Today I’m honored to welcome John R Cameron to the book blog to discuss his novel, The Second Lives of Honest Men, a prescient vision of where society’s dependence on technology could be taking us.
It’s a character driven story about love, redemption, and hope, with deep philosophical underpinnings related to how we think, feel, and reason in a world where it’s ironically easy to feel disconnected.
A big thank you to John for including us on his virtual book tour, and for offering the chance to win one of five signed copies of The Second Lives of Honest Men. (Stay with us to the end of the interview to enter.)
KB: What inspired you to write your latest book?
JRC: I was sitting with a friend, watching television. We were discussing the idea that we'd all become slaves to a system that was beyond our control. At that moment, an advertisement for Spielberg's Lincoln appeared. I made an off the cuff remark, saying, "That's what we need - Abe Lincoln to come fix our society, and end slavery again." Let's just say that the idea stuck.
KB: How did you come up with the title?
JRC: It struck me one day while I was driving - and it just seemed to fit perfectly. It sure beat the working title, The Chronicle of the 2nd Coming of Abraham Lincoln - Yikes. That was a mouthful!
KB: I think you made the right choice there, John. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
JRC: Can 'everything' be an answer? I think writing it was easy - it's what came after that was hard. From learning to listen to other people's advice throughout the editing process, to coming to grips with the world of publishing, and everything that's involved. Maybe the hardest part was staying focused to see it through to the end.
KB: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
JRC: That I'm only human, fallible, and I don't know everything, after all.
KB: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
JRC: That we should be questioning everything about the world we live in - although we were born into it, we didn't create it, and if we sit back and let it unfold around us, we've already failed in our primary purpose - to shape the future into a better place.
KB: How much of the book is realistic?
JRC: The book takes place in the future, but I feel I've painted a very poignant picture of what our society, fifty years evolved, could be.
KB: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
JRC: Absolutely. I was in a fairly dark place for awhile, and that translates into the both the narrative, and the characters. My book is fiction - but it is also, in a very real way, me. Who I was, who I am, and who I hope to be.
KB: What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
JRC: I'd say it's a mix of both - I began writing the book when a lot of plot elements fell into place in my head, but I let creativity and the natural progression of my character's logical decisions drive the story. I'm fortunate to be able to type very quickly, which means I can often outpace my thought process. It's allowed for some wonderful, naturally occurring moments of true creativity when I write. I couldn't see myself strictly following a pre-formed plot outline, though I know some truly amazing pieces of literature have come from that process.
KB: What were the challenges (research, literary, and logistical) in bringing this book to life?
JRC: All of the above certainly apply. My biggest concern was making sure that Abraham Lincoln's character came across realistically - this meant a lot of research into who he was (beyond what I already knew), the world he lived in, and how he carried himself as a human being. I specifically made sure that none of the words or phrases he used were etymologically incorrect - which was a challenge in and of itself.
KB: Give us an insight into your main character.
JRC: Jacob Wentworth is a Humanities Professor who has unhappily settled into a world he has no control over. He lives his life apart from others, and might be considered a 'modern Luddite' - eschewing technology and separating himself from the ever-present ease of the Online world. He's someone who believes in right and wrong, and has fundamental, concrete ideas of what those two opposing ideas consist of - and he's the type of person who thinks he's got it all figured out. He's a deeply flawed man in an equally flawed world, and his journey is one of fundamental enlightenment and redemption.
KB: How long did it take you to write this book?
JRC: I began writing in November of 2012. The first draft took me two months, then I began an extensive editing and peer review process, taking me through five additional drafts. In total, about a year. However, this was my first novel, and a good deal of this time was lost to the learning curve.
KB: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book?
JRC: Daniel Day Lewis, who else? Of course if we consider the Professor as the main character, I would love to see someone like Morgan Freeman, or Harrison Ford, take the role. James Earl Jones could easily bring life to Jacob Wentworth, too. Clint Eastwood would be an interesting choice, also.
KB: What are you working on now?
JRC: I'm working on the sequel, under the working title, The Old Crow.
KB: What book are you reading now?
JRC: David Copperfield, though it feels like I've been reading it forever.
KB: What books have most influenced your life?
JRC: Many books have touched me in different ways. My first love of classic literature was Charles Dickens, and I suppose A Tale of Two Cities is the one I've enjoyed the most. I love Vonnegut, and Slaughterhouse V is one of my favorites. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird surely rates up at the top of my list. My two favorites, which anyone could easily deduce after reading my book, are Orwell's 1984, and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
KB: Those are two of my favorites, too. I'm getting very excited about getting started on The Second Lives of Honest Men. What books/authors have influenced your writing?
JRC: I think Dickens comes to mind. His method of storytelling is what I like to call 'lullaby' writing - it's like he's sitting beside you, whispering the narrative in your ear. His prose is undulating, and rhythmic, and it's something I've tried very hard to emulate - though with more of a modern sense of style. He's also a master at tweaking the emotions of his audience, and I think that's a very important skill if one wants to be a great writer.
KB: Do you have any advice for other writers?
JRC: Don't give up, but also be realistic. If you've written eight books, and can't get anyone to read them, there's probably a reason for that. The hardest part is learning to learn - be willing to take the advice of others - particularly if more than one person is pointing out the same problem. Hone your skills, and don't stop - ever.
KB: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
JRC: I've only written one book - and it crosses so many genres that I find it difficult to even explain what it is. I'd really like to try my hand at writing something totally off-the-wall, absurdist, and insane. (I'll marathon read all of Vonnegut's classics before I start.)
KB: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
JRC: Read The Second Lives of Honest Men, and I guarantee you'll answer that question for yourself by the end of the Prologue.
KB: Intriguing. Though maybe I can make an educated guess already! What are your ambitions for your writing career?
JRC: I'd love to be a full time writer, making enough money that I can live modestly. The dream is to wake up in the morning, write all day long, and be able to afford to put food on the table and a roof over my head with whatever revenue I can generate through my words. Mind you, I wouldn't shake a stick at Stephen King-esque earnings, either.
KB: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
JRC: If I have the full day to hack away, my goal is always 5,000 words or more.
KB: What is the hardest thing about writing?
KB: What is the easiest thing about writing?
JRC: See answer to previous question.
KB: I can relate. Some days one paragraph is harder than the previous day's 5000 words. Finally, where can we find you online?
Website/Blog: http://www.johnrcameron.com/ http://www.embracetheirony.com/
Twitter: @EmbraceTheIrony https://twitter.com/EmbraceTheIrony
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-Cameron/e/B00GIML6HK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Amazon Book Pages:
To follow John on his online book tour and view the schedule, Go HERE.
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