Today, one of my favourite authors and literary friend, John W. Howell, is visiting my island oasis of creativity here in the Seomra Glas (the Green Room)!
John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.
John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets
Siân: Welcome once again, John! I see you’ve got a hankering for the simple beach experience and nothing too fancy – good choice!
John: I’m thinking it would be nice to go off and rough it for a while. I’m choosing a deserted tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific. I think I would like to be dropped off with a Zodiac, maybe ten miles off the coast. I would like the thrill of landing on the shore and having the first impressions of the what will be home for a while.
Siân: Spoken like a true beachcomber! Let’s get down to some desert island wool-gathering now. Can we take a quick peek at your disc selection for your self-imposed sabbatical, please? Where’s that checklist gone – ah, yes, here it is. Great taste, John!
- Queen ~ Bohemian Rhapsody
- Elvis in Concert
- Jackson Browne ~ Load out/ Stay
- Roy Orbison ~ Blue Bayou from Black and White Night
- Rolling Stones ~ Brown Sugar
- Apocolypse Now (movie)
- Man Of La Mancha (film musical)
- West Side Story (film musical)
Siân: Now, before we move onto the main event, I’m very curious about what you’ve chosen to take as your ‘luxury’ item to your desert island destination – that usually reveals a lot about you!
John: I think all I will need is a machete, small knife, matches in a waterproof container, a water purifying kit, some fishing line and hooks, and a first aid kit. I believe my stay will be about a month, so there isn’t much worry about starving to death. Water will be important as will the ability to build a shelter. I won’t really need to communicate with the world if my pickup is prescheduled. I suppose it would be good to take some sort of hand crank generator in case of emergencies. I would imagine having several battery packs for the phone, but the generator might be handy. I can’t think of anything else except a Gortex jacket and pants in case of tropical rains. I would listen to the songs which have been downloaded on my phone as well as watch the two movies.
Siân: I can put your mind at rest – mostly, with the power. We’ve got state of the art solar panels which are based on ‘cold climate’ technology to cope with all those exotic cloud formations you get in the tropics. Rainforests don’t grow without a lot of rainclouds! The hand cranker and wet weather clothing is a good move, though – some of those typhoons can get very rough indeed!
Now, let’s get up close and personal about your entertainment choices, John! I’m very partial to your first video myself!
John: When I wrote my first book My GRL I listened to two Queen CDs exclusively. Bohemian Rhapsody was playing when I finished the first draft. It always reminds me of that time when I hear it. It was a great feeling and one I don’t want to forget.
I first became aware of Elvis in 1955 while a freshman in High School. I grew up in Detroit and listened to some off-beat performers, and Elvis became the first mainstream star singing the kind of music I enjoyed. I always loved his concerts and attended one of his last which was almost twenty-two years after I became aware of him. It was a very moving performance and he died shortly after. His rendition of My Way absolutely brought tears to my eyes. The sad thing was he needed to have the words on a piece of paper since as he said, “I have trouble remembering words these days.” None of us cared and the performance left me drained.
Siân: He was an incredible singer and musician – a true icon. This next one was something of a surprise for me as, for some reason, Jackson Browne didn’t blaze out too much on my radar back in the day. This is such a wonderful number, though!
John: I used to do disc jockey work, and this song was one that allowed enough time to grab a cup of coffee and hit the restroom. It was like Don McLean’s American Pie in length. Also, the idea of thanking those who help make one a success is a thought that should never be forgotten. This includes the audience. We authors need to keep our readers in mind at all times. And be grateful for them.
I love Roy. This was a special night in his life, and if you know anything about Roy Orbison you know he had a challenging life. He was in poor health near the end, and the way all the stars came together to help with this special broadcast is heart warming.
Siân: He was such a legend, known and loved by so many other greats – he’s sorely missed still.
John: I used to use this song to pump myself up prior to giving speeches in the business world. I love the cowbell in this song, and it is a metaphor for getting the blood moving before a stressful situation.
Siân: Haha! I never noticed the cowbell before! Nothing like the Stones to get your feet stomping… Great driving music too – if there’s no speed traps around…
And now we’re going off to the movies!
John: This movie is an adaption of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. There are many lessons of life, and it is not necessarily just a war story. In fact, it is an anti-war chronicle. There are scenes that point out the ridiculous nature of war. The lesson is as we give up what we consider decent, moral behavior no matter how justified we inch into a dark place where return is impossible. This is a lesson we all must keep in mind especially in light of the current US administration.
Siân: Now, I have to admit that I’ve never actually seen Apocalypse all the way through, but it’s such an iconic and influential film with some great lines – and some Wagner thrown into the mix too. Awesomely weird!
John: This was a favorite play of mine. I saw it on Broadway and it struck a chord. The idea of chasing one’s dream is one that resonated with me. The idea is to chase that dream no matter who tries to show you how foolish you are. It may be impossible, but if one keeps the dream alive it may come true. This is especially good advice for writers. I did have a dream which some tried to say was foolish. I now have three books published and the dream is alive.
Siân: There’re some wonderful songs in there as well – I love Shirley Bassey’s version of Impossible Dream.
John: This play came out while I was in high school. It was a moving riff on Romeo and Juliet, and for me, it was the epitome of the angst that a teenager goes through trying to win approval of virtually everyone on the planet. There were those who would deny approval given your address and others by the nature of your clothes or skin color. I saw West Side Story as the tragic result of misunderstanding between people who should know better.
Siân: I’d imagine that seeing it on stage would really get the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention. The movie version was incredible too. And nice to be reminded of how many Oscars it won in the trailer!
And so, finally, we come to your reading choices!
John: I have dedicated the last few years of my reading life to only indy authors. I have found an amazing assortment of authors who are an inspiration. My list can’t be boiled to three so here goes. Gwen Plano and her book Letting Go Into Perfect Love; Mae Clair and her Point Pleasant series; Jan Hawke with Milele Safari; Jan Sikes and her Luke Stone series; Bette Stevens with Dog Bone Soup; Rhani D’Chai with Shadow of the Drill; John Fioravanti with his Genesis series; Charles Yallowitz with Legends of Windemere series;, Craig Boyack with The Playground; and Harmony Kent with everything she writes.
Siân: Aha! Now, this should be the bit where I get all heavy with you and only let you take 3 authors’ work along with you… However, I really can’t fault any of your choices here and, as you’ve made Jan Hawke go bright pink with amazement that Milele Safari made your long-list, we’ll let you have them all! The only one I’m not too familiar with is Charles Yallowitz’ Legends of Windemere books, so perhaps we could start with him and the reason why they’re all going into your haversack?
John: Charles and I started blogging about the same time and, for whatever reason, we both enjoy the other’s work. The main reason I need to take Charles’ books is that in the time I wrote three, he wrote thirteen. I have fallen hopelessly behind and hope to finish his series while on the island. The rest of the books are ones that I would like to read again, so I figure that with time in between Charles’ books I will be able to enjoy the others at my leisure. This applies to all but Harmony. Hers have been on my TBR, and I need the time on the island to get them done.
Siân: Harmony’s books are always a real treat – I’ve given up trying to decide which one is my favourite! John, thank you so much for sharing your desert island ‘must haves’ with us – I hope you enjoy the rest of your ‘getting away from it all’ escape, entwined with all your favourite things!
John J. Cannon, a successful San Francisco lawyer, takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. John is unaware his boat has been targeted by a terrorist group to be used to destroy a symbol of America’s greatness. John’s first inkling of trouble is when he wakes up in the hospital and learns he was found unconscious next to the body of the young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now is the only one standing between the terrorists and the success of their mission.
America loves John Cannon, its newest hero, and the President wants to present him with the highest civilian medal for bravery for saving the Annapolis midshipman from a terrorist plot to destroy them. While in Washington for the award ceremony, John unwillingly becomes an accomplice in another plan by the same group to attack the credibility of the US President and the stability of the worldwide oil market. There is no way out as John either becomes a traitor to America or causes thousands of innocent people to die if he refuses.
The second John J Cannon Thriller moves from a barrier Island off the coast of Texas to Washington DC, then to Northern California, and finally to Ecuador. John is on the receiving end of an offer he cannot refuse. His avowed enemy Matt Jacobs now wants John to help him shake the reputation of the US in the world political arena. If John refuses, Matt plans to murder innocent Americans including John’s latest relationship. John’s only way out is to pretend to go along with the plan and hope for a miracle.
The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.
The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers? John, Matt or neither?