Frequently Asked Questions

1Where did you get the idea for From The Dead?
It was a classic what-if scenario. Here is my boilerplate answer: Driving home from work one evening, Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” came on the radio. I never cared much for the song, but for the first time I paid attention to the lyrics about a straight-laced preacher’s son who falls in love with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Questions rose up inside me: “What if it were the opposite situation? What if the preacher’s son had hit rock bottom?” Details started to pour forth, and by the time I got home, I spent 30 minutes trying to get them on paper. The story grew from there, usually with scene ideas coming to me in the car. Obviously, the story and song ended up with nothing in common, and the story is not based on the song or fashioned after it in any way.
2How long does it take you to write a book?
Bear in mind, I'm early in my career as a novelist, and most new novelists also work full-time during the day. So my writing occurs in the evenings and often during lunch. Averaging three hours a night, four or five nights a week, my first drafts take four to five months. The revisions take another four months. Before these phases can occur, I'll brainstorm the story's scenes, conduct research, and build high-level and low-level outlines.
3Are any of your novels autobiographical or biographical?
No. My novels are based neither on my own experience nor anyone else's. But the emotional aspects of my novels often reflect aspects of my own emotions, past or present. So the emotions can be autobiographical, but the ways they play out—a suicide attempt or relational encounter, for example—are not.
4How can I get my book autographed by John?
If you own a copy of a book I've written, I'd be glad to sign an autograph plate and send it to you. To receive an autograph plate, please send your request and mailing information via the Contact Us form.
5What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I'd offer the same advice regardless of their dream: Decide in advance you will never give up, because these things take longer than we think! Keep chipping away at it, bit by bit.
6How does an author get published?
Jane Friedman, former CEO of HarperCollins, offers a detailed overview of all your options at her website.
7How did you decide to become a writer?
When I was eight years old, I finished a school assignment and had to wait while other kids in the class finished. I noticed the kid sitting next to me writing a short story. It looked like fun, so I pulled out a sheet of paper, tried my hand at my first short story, and fell in love with writing. From that point on, I spent the most of my free time writing stories. Two years later, I decided to become a novelist when I grew up. When you discover something you could do the rest of your life and be content, you know it deep inside—you realize it’s what God designed you to do
8Do you face any insecurities as a writer?
Regardless of how much I’ve planned, I face a recurring fear that I’ll sit down to write and nothing will come. I’ve faced that fear since childhood, and it’s ridiculous because it proves irrelevant every time. I think many writers struggle with that, because if we try to write and nothing happens, we feel like we’ve failed. I’ve found the best way to fight that fear is to just sit down and write anyway. In other words, do it afraid.
9Is From The Dead your first novel?
First novel published, second novel written. My first novel, The Landing, actually hit the shelves second.
10Which writers influenced you as a writer?
Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain. Screenwriters Cameron Crowe, John Hughes, and Billy Wilder. Songwriters Diane Warren and Bernie Taupin—I spent years studying their lyrics. Finally, John Grisham made me fall back in love with reading in 1993, starting with The Firm. His books helped reignite my dream to write a novel one day.
11Are you in a romantic relationship?
I try not to discuss my romantic life publicly. That policy is a comfortable fit for me these days.
12Are you related to poet Robert Herrick or (older) writer John Herrick?
13You mention faith topics in some of your books. What is your faith and what do you believe?
I'm a Christian. Yes, I'm born again. Church-wise, I'm a charismatic. A solid overview of my Christian beliefs can be found at www.futureandhope.org. (I do not own or operate that website.)
14If you're a Christian, why do your books contain profanity or adult content?
I want my stories to be real. That is so important to me. To keep my characters as realistic as possible, I do not censor or whitewash them. In a news article, a journalist quotes people verbatim, not a "cleaned-up" version of what the people said. Likewise, I quote, so to speak, my characters' words and actions verbatim. My characters are not me and do not all share my value system, so some will speak or act differently than I do.

My one rule of censorship: I do not allow my characters to use God's name (including Jesus's name or title) in vain. That's a personal decision. All else is fair game.
15How can I arrange a media/press interview?
Feel free to get in touch via the Contact Us page.
16Do you read all comments sent through the Contact Us page?
Yes. The form allows me to weed out spam messages by sorting on the Subject line.