Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interview with John Holt

Interview with John Holt,
Author of The Thackery Journal

Questions: R. Murry

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Firstly let me say a big thank you Roy, for giving me this opportunity. I hope that you and anyone reading this enjoy it, and hopefully gain something from it.
I was born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. I currently live in Essex with my wife, Margaret, and my daughter Elizabeth. 

For many years I was a Chartered Surveyor in local government. I was a Senior Project Manager with the Greater London Council until it was closed down in 1986. I then set up my own surveying practice, preparing architectural plans for extensions, and new houses. I had a heart attack in 2004, and vastly reduced my work load, and eventually retired in 2008.
I had always wanted to write a novel but could never think of a good enough plot. My first novel, The Kammersee Affair, published in 2006, was inspired by a holiday in Austria. 

We were staying in Grundlsee. The next lake, Toplitzsee, was used by the Germans during the war to test rockets, and torpedoes. There were rumours of gold hidden in that lake. Despite extensive searches the gold was never found. In my book, however, it is found, only in the next lake, Kammersee.
The books that followed, The Mackenzie File, The Marinski Affair, Epidemic, and A Killing In The City. all feature Tom Kendall, a down to earth private detective. In August 2012 I decided to go down the self-published route, and formed my own publishing brand PHOENIX..

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

I suppose it must have been whilst at school. I wrote a story about a small settlement in Australia, and how it developed into a town. The story covered a period of about 100 years, and was told in a half a dozen hand written pages. 

Needless to say it was never published. I wonder what happened to that manuscript. In the early sixties I used to write articles, and reviews for a couple of magazines specializing in Negro Blues. Both magazines no longer exist, and with their demise gone to are my articles.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I was brought up on Enid Blyton. Every week my father would bring home the latest copy of the Enid Blyton magazine. Sadly not very fashionable now, but the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, would keep me occupied and entertained for hours. 

Later it was Alastair Maclean, and Hammond Innes, who provided the excitement. Then Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. But did any of these fine authors inspire me? Maybe, but I certainly have never tried to copy their style.

What do you like about writing a story?

I got a lot of enjoyment out of readers the novels of the people mentioned above. To enter into a different world and meet exciting people, and encounter dangerous adventures whilst in the safety of your own home. 

I get that same kind of enjoyment from creating my own works. I hope that others get that same enjoyment.

Can you tell us about your book?

I normally write Private Detective novels, and so far I have four self published.
My latest novel "The Thackery Journal" is quite a departure, and a long way outside my comfort zone. It is an Historical Fiction novel set during the American Civil war. It is a "What If" novel regarding the assassination of Lincoln. 

I have been working on it, on and off for about four or five years. During that time it has gone through a few changes. My first book, “The Kammersee Affair” is about the search for Nazi gold. Whilst researching I found an article about some Confederate gold that went missing as the Civil war came to an end. 

I thought that could be the basis of a fairly good story, and that was the start of “The Thackery Journal.” So I had the missing god, and I knew that somebody had taken it. I wondered how that person would feel as his pursuers closed in. So the final chapter of “Thackery” was written. That chapter, written many years ago, has basically remained unchanged, even though the rest of the story has.

What genre best fits for the book?

Historical Fiction

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I am currently working on two more Tom Kendall novels and I have made a tentative start on an Adventure novel. I also have some ideas for another American Civil War novel. I’m rethinking the missing gold item.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

The main tip I can give is write for nobody but you. There will be a lot of people who will like your work (we hope), but there will be a lot of people who hate it. 

You cannot please everyone all of the time, so don’t even try. As long as you like what you have written, that’s good enough, if someone else likes it that’s a bonus.

Where can people go to read your work?

I have a few chapters from my novels over on Wattpad - My latest novel "The Thackery Journal" is a "What If" novel regarding the assassination of Lincoln.

I have a web site, although I don’t use it that often - http://johnholt1943.blogspot.co.uk/

Do you have anything to add?

I realized pretty quickly that the chances of being published by one of the traditional publishers was pretty remote. I wasn’t a celebrity chef, or a footballer, or a TV personality. Eventually I was published by Raider Publishing International in New York. Sounds impressive yes? 

Well Raider is a vanity publisher, and I paid them to get published. Nonetheless it was a good feeling to have my work in print. The contracts were very short, and when they ran out I did not renew. I decided to take the Self-Publishing route. With the likes of Lulu.com, Createspace, and KDP, it is now so easy, and at no cost. With the help of friends on Facebook, and Twitter, it has worked out reasonably well, and I wish I had done it a lot sooner.

So thank you once again Roy. It is very much appreciated.


  1. Great interview Roy & John. I can heartily recommend all John's books.

  2. Interesting and entertaining interview, John & Roy. Which doesn't surprise me in the slighest as all John's books are interesting and very entertaining too.

    Good luck with the tour, John.


  3. Thanks Babs - you have always been a great supporter, and I'm so grateful for your friendship

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Lorna thanks for your comment. Glad you liked it. Say hello to Alan for me

  5. Fascinating to get so much detail about your writing career, John. I learnt a lot and enjoyed doing so! I love Tom Kendall – great to know there are two more books in the pipeline. Thanks for this interview, Roy.

    1. Hi Gerry - glad you enjoyed the interview. I'm about halfway through one of the Kendall. just having a few problems lately and finding it difficult to get into some writing.