I’m hosting an interview for alternate history novel “Catcher’s Keeper”. I hope you enjoy the interview.
1. How long have you been writing?
When asked how long I’ve been writing, my standard answer is: “Just over a decade.” But truth be told, I have been writing ever since I can remember, filling childhood journals with poems and existential, prepubescent musings. My mother, a high school English teacher, would try to encourage me to read, read, read…but I always felt drawn to put pen to paper and create my own words. If I had known then that reading would make me a better writer, I would’ve taken her advice. But alas, what tween wants to admit Mom is right?
2. Is Catcher’s Keeper your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
CATCHER’S KEEPER is my first published book, but I have four other completed manuscripts. The first of which has an interesting backstory: When I had gotten in on the ground floor of a web design firm in 1996 and thought I’d make millions by the time I hit thirty. That didn’t happen. But the experience was so tumultuous, I started writing about it as a way of catharsis. That became my first novel (unpublished), entitled Giddy-Up, Start-Up. I may go back to it someday.
3) Why did you choose alternative historical fiction as genre for your book?
Actually, I believe the genre chose me. Years ago as a student teacher at Andover High School, my mentor handed me a VHS tape of an old Dateline video that featured Mark David Chapman’s fixation on The Catcher in the Rye and its influence in his murder of John Lennon. Every subsequent year I taught Catcher, I would play that video for my class—and found myself equal parts enthralled and horrified with the tragedy again and again. This book was born from that fascination of mine—how a novel could move someone to act in such an extreme way. I also couldn’t help but wonder what Holden would have thought if he knew what his words triggered.
Also, probably because I taught high school English, I adore spin-offs on classics. I love when an author offers an alternative viewpoint of a secondary character. For instance, FINN by John Clinch offers a brilliant view of Huck Finn’s father. I think Mark Twain would’ve loved it too. And Gregory Maguire’s WICKED has made the world sympathize with the most notorious villain, the Wicked Witch of the West. What a triumph!
4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read everything! Newspapers, classic literature, tabloids, poetry, try free e-books in different genres, etc. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. That said, write what you know and what you’re passionate about. Your story will have to sustain you through several rounds of revisions and edits and rereads and then marketing… Love your story!
Nurture your craft. I took an online class on creative writing a few years ago, and I hate to admit this, but at the time I didn’t think I was going to learn anything new. Boy, was I wrong! I learned so much! I still use techniques I learned from that class. I know now, I always have something to learn.
Don’t give up! And don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s amazing how generous other authors have been in offering help as I published my debut novel. And it’s my pleasure to help other writers whenever I can.
5. Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently querying a completed Middle Grade Magical Realism manuscript entitled PLAY FOR PAYNE, which is about a young piano prodigy who becomes seduced by a magic potion that gifts athletic prowess. The struggle she endures addresses timely issues such as staying true to yourself in the midst of heavy peer pressure. It also addresses performance-enhancing drug use that has been so prevalent in the news lately. I am just starting to outline another novel, which has an element of mystery…and a very cute hedgehog.
Author: Johannah Davies Spero
Genre: Commercial Fiction / Alternate History Fiction
What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot?
In 1980 John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who believed he was Holden Caulfield, narrator of the classic The Catcher in the Rye. After the shooting, Chapman remained on the scene calmly reading the book, which he later offered to police as “his statement.” Catcher’s Keeper asks the question, “What if Holden had met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination?”
Johannah Davies Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English literature, Russian language, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, a freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for a signed paperback copy of the book. The giveaway is US/CA only.
Go here for the giveaway.