Today I welcome prolific writer, John Theo Jr. to Jubilee Writer. He’s going to talk about his latest release and the writing life. First, John tell us briefly about your writing journey.
I started writing for fun in high school but did not take it seriously until after college. I worked on my own craft for a few years before entering graduate school where I received an MFA in creative writing. Since then I’ve published in non-fiction (magazines), taught writing at the college level, and had six fiction books published. My books vary as much as my interests. From young adult fantasy, murder mystery, government conspiracy, to dystopian sci fi.
Sounds like you have many genres you love and a vivid imagination. What’s your latest published project.
My latest release is Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus. It is a sequel to 2016’s Mission Trip. To accompany the launch I’ve published a prequel novella, Clarke. Both are available online or at WWW.JOHNTHEO.COM
I’m always curious how authors do their research for their stories. How do you do yours
Writers have always been told to “write about what you know”. I know sci fi quite well as I spent many years of my childhood reading comics and watching sci fi movies. I utilized every “nerd molecule” of my being on this tale. Even though the book is set in the distant future I utilized a lot of current events. Science fiction is notorious for taking current events and placing them into a futuristic setting. One of the first (and arguably most famous) interracial kisses on TV was done in 1968 on an episode of Star Trek. At the time the culture barely noticed as it was technically “500 years” in the future.
Every story starts as a germ of inspiration. What inspired you to write your book?
Over the past decade Christians have become the most persecuted class of people on the planet (according to PEW research). US Christians are starting to see this persecution trickle in. For example, legal persecution of believers in the US has evolved into numerous church shootings. This got me thinking about the Pilgrims and their reason for leaving Europe in the 1600s to flee to the new world. Mission Trip is a “what if” story. What level of persecution would it take for Christians to flee the US, and where would they go? At its core, Mission Trip is a futuristic retelling of the Pilgrims story.
Fascinating. I love the premise. A bold challenge to people of faith. Now let’s move away from your book and ask when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
I always had a creative side, but didn’t realized I wanted to tell stories until I was leaving high school and came to the conclusion I wasn’t passionate about much else.
Passion is a wonderful motivator for a writer. I always like to ask those who visit my blog what scripture resonates with them. What is yours?
A favorite life verse for me over the past few years has been Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I have been through a lot of life changes over the past few years (mostly bad), which God has used for good in miraculous ways.
The verse in my novel that resonates with me the most is line at the end when the protagonist (Landon) realizes God performed miracles to save Landon’s son, but did not spare His own son. At this point Landon’s “arc” is complete and he has healed from his past trauma.
“He had not spared His only son, but made a point to spare Landon’s. It was as if Landon fully understood the cross of Christ for the first time.”
Love the insight. John, if you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
There is a lot I would tell a younger version of myself about life, but as far as the craft of writing it would be one simple thing….find a mentor. This is so important, and could shave years off someone’s learning curve.
Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?
Ironically, no one in my life is a writer so no one really understands what it’s like to be a writer. Long story short, I am very self-motivated.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
As of today, I would say non-fiction. I never thought I’d migrate from action, and sci fi books into non- fiction but I’ve become a huge fan of US History, especially old historical books for young adults.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’d love to say at my desk at home sipping a cup of tea as the snow falls outside the window, but I have three energetic kids under the age of eight, so that romantic notion doesn’t exist. They are my “lovable efficiency killers”. I would say at work. My wife and I moved out of the hectic northeast to buy a small business down south allowing us to be together as a family more. The burst of small time I have in between customers forces me to by hyper focused. Some writers need three hour long windows to write in. Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus was literally written in twenty minute increments.
You are certainly driven to get words on paper. Bravo for you.
Tell us about your screenplays and other writing projects.
I’ve written multiple screenplays, but currently I’m marketing only two of them with my agent Pierre Rumpf.
Nicky and the Saint, A Christmas Story is a screenplay about the historic Saint Nicholas and a modern-day boy named Nicky, and how their symbiotic “hero’s journey’s” overlap. The trailer (or sizzle reel) is here:
Christmas by The Sea is a straight up Hallmark Channel-esque romance set in a quaint New England seaside town. Unlike other made-for-television Christmas movies I instilled some comedy, and even a little action to broaden the audience base. The sizzle reel is here:
Christmas seems to be a theme in a lot of my writing. I guess it’s the kid in me.
SERIES: This is the sequel to “Mission Trip”, Clean Reads Press 2016.
BOOK TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1LBjsWLBbY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Theo, Jr. has published numerous articles in New England based newspapers and magazines, and has taught screenwriting at the college level. Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus is his fifth fiction novel and the sequel to 2016’s Mission Trip (Clean Reads Press). John holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. For more information on John check out http://www.johntheo.com.
More About John’s novel Mission Trip, Gensis And Exodus
Can an imprisoned son and a redeemed technocrat rescue humanity.
BACK COVER BLURB:
Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus is the sequel to Mission Trip. In 2077 doctor Kyle Faison remains trapped on the west coast of New America with a group of villagers he came to help. His father, Landon, races from their hidden underwater city to rescue his son. When Kyle goes missing Landon tracks him to the city of New Sacramento, where a charismatic leader holds him captive. Landon must find a way past an army of soldiers to reach Kyle before the onset of another nuclear war.
The origin of the underwater city known as the Atoll is revealed in a prequel flashback woven throughout the story. In 2040, technocrat Josiah Saunders has wealth and power and invests much of his resources into life extension technology. He ruins countless lives trying to reach this goal. The combination of a hostile takeover by his competitor, and a failed assassination attempt, send Josiah fleeing into the subway system of New York where he is attacked and left for dead. The narcissistic man soon realizes God has other plans for him, but first he must be broken and rebuilt as a new creature.
The next morning, an explosion woke Josiah from his light sleep. The building moved slightly.
“Open daylight,” he said, throwing aside the silk sheets.
The tinted windows in the penthouse bedroom cleared, revealing the gray early morning skyline of New York. Nothing looked different. Had he dreamed of the explosion? A moment later, flaming debris flittered down outside the windows. Josiah’s stomach dropped, as if following the debris toward the street below.
The speaker on his data pad chirped. “Coming up to get you.” It was Ross. “We’re under attack. This isn’t a drill.”
Josiah panicked for a moment before he remembered all the reinforcements and safety measures the building had. It would withstand multiple attacks from a varied assortment of artillery and biological warfare. But why hadn’t the alarms kicked in? He threw on a pair of dress pants, shoes, and a sweater, and grabbed his tablet. He wasn’t going to wait for Ross. Before Josiah left the apartment, he glanced one last time out the living room window. There were two sparks of light a few miles in the distance. Trails of smoke followed the flashes through the early morning skyline.
The tablet in his hand spoke in a calm male voice. “Warning. Incoming rockets.
Wow! You’ve got my attention. Thanks for being my guest today, John. Those who love dystopic novels are going to love this one.
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