Friday, April 12, 2019

9 Questions with John Hazen

This week's featured author is John Hazen from  Riviera Beach, Florida and his thriller novel Zyklon

By John Hazen

1. What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book?

People who read Zyklon should walk away with a profound appreciation for the value of the press in a free society. The book revolves around two national stories that are on a collision course. If NYC journalist Francine Vega does not act, the resulting crash could rock the nation to its core. In these times, the message of a free and independent press can never be overstated. I constantly go back to Supreme Court Hugo Black’s famous line: The free press was to serve the governed, not the governors. I hope I’m able to impart this message.

2. Why did you write this book?

Other than the message in Question 1, this book is a sequel to my novel, Fava (which, by the way, was named one of the 18 Best FBI Thrillers by Best Thrillers ). I fell in love with the characters from that book, namely the main character, Francine Vega. She’s a resourceful, intrepid New York City TV reporter who has a way of digging up the big stories. She still has tales that need to be told and so I wrote this book. I also wrote this book because I’m also a lover of history and wanted to tell a story that highlights how the voices of the past can influence us today. In this case, the victims of the Holocaust speak to us so loudly that they can influence a presidential election.

3. What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?

Most definitely it’s been the promotional part of the process that is most difficult for me. I’m an introvert by nature so it’s an effort to promote my work. I always hope that the books will speak for themselves, but I know they need help on my part. That’s why I especially appreciate outlets like these for me to talk about my work.
4. What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey?

It’s been the friends I’ve made, primarily on Facebook, that I never would have met if I hadn’t embarked on my writing journey. I’ve gotten close to a number of our Black Rose Writing colleagues—writers like Tracy Ball, John Vance, Mary Ellen Bramwell and you—that I otherwise never would have known except through my writing. It’s also been special when people I don’t know write nice things about my books. You expect great reviews from friends and family but there’s no better feeling than when you get praise from out of the blue. Probably the most meaningful review I ever received was for my book Dear Dad ( ), which is about a soldier in Vietnam. Having not served in that war, I was nervous about whether I got it right. So, when I got a review that read ‘As a Vietnam War veteran I particularly related to this story’ I felt I nailed it.

5. Would you write a sequel to your book? Why or why not?

As a matter of fact, I’ve started the next sequel already. A New York City television reporter who teams up with her FBI Special Agent husband is a great combination and I envision a number of storylines that involve them. There’s no way I could ever be as prolific as James Patterson but I do see Francine Vega as being an Alex Cross-type character.

6. What author or book has influenced your writing?

I have always been a fan of John Steinbeck, having read a number of his books but most notably The Grapes of Wrath. I think what strikes me most about his books, and something I hope I could emulate is the way that he addresses global issues through the most common people you could ever imagine.

7. You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?

My all-time favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird so that book would have to be one of the three. For the other next I would pick Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It is the ultimate story of redemption that is timeless. There are so many candidates for number 3 and it’s difficult to narrow it down to one but, if I had to, I would go with The Source by James Michener. He does such a great job of telling story after story that is weaved together with the history of the region. I read it many years ago and a number of the tales from that book are still vivid in my mind.

8. What is your philosophy about rejection?

The main person I write for is myself. If others like what I write, that’s great. If they don’t, if they reject me, oh well. It’s not going to stop me from writing.

9. Do you have a day job? What is it?

I retired in 2017 from my job of 32 years with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection so I’m not at the moment in a day job. Now, I’m a man of leisure who tries to fit in writing when I can.

Twitter: @john_hazen

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