Author Bling

Thursday, April 24, 2014

John Reinhard Dizon - An Author Interview

Tell us a little about yourself and your background, John?

My name is John Reinhard Dizon. I was born and raised in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, NY. I participated in local and high school sports at Bishop Loughlin MHS, and was a key figure on the Brooklyn rock scene during the Punk Revolution of the 70's. Relocating to San Antonio TX in the 80's, I moonlighted as a pro wrestler before pursuing a BA at UTSA and degrees in Korean martial arts during the 90's. I currently live in KC MO where I am studying for my MA in English at UMKC. I have been studying and writing about American and European society and culture for over twenty-five years.

What were you like at school?

Overactive child in grade school, enigmatic in high school, a ghost at the Unversity.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

That's a question I ask myself daily. They say one's family becomes hostage to fame and fortune, and that's the damned truth. All my family and friends are dead, and I've nothing to show for it but memories. Yet, having been an underground rock star, a minor league pro wrestler, expelled from the local ice hockey league, fought in the Golden Gloves in two states with legendary coaches, terrorizing martial arts clubs in two states, having ripped up both arms in MMA, publishing eleven books...I'll go to my grave wondering if I made a bad choice. 

What is your favorite quote?

"This is not the Nightcrawler. This is a girl!" --- The Reaper rips Sabrina's balaclava off after a beatdown in an ambush at a deserted warehouse.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Fame and fortune - it's now or never. The biological clock is ticking.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I started writing dialogue for my stick figure cartoons when I first got out of diapers. It became a habit that turned into a lifelong addiction.

Why do you write?

It's what I do best (at this stage of my life), and because I'm an artist. If I can't perform, entertain or create, my life has no meaning.

Which writers inspire you?

Ian Fleming as a young boy (I owned the entire James Bond collection), Robert E. Howard as a young man (ditto for the Conan the Barbarian series), and Franz Kafka introducing me to postmodernism as of late.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Full time. Now or never. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Where do the your ideas come from?

It's usually a concept I'm exposed to that germinates into a unique idea. I enjoy vigilante movies and was challenged by the idea of putting a wholesome, beautiful, intelligent woman in such a situation. The original Paul Kersey storyline was compelling in how a middle-aged professional evolved into the "Death Wish" character. Having Sabrina become the Nightcrawler was just as fascinating. As far as my historical novels, I pick a cataclysmic episode in world history and work from there. In "The Kingdom" it was D-Day, in "Tiara" it was the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. With the right characters, you can't miss.

What genre are your books?

Historical fiction, action/adventure and women's fiction.

What draws you to this genre?

Historical fiction because I need a compelling backdrop as the foundation for my story. Action/adventure fits my personality. Women's fiction is because my novels need to have something to say, a concept to convey.

How much research do you do?

It can be half of the workload. I sucked at math in high school, and was considered unqualified for Biology II as a result. Half a lifetime later, I have to make Sabrina believable as a chemistry expert. Plus there's all the background on Russian governmnetal protocols, the Russian and the Chechen drug gangs, and the NYPD. There are some days I do more reading than writing.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Sabrina Brooks is so believable she's unbelievable. She's the heiress of her deceased father's chemical company. She gave up her dreams of a career in law enforcement, yet couldn't let it go entirely. Her father's partner, Jon Aeppli, is skeptical that the spoiled party girl can turn it around. Yet she starts going to Church and displays her father's acumen in chemistry and his organizational skills. Soon she gets the idea of becoming a vigilante in high-crime neighborhoods, using chemical weapons to defend herself. She has a strong feminine side that is constantly conflicted by the things she is forced to do, and the novel has been widely accepted by critics as women's fiction. 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I think it'd be the ideal vehicle for an unknown actress. Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore or Gwyneth Paltrow might've worked, but Sabrina's about twenty-four. Any hunk could play Hoyt, as he's a two-dimensional character. Tom Hardy would've been great for The Reaper, but it'd look too much like a "Dark Knight Rises" knockoff. Maybe Brock Lesnar would make it happen.

Do you like to create books for adults?

My target audience is 18+, and that's mostly about language and violence. I don't do a lot of sex because I think it's gratuitous. If I need sex to sell my books then it's time to hang it up. I repent of being too realistic with dialogue, but I think the violence is no more or less what's required to create the necessary dynamics in the scene.

What do you think makes a good story?

There are four main ingredients in every JRD Brand novel: compelling backdrop, dynamic characters, snappy dialogue and a powerful ending. Without these components I have no story.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Most of the novels I've spewed out since last year have been marinating for over twenty years.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Out of the four Publish America and the eleven post-PA...damn!!! I'd go with "Tiara" as my fave because it was my first-born. As far as characters, I have to go with "Nightcrawler" and Sabrina Brooks. "The Kingdom" is also a magnificent piece of work (if I say so myself) that'll never get the recognition it deserves because of the subject matter. As one reviewer said, "I never thought I'd read a novel from the POV of an SS officer!"

What does your family think of your writing?

I'm shunned by both sides of my family. My mother's people are nouveau riche who consider me the black sheep. My Dad's people aren't wealthy but hold the same opinion. My sister and her son ripped me off for a half-million dollar inheritance. Boo hoo hoo.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

It's mostly fellow authors on review swaps, and I get nothing but praise. I've never had anyone who objectively read one of my books and thought it was crap.

Tell us about your book cover/s and how it/they came about.

I found the pic on the public domain and it fit perfectly. The grungy, shadowy alley was exactly where such a feminine silhouette is NOT supposed to be. Plus the posture was all about Sabrina's attitude. Frankly I don't know what I'll do for an encore.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

I certainly hope so. Back in the day, the cover for my band's (the Ducky Boys) 45 RPM record was considered a cult classic. Publish America did a decent job with my work during the 00's, and some of the recent ones were okay. You can't sell it if no one sees it--but try telling my publishers that.

How are you publishing and why?

This is going through Black Rose Writing, and they did a bang-up job with the cover as you can see (just so happened that I supplied the cover pic). I'm waiting to see what the royalties are before Night II goes to print. I've got a sinking feeling that it'll be going self-pub.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I'm signed up with ten small pubs right now, and not one of them have gotten me to where I could or should be. I started self-pubbing because I figured if I had to do all the work, why split the profits?

Would you or do you use a PR agency?

They'd need a lot more than some BS webpage and Madison Avenue jargon to get their hands in my pocket. I'd love to find an agent who believes in the JRD Brand, but of course that is what takes you to that Next Level.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Last year it was 80% writing, 20% promo. Now it's the opposite. With eleven books on sale, I don't need any more product. It's time to let people know it's out there.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I specialize in review exchanges. The quality of my reviews usually compels the other author to come up with an insightful opinion. Giveaways are perceived as what they are - people don't give out quality products for nothing, and some readers treat it for what it is. Soliciting book bloggers is just as risky - they can arbitrarily hammer your book on Amazon and the black mark is permanent.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

I hit the writers' websites regularly looking for authors to do review swaps with. I've been doing it for so long that I can get into the author's mind in discerning his message, his storyline and his motivation. I've had a couple of authors come back and compliment me for seeing an angle they hadn't noticed.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

The bad reviews I've had were from people who didn't like my message or felt compelled to beat me up for editing issues. That's water off the duck's back. By the same token, "Great book! Highly recommended!" is just as irksome because it tells me you didn't bother to read it.

Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?

I'm having enough problems dealing with Internet politics, let alone kissing up to the media here in KC.

What do you think of “trailers” for books?

I've thought about it, but I just haven't gotten into You Tube yet. I taped a lot of stuff for my rock band, The Spoiler, that is still collecting dust. I've got the ability and experience but just have to gear up for it. People have no idea what it takes to cut a quality promo, believe me.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I can't read a book onscreen. That's why I get dinged for typos and edits on some of my books. There's no point in laying off the blame on my editors. They've got an easier job than most Mayors around the country.

What book/s are you reading at present?

In order of interest: "Fight Club", "The Castle", "The Fiery Cross", "The Counterlife", and a James Joyce anthology (ugh).

What are you working on at the minute?

Nightcrawler II follows Sabrina as she resolves to cut back on her activities after Hoyt Wexford proposes to her. Only a joint project with a Russian government-sponsored firm begins to coincide with Hoyt's NYPD investigation of Mob activity along Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. Hoyt finds himself surrounded by corruption in the OCU yet is unwilling to expose his colleagues. It draws him ever closer to the middle of a drug war between Russian drug gangs, and Sabrina sees no way other than putting the Nightcrawler back on the field.  

What’s it about?

We've got three narratives: the manipulations and politics behind drug research, as the US and Russian governments make a half-hearted effort in assisting and monitoring the Brooks Chemical Comany's efforts in developing a serum to cure AIDS. There is also the negligence of Federal and City administrations in coordinating efforts in combating police corruption and Mob influence in local communities. The prevalent theme of gender is all about Sabrina coping in a man's world, struggling to keep control over the AIDS Project despite all the male influence, trying to give place to Hoyt as an alpha male police detective, and remaining active in her Church mnistry (as if there isn't enough on her plate).

So, what have you written?

The Standard (2013)

Destroyer (2nd Edition - 2013)

The Fury (2013)

Steamtown (2013)

Wolf Man (2013)

Nightcrawler (2013)

Tiara (10th Anniversary Edition - 2013)

The Bat (2013)

King of the Hoboes (2014)

Hezbollah (2014)

The Brand (2014)

The Kingdom (2014)

Vampire (2014)

Where can we buy or see them?

JRD's Author Page at Amazon!

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions, Mr. Dizon. 

You can connect with this author on Facebook.

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