Interview with John Pearce,
Author of Treasure of Saint-Lazare
Questions by Author Roy Murry
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I'm a lover of Paris -- I call myself a Part-Time Parisian. For a while I even had a blog by that name, until I discovered I couldn't blog about Paris, write a novel about it, and do justice to both. My wife Jan and I live in Sarasota for nine or ten months of the year, with the rest of the year reserved for Paris. For my blog, I make do with http://johnpearceauthor.com/
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Treasure of Saint-Lazare is the first work of fiction I’ve completed. Years ago I started a spy novel but had the sense to drop it before it embarrassed me. I still have the notes. But I've been a writer a very long time, in daily journalism and magazines. I was the Washington economics reporter for The Associated Press and then worked for the International Herald Tribune, covering business and finance in the German-speaking countries, when we lived in Frankfurt.
Were you inspired by someone or something?
Like most aspiring writers of my generation, I was inspired by John Le Carré. I still am, although I think he was more comfortable with cold-war stories.
What do you like about writing a story?
I like the act of creation, of making a new world that meshes smoothly with reality.
Can you tell us about your book?
Treasure of Saint-Lazare is a historical mystery whose basic question is, "What if some really bad guys were convinced you knew where a priceless work of art was hidden and would do anything to find it, including murder?" It's based on Raphael’s painting "Portrait of a Young Man," which was stolen by the Nazis in 1939 and disappeared in 1945 while it was being shipped from Poland to Munich. The book is set in Sarasota and Paris, mostly Paris, and it has a pretty strong romantic feeling. One reviewer said he'd never been to Paris until he read the book. That made my day.
What genre best fits for the book?
Treasure of Saint-Lazare has some thriller elements, although it’s really a mystery. I was pleased when it reached #25 on the Kindle historical mysteries best-seller list. It's available in Kindle, paperback and audiobook editions.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
I'm almost finished writing a sequel, whose working title is Last Stop: Paris. Editing and pre-publication marketing will take several months, but it should be out this year. My third novel, a prequel, should be out next year, because I’ll be able to work on it while other people help market the sequel. I’ll be sure to come back to you to ask for pre-publication reviews.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Write. Sit down and stay in your chair. No other advice has any value if you can't do that. Then finally, when you’re pretty sure you have done the best work you can, put it away for a month or two and work on something else. Weak spots that would be invisible in the heat of creation will jump off the page.
After you're satisfied with the editing, have it meticulously proofed by someone else. Your goal should be to have zero typos, whether you're seeking an agent or planning to publish yourself. Typos are death for a self-published book.
Where can people go to read your work?
For now, it’s on Amazon, although I will probably broaden the distribution in June. The Sarasota Public Library bought three copies, so if you live in my town you can find it there. And any bookstore can order the paperback from the Ingram catalog. The audiobook was done by ACX, an Amazon subsidiary.