I’m John Gilstrap, and over the course of two decades, I’ve written 18 novels, four screenplays, and a handful of short stories My most recent thrillers have featured my series character, Jonathan Grave, a freelance hostage rescue specialist.
Why do you write crime fiction?
The only stories that float into my head are crime stories.In my fictional world, justice always triumphs over the bad guys. There’s something very compelling about that.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, always. Literally, for as long as I can remember. Even in elementary school, I loved to write stories.
What influences the content that you write? News? Books? Personal experiences? Previous jobs?
All of the above influence my storytelling. I often say that it’s hard to conceive of a better time to be a thriller writer. It helps that my past jobs have included 15 years as a firefighter and EMT, plus years in the weapons manufacturing business.
Do you have to do lots of research when you are writing?
I tend to write within the boundaries of things I understand, but there are always holes in my expertise. I’m blessed to have many friends and contacts who are very, very knowledgeable in some pretty esoteric areas, and they’re very generous with their time.
Do you have a writing routine?
I guess I must, because I’m able to produce a book every year, but I don’t think of it as a routine. My deadline arrives every September 15, but then with the various levels of edits, it’s usually mid-January before I can really move on to the next story. Early on, I spend two or three hours a day writing the book. Come summertime, though, as the deadline looms, I’ll end up writing eight to ten hours per day. I’m always exhausted when I turn a book in.
Your first (technically fourth) novel, Nathan’s Run was received so well with Warner Bros. buying the movie rights shortly after the book rights were sold. How did that feel?
The feeling is hard to put into words, to be honest. During that first week in March, 1996, I earned the equivalent of roughly 10 times the money I had earned, cumulatively, during my whole life leading up to the sale. (For perspective, I was 38 years old when I wrote NATHAN’S RUN.) That night changed every conceivable thing about my life.
I found it really interesting to read that after the huge success of your first and second novel, Nathan’s Run and At All Cost (after selling both the book and movie rights) you returned to a full time job. Did you still find time to write?
Here’s one I cannot explain. When I went back to a day job (my wife called it my big-boy job), I was more prolific as a writer than I’d been up till that time. I think it had something to do with the forced focus. When writing is your only job, and deadlines occur only once per year, procrastination is easy. Throw in a job with responsibilities and a commute, and procrastination is not an option.
What made you decide to return to writing full time?
From the first day when I returned to the day job, I promised myself that as soon as the job ceased to be fun, I would walk away from it. That’s exactly what happened. For lack of a better way to put it, the intra-office corporate bullshit ran me out.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome this?
I don’t think writer‘s block is a real thing. There are days when I’m not motivated, and there are days when I feel hopelessly lost within a story, but so what? As a professional, my job is to power through the moments when it feels easiest to quit. When I feel like I don’t have a good idea, I start writing the best bad idea that’s floating in my head. I see creativity as a flow, once it starts–once a writer starts writing anything–it keeps going.
Which authors and books do you like?
I’m an omnivore. I read a lot of nonfiction, but I also read thrillers. It’s always a mistake to name names, because I will always forget someone. That said,k off the top of my head, I read pretty much everything written by Nelson DeMille, Reavis Wortham, Stuart Neville, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Eric Larsen, and many more.
If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers which one would it be and why?
Hmm. You know that’s a really tough question, right? My most recent Jonathan Grave thriller, Final Target, has a lot to offer for pretty much all readers–except those who are looking for romance. My most recent non-series book, Nick of Time, would be a good choice, too. That one tells the story of a terminally ill teenager who runs away with her childhood crush–who happens to be wanted for murder.
Where can people find more information out you?
My website is www.johngilstrap.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: JohnGilstrapAuthor. Twitter: @JohnGilstrap
As always, the links below are all clickable and take you to Amazon. I have tried to share as many of John’s books as possible but do check out his website for the complete list.
Nick of Time
Against All Enemies
Thank you John for taking part in this series! I have loved hearing more about your writing career.