Friday, November 22, 2013

Meet John J. Rust

Hello, and good morning to you all.  I have a special treat for you.   John J. Rust, author of thriller Dark Wings is here to discuss his book as well as what else is going on in his life.  Let's give him a warm welcome.

1.    What is the plot of Dark Wings?  What does the story mean to you? 

    “Dark Wingscombines two of my passions:  Military fiction and cryptozoology, the study of creatures whose existence has not been proven by science.  I’m talking Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the alleged brontosaurus in the Congo.  For this story, my bad guys are based on the legends of the Mothman from West Virginia and the Jersey Devil.  When they invade Earth, my main character, Delta Force operative Jim Rhyne, and his family form a resistance group to fight them.  As for what the story means to me, I feel one of the big themes is decision making.  So many times in fiction, the good guys always seem to make the right decision in every situation.  What if you find yourself in a situation where there is no absolute right or wrong decision?  What do you do when no matter what you decide, people are going to die?  These are the situations Jim Rhyne finds himself in.  It was interesting to explore what happens when a good man, a man who considers himself a protector of innocents, must make these difficult decisions.  Even when there is a clear cut right or wrong choice to makes, Rhyne sees that those, too, can have tragic consequences.

2.   Did you do any types of writing while you were in school?  If so did you receive any awards or recognition for your work?

     I wrote stories for my high school and college newspapers and lit magazines.  My senior year in high school I received came in first place in a county-wide essay contest on the benefits of a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.  I also began my fiction writing in earnest in high school and college.  My stories were mainly blow ‘em up, shoot ‘em up adventures involving secret agents and superheroes, which, if I were in school and writing them in today’s overly sensitive climate, would probably get me expelled and sent to a psychologist.

3.    Was there anyone, in your life who was an inspiration for you to write?   If so what did they do? 

     Not really.  I pretty much started writing on my own.  But the more I wrote, the more I took a closer look at many of the authors I was reading to examine their storytelling techniques.  Tom Clancy’s early works were a big inspiration to me, not only his attention to detail and all the research he put into his novels, but the way he showed how one little thing can cause a catastrophic failure and completely change the direction of not only one scene, but the entire story.  Another who influenced me was Stan Lee, mainly for his view on loading up his superhero characters with human qualities.  Alternate history master Harry Turtledove is a genius when it comes to telling a sweeping story through the eyes of diverse characters, everyone from world leaders to butlers.  Even the movie “Die Hard” influenced me, showing that sometimes you just have to really mess up your hero to make them more human.  

4.    What do you like to do when you are not writing? 

     Many things.  I exercise a lot.  I, of course, read a lot.  I enjoy watching sports, especially baseball, football and hockey.  Taking in concerts is another thing I enjoy doing.  Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Epica, Dropkick Murphys.  The louder the better.

5.  Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out? 

     My biggest advice would be just stick with it.  The only way you will get better is to keep writing.  Don’t get discouraged by rejection letters or bad reviews.  Writing is a passion.  Don’t let some stranger stop you from pursuing your passion because they didn’t like something you wrote.  Remember, Tom Clancy and JK Rowling were rejected by dozens upon dozens of publishers and agents before they hit it big.  Also, be open to constructive criticism.  The only way to improve your writing is to find out from others what works in your stories and what doesn’t.

6.    What should readers walk away from your books knowing? How should they feel? 

     That they just experienced one heck of an adventure.  I’d like them to feel for my characters, especially Jim Rhyne, a good man who is thrust into a war for survival and must make the hardest decisions you can ask any person to make.

7.    Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

     Buy “Dark Wings” and let me know what you think of it.

8.    What other authors do you follow? 

     As mentioned before, Tom Clancy and Harry Turtledove are two of my favorites.  I also enjoy Lee Child, Preston & Child, JK Rowling, Vince Flynn, Clive Cussler, John Birmingham, John Ringo, Jack Du Brul, Mack Maloney, who did the “Wingman” series.

9.    What has been your favorite part of being an author?  The least fave?  

     My favorite part is just the creative process, coming with plots and developing characters and new situations and worlds and weaving it all together in story.  My least favorite, writing a synopsis or a query letter.  How should I start it off?  What should I put in?  What should I leave out?  Will this catch a publisher’s or agent’s attention in two or three paragraphs?  Ugh!  Pain in the butt.

10. What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?  

     Can’t really think of one.

11. Do you have anything new in the works?  Can you share or is it a secret? 

     I’m putting the finishing touches on my first non-fiction book called “The Best Phillies Team Ever.”  This is where I come up with the all-time 25-man roster for the Philadelphia Phillies, one of my favorite baseball team.  On the fiction front, I’m revising what I hope to be the first book in a series about a former Army Ranger and his wildlife photographer girlfriend who search for mysterious creatures.

Here is an excerpt from Dark Wings:  

    Valerie reached the door first.  She twisted the knob and threw it open.
     A Mothman stood in front of her.
     Val gasped.  The monster stared at her.  Even with its inhuman face, Jim could make out an expression of shock.
     The monster brought up its rifle.
     Val swung her rifle, the butt striking the Mothman weapon.  It tumbled out of its clawed hands.  She drew back the rifle butt for another blow.  The Mothman swung its right arm, nailing Val in the gut.  She slammed against the open door, dropped her rifle and crumpled onto the walkway.
     “Val!”  Doug vaulted up the stairs and tackled the Mothman.  They both fell to the ground.
     That’s when a second Mothman appeared. 
     Chuck brought his rifle up to waist level, hands shaking.  The shot exploded in the confined space, rattling Jim’s skull.
     The round missed, but it got the second Mothman to turn toward them.  Jim raised his Ruger pistol and fired until it clicked empty.  The monster’s head snapped back.  It staggered and collapsed.
     Jim started moving before the Mothman hit the ground.  He rushed out the door and spied Val on the ground, clutching her ribs.  Doug and the first Mothman rolled on the ground.  The monster shrieked and pinned Doug on his back.
     Jim flipped his empty Ruger, clutching it by the warm barrel.  He raised the pistol over his head and brought it down on the Mothman’s shoulder.  The monster turned to him.  Jim pivoted to his side and kicked the Mothman in the face.  It fell on its side.
     Jim dropped his pistol and reached for his survival knife.  The Mothman rolled on its back and tried to push itself up.  Jim leapt on it and rammed the knife into its throat.  The monster went rigid.  He pressed his left hand on the Mothman’s hairy cheek.  Tensing, he snapped the monster’s head to the left, and yanked the knife in the opposite direction.  The Mothman’s throat ripped wide open, spewing a river of blood.
     Jim let out a long breath, the tension vanishing from his muscles.
     You’re not out of the woods yet.

Thanks for joining us today.  Don't forget to get your copy of Dark Wings.  Also before you go, check out John's links:

Stay tuned for my future authors.  I will be featuring Suzie Carr as she discusses her work and Diane Marina as she discusses  her f/f romance Landslide.

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