Monday, August 21, 2017

Interview with John Herrick, BEAUTIFUL MESS


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Del Corwyn hasn’t had a hit film since his Academy Award nomination 40 years ago. He’s desperate to return to the spotlight but teeters on bankruptcy. Del is a forgotten legend—until, while combing through personal memorabilia, he discovers an original screenplay written by his once-close friend, Marilyn Monroe, who named Del as its legal guardian. The news goes viral. Suddenly, Del skyrockets to the A-list and has a chance to revive his career—if he’s willing to sacrifice his friend’s memory and reputation along the way.

Beautiful Mess is a humorous coming-of-age story about a 78-year-old man who lives in his own fictional world. The novel incorporates lesser-known facts about Marilyn Monroe and imagines the further impact she might have made on pop culture if her life hadn’t reached an abrupt end.

Check out the book trailer! You can find it at my website, www.johnherrick.net.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
I’ve had a minor issue evolve into a major one. My novel From the Dead centered around Jesse Barlow, a preacher’s son who left home to pursue a career in California. Things go south for Jesse, and after a suicide attempt, he returns home to make amends, conduct some serious self-reflection, and find a way to emerge from his father’s shadow. When I first identified the concept, the preacher’s son aspect was just a fact, the launching point for the novel. I didn’t plan to dig into the details of Jesse’s faith. But as I planned the book, I realized I couldn’t do his story justice without introducing a faith element to it, because it would have represented such a significant part of who he is. So From the Dead became mainstream fiction with a strong religious bent. That made marketing the book much more difficult because people will attack you from both sides, but many other readers recognize the intended balance.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
I would never be opposed to a major press. However, I love the benefits of the small indie route I’m on right now. I have the opportunity not only to write, but to stay involved in all aspects of the project, from creative to marketing to analytics. In a way, I get to be a creative director, but I’m surrounded by people who are much better at making particular aspects happen. You can’t beat experience like that. So if I ever sign with a New York house, I have a working knowledge of each team member’s role, which will help me collaborate and communicate. When your team fires on all cylinders and you collaborate well, the product ends up so much stronger. Many people underestimate the value of recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, and their end-product suffers for it.

How involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
One of the benefits of working with a smaller indie press is that your involvement is welcome. My professional background is a blend of creative, IT, analytics, project management, and marketing, so I tend to collaborate well. Although my involvement with the Beautiful Mess cover design was limited, I’ve found the artwork for all my past books myself. I think that’s because, as the writer, I know not only what the novel contains, but what it doesn’t contain—the “why” factors that motivate the characters but don’t get included in the manuscript. So I can sense when an image resonates with the story. But to date, I have written all the copy for my books—years ago, I wrote ad copy for radio, which helped prepare me for that. Nothing goes to waste.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
You know, I’ve never tried a critique group. I’m wary of getting input on a novel until the first draft is complete, because well-intended comments at the wrong time can dishearten a writer. You NEED criticism—you can’t improve as a writer without it—but you don’t need it too early. You can always make your draft better, so I focus on planning the story and getting the words on the page. Once the first draft is completed, I have a few people who read the drafts and are willing to give me honest feedback, even if it’s harsh.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I usually have a playlist going. For Beautiful Mess, I listened to several film scores, which was a first for me. Since it’s a romantic comedy, most of the scores were lighthearted and fun, such as The Intern, Finding Neverland, It’s Complicated, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I need a detailed plan. Most of my stories begin with a 50-100 page sketch, a miniature version of the novel. In fact, it’s so detailed, I lift some dialogue blocks from it verbatim! But it’s the only way I’ve found I can complete a project. I need a road map. That’s where my years working in the IT world helped—I developed discipline, troubleshooting skills, and project management experience. The key to my first novel was pretending the book was a 9-month software implementation project, and creating a project plan, including time estimates and milestones. Whatever works!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the publishing arena?
Never give up! Ever. The best things in life, the most substantive achievements, take YEARS (not months) to come to fruition. So if you want to develop a high-quality reputation as a writer, determine to put in the years of effort. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Oh my word, I adore my little niece and nephews. Perhaps the greatest honor of my life is being Uncle John, and one of the greatest privileges is getting to treasure those kids. We have so much fun together, and it’s amazing to watch their personalities develop year by year.

What’s next for you?
I have another romantic comedy ready to go in late 2018. For the latest on my work, feel free to check out my website, www.johnherrick.net. You’ll find my Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads links there, too. Hearing from people is such a privilege. I read and try to reply to everything I receive.

Thanks so much for letting me stop by!

  
BLURB:

A fallen star. Four Los Angeles misfits.
And the Marilyn Monroe you only thought you knew.

Del Corwyn is an aging relic. An actor who advanced from errand boy to Academy Award nominee, Del kept company with the elite of Hollywood’s golden era and shared a close friendship with Marilyn Monroe. Today, however, he faces bankruptcy.

Humiliated, Del is forced to downgrade his lifestyle, sell the home he's long cherished, and fade into a history of forgotten legends—unless he can revive his career. All he needs is one last chance. While searching through memorabilia from his beloved past, Del rediscovers a mysterious envelope, dated 1962, containing an original screenplay by Marilyn Monroe—and proof that she named him its legal guardian.

Del surges to the top of Hollywood’s A-list overnight. But the opportunity to reclaim his fame and fortune brings a choice: Is Del willing to sacrifice newfound love, self-respect and his most cherished friendship to achieve his greatest dream?

A story of warmth, humor and honesty, Beautiful Mess follows one man's journey toward love and relevance where he least expects it—and proves coming-of-age isn't just for the young.



Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better the chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 



a Rafflecopter giveaway