Check This Out: Eternal Road

Today on the blog I’m happy to have the one and only John Howell here to talk about his latest novel, Eternal Road. It was published on August 23. Go here to read a synopsis of the book. Now, give it up for John!

  

John: Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Linda. I certainly appreciate being here with you.

El Space: My pleasure, John. Four quick facts about yourself?
John: 1. I write every day.
2. I’ll be 80 years old in the spring.
3. I am a pantster and do not outline my work.
4. When I begin a novel, I write the last three lines and then go back and write to that conclusion.

El Space: Groovy! What inspired you to write this book? I can’t help thinking of a film from 1978 called Heaven Can Wait. The premise of that film is nothing like your book. But the life-after-death aspect of your book made me think of it.
John: I wanted to do a historical fiction novel. While I was doing the research, I wrote a short story that started with a couple hitchhiking, and then as the characters came alive, it went in a different direction. Sam, the female protagonist, is reminiscent of a childhood friend who moved away. James, the male protagonist, exhibits the feelings I had as a boy when I lost my childhood friend. She did eventually die when we were both 30. The story is pretty much a way of coming to grips with that double loss so many years ago.

El Space: I have to ask if there is a story behind the use of a 1956 Oldsmobile. Please shed light on that.
John: When I was in high school, a neighbor had a 1656 Oldsmobile identical to the car on the cover. I used to wash and wax that car and fell in love with it. I wanted to honor those memories somehow, so the vehicle is in the story as a tool for Sam and James.

El Space: Time travel also is an aspect of the story. What are some of your favorite time travel stories?
John: I’ve read and seen so many, but I have to say The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is my favorite. Another one was on The Twilight Zone, where a successful guy went back in time to start over for the thrill of building an empire all over again. He went back to the time before the automobile and tried to get people to help him make one. Of course, no one had the skills, so his trip (and deal with the devil) is a waste.

    

El Space: C. S. Lewis once mentioned,

All my seven Narnian books . . . began with seeing pictures in my head. At first, they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe] all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.

When you think of developing a story, which comes first for you—images in your head? The characters? The plot?
John: This is like asking a golfer if they inhale or exhale before their swing. Let me think a moment. I think my stories come about as a result of the images in my head first. These images can be relatively sparse and only a partial picture of what will become the full story. After the images, I then concentrate on the characters. The characters guide the story, and as they develop, they have a hand in developing the plot. Many times, the characters will create plot points by merely acting the way they usually would behave. In Eternal Road, a massive scene develops in the basement of a house due to following the instincts of the two characters. They are in the place and want to look in the basement. I had not planned to have them discover something there until one character all of a sudden said, “I wonder what we will find in the basement.”

El Space: What genre would you love to tackle that you haven’t yet?
John: I would love to write a pure Science Fiction book. I think it would be fun to create a futuristic world complete with political and social infrastructure. At this point, I’m not sure if it would be a thriller type of Sci-fi story or not. I do think the characters would have to be from Earth and on a mission of some sort. I would hope the mission would be one that, if accomplished, the Earth would be better off. Maybe something like word has been received that the inhabitants of a nearby system have discovered the cure for Cancer. The mission would be to go to a planet and bring back the cure. Of course, it would not be all that easy. Maybe the therapy only works on those who carry the DNA of ancient space travelers who visited the Earth many centuries ago. Everyone else who gets vaccinated for the disease dies. Well, I guess it would be a thriller after all.

El Space: Wow that sounds great! Hope you write that book someday. In the meantime, what will you work on next?
John: I had not intended to extend Eternal Road into a series. There have been a couple of reviewers who flatly state that it should be a series. I was going to get to work on a long-awaited story of one of the characters in my John Cannon Trilogy. His name is Ned Tranes, and he is the police chief of Port Aransas, Texas. Now I think Ned’s story is going to wait another year. He is very patient since he has been waiting for three years already. The last encounter we had, Ned’s wife, was taken hostage by a band working for the drug cartel. You know nothing good can come from that. Well, let’s hope they treat his wife nicely until we can get back to set her free.

 

El Space: Oh dear.
John: So I think I will jump in and write book two of Eternal Road.

Good idea! Thank you, John, for hanging out with me.

Looking for John? Check his blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon.

Looking for Eternal Road? Click here!

One of you will find a copy of Eternal Road on your device or in your mailbox. Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner to be announced on September 30.

Other books by John:

 

Author photo and Eternal Road book cover courtesy of John Howell. Eternal Road book cover by Roseanna White Designs. Other book covers from Goodreads. Twilight Zone logo from Bloody Disgusting. Heaven Can Wait movie poster from RogerEbert.com.Sci-fi image from wallpaperup.com.

67 thoughts on “Check This Out: Eternal Road

  1. Reblogged this on Fiction Favorites and commented:
    I’m so pleased to be with L. Marie today as she graciously gives me the opportunity to visit and discuss Eternal Road – The final stop. She asks some very good questions and I appreciate the opportunity to provide the answers. Thank you again, L. Marie. It is a real pleasure.

  2. Super interview, John. I really enjoyed learning more about your writing process, and the back story on that fabulous car! (My kinda vehicle! 😀 )Thanks for having him over today, L. Marie. Lovely post! 🙂

  3. John, I am thoroughly delighted that there is gong to be a sequel to Eternal Road. I like Ned, but I really liked James and Sam and the idea behind Eternal Road. It’s a fantastic read, that deserves a follow-up 🙂

    I’m also really impressed that you write the last three lines of your books first and then write to that conclusion.

    And,finally, I think you will be 80 years young in the spring! 😀

  4. L. Marie, the most striking thing about your interview with John is how he starts writing: “When I begin a novel, I write the last three lines and then go back and write to that conclusion.”

    John, I also enjoyed the trailer – a snippet is all you need to sense the era and the mood. I believe my husband owned an Olds of similar vintage. Ah, those were the days!

    Thank you, both!

  5. Wonderful interview, dear John! The new plot is intriguing! I think it would be great to write a book alike “2020 bedlam….Afterwards”. It might come out a true surrealistic thing 🙂 🙂 🙂 80’s anniversary? Hmmm…your shiny soul is too young for this date…but the party might be great indeed 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. How exciting to learn that you will turn “Eternal Road” into a series! I loved all of your answers, John. Learning about the significance of the ’56 olds and your personal childhood experiences, that enhance the story! Thank you, L. Marie, for the fabulous interview!

  7. Great interview. I always like to discover the methods and mechanics of how people write. Of particular interest is the way John begins his books by writing the final three sentences first.

  8. I understand very well John , at first because we have the same age ( I am some years older ).
    I remember also friends or parents who died at this time – for example : 1956- but never forgotten. The old car is also a symbol of this time
    Continue John, you are on the good road. And thanks also to you, Linda who launched this interview.
    In friendship
    Michel

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