Author Q and A with John Connolly

November 24, 2010

John Connolly (website | Twitter | Facebook) is a best selling author, journalist and radio show host.  I was introduced to John’s work while reading “The Gates” (book review) a supernatural book, completely out of my genre which I absolutely loved.

John has kindly agreed to answer a few questions to the Author Q&A feature, his skillful narrative and sense of humor are evident as you will soon see.

Q. The Gates introduces very complex scientific theories in simple language.  How did you work out that process? Did you have help?
A.
Well, I think my journalistic experience helped a little there, as I was used to talking to experts in their field, and then finding a way to make their knowledge understandable to the general reader, whether that was in business, politics, science, or the arts.  In the end, I read an awful lot on the subjects upon which the book touched, particularly physics, and then tried to find a way to make these complex ideas comprehendible without compromising the truth of them, which is always a danger.  Once the draft was done, a lovely academic named Dr Colm Stephens, who is an expert on CERN and teaches at the Physics Department in Trinity College, Dublin, went through the science and corrected my more grievous errors.  There weren’t too many, though, I’m happy to say.

Q.  How do you write? Do you do an outline or just start typing?
A.
I’m of the ‘just start writing’ school.  I’ll usually know how the book begins (although that may not always stay as the beginning: what started out as the first chapter of THE WHISPERERS eventually found its place about halfway through the finished book), and maybe one or two incidents along the way.  After that, I start writing, but I write fairly slowly, which I suppose allows the story space and time to percolate during those periods when I’m not at my desk.  I would get very bored if I did a comprehensive outline before I began writing.  I prefer the process of discovering the book through the writing.

Q. “The New Daughter”, a 2009 film (film website | John’s column on the movie), was based on one of your short stories. Were you involved in the filming process? How was the experience?
A.
No, I had nothing to do with it at all.  I don’t play well with other children, and film-making is a collaborative process.  Also, writers who get involved in the filming of their work often find themselves disillusioned by the end, or at best worn down by the ubiquitous ‘notes’ that everybody involved feels compelled to force upon the writer.  In the end, the film got made, and everybody got paid, which is good.


Q. Some of your book covers have a similar theme (“The Gates”, “The Book of Lost Things”, “Nocturnes”), is that on purpose? Do you have any say in the cover design?
A.
Writers have as much say in the cover design as they choose to have, and I do involve myself in the process.  For the early UK covers, I sourced a lot of the illustrations, and I’ll often suggest icons or images for the design teams to consider.  My publishers are very good about running ideas by me, and when I’ve rejected them they’ve gone back and started again, but I’ve always tried to find an alternative if I don’t like what has already been done, rather than simply saying “No!”

Q. You are active on the Social Media front. How do you find the experience? Any positive/negative experiences in book promotions?
A.
I think anything that allows writers to reach out to readers, and vice versa, is generally for the best.  The difficulty for me is that it can be a bit time-consuming, and my priority is getting the books written.  I’m probably not on Facebook, Twitter and the like as often as some readers might like, but it really is a question of rationing out time so that the writing of the books doesn’t suffer.

Shameless plug disguised as a wise ass question: Why do you love ManOfLaBook.com so much and often visit the website?
Wise Guy Answer: Because you are wise and powerful, like the Great Oz.  And, hey, one of the great things about social media is that you discover websites and people about which you might not otherwise have known.  There’s always something new to be discovered…

Thanks John for answering, I look forward to reading more of your books.

Zohar – Man of la Book

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3 Comments

  • Chelle November 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Great interview! I picked up The Book of Lost Things at the store last year and was pleasantly surprised. I loved it! I plan to read it again some time.

    • zohar November 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks Celle, I’m looking forward to reading it as well.

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