the process. I know everyone can name a great movie they saw that had an unbelievably crappy ending. As I mentioned, I usually have my ending before I even start writing. Only my plots have so many bizarre twists that sometimes the storyline doesn’t always connect with the climax. That will necessitate a rewrite, and most of the time it turns out even more controversial than I had planned.
Which book or books and character(s) will you present in the upcoming Facebook Mega-Event, Dreams, Fantasies, Nightmares & Visions?
Sabrina Brooks [Nightcrawler] will be featured at the two-hour event on Sunday. Princess Jennifer of Tiara will appear for one hour at the Wednesday night showcase. I had Adolf Hyatt (King of The Hoboes) at the last two Facebook parties, so this will be a welcome diversion for one and all.
Tiara is an action-packed, historical fiction, romantic thriller centering around the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998. The main female protagonist is Princess Jennifer of Edinburgh, a civil rights activist involved in the negotiations between the British government and the coalition groups in Ulster. She becomes an object of fascination to Berlin Mansfield, an international terrorist of Irish descent who is equally intent on attending the historic event as it transpires. The two eventually cross paths in a tale of intrigue and suspense with the future of a nation at stake.
Nightcrawler is about the exploits of Sabrina Brooks, the heiress to the Brooks Chemical Company. Bree is trying to pick up the pieces after her father’s death, and is now in a position to live up to a personal commitment to use her resources to benefit the oppressed. She is intrigued by the notion of conducting a guerrilla campaign against drug gangs in New York City, and accesses top-secret archives detailing Government contracts for developmental research of chemical weapons. She uses her wizardry in chemistry to concoct weapons for her own use as a vigilante known as the Nightcrawler. NYPD undercover officer Hoyt Wexford becomes friends with Bree, and begins to suspect she knows the identity of the Nightcrawler. Her sudden interest in a series of terrorist attacks in the New York area makes him believe she may be investigating a group called the Octagon. He tries to follow her but is too late to prevent a showdown between the Nightcrawler and the mysterious Reaper. Hoyt rescues Bree and learns her secret identity, and together they plan to stop the Octagon once and for all in preventing a chemical attack in NYC on the Fourth of July. This is a pulse-pounding thriller straight out of world headlines, with an unforgettable heroine fighting impossible odds against fiendish arch-criminals. For suspense fans looking for some chick lit with international intrigue, Nightcrawler is one not to be forgotten.
Connect with John Reinhard Dizon:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-Reinhard-Dizon/e/B00DU9JNUQ/