Author of the Week: John Crawley

John Crawley is author of seven books, including Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt, his first release from Caleb and Linda Pirtle. He provides us with a brief roadmap of his journey into the world of books and publishing. John, I know that you, like James Patterson, were a legend as a creative director in the advertising business. How did those early ideas for books work their way into your psyche.

John:  I had a very wonderful instructor at the University of Texas in Austin, who was the head of the creative writing track in the English department. His name was Cherry Watson. I wrote a short story for a class assignment and after reading them and grading them, professor Watson returned the work to the class, except mine. He had held my story back and said to the class that he was holding the finest example of writing he had seen in over 20-years of teaching. He then asked me to read it to the class. It was my short story, and I was floored. I think that was the day I realized I could become a writer.

John Crawley

VG.  How did that moment transcend into a career as an author.

John:  (Laughter) It took a while. Something like thirty years. After college, I worked in advertising, becoming a creative director on numerous national campaigns. But I was looking for more personal reward in my craft. (The pay was excellent but I wanted to re-ignite that spark of passion for the written word within me. To write a great TV commercial you only need between 35 and 60 words. Your job is done. I wanted more.)

So, I sat down and wrote a novel, Among the Aspen, and then promptly lost it. (I found it later on a computer desk in the bottom of a drawer. Whew! It is still my wife’s favorite of my books.) I followed that up with the first book of my Scott Keen trilogy, The House Next Door and as soon as I was finished with that, I penned Baby Change Everything. That was the book that really took off.  I got a New York publisher who paid me an advance and I got ready to become famous and rich. But the editor from the publishing house decided she wanted major changes in the book – changes I thought were not in line with the plot of the novel. I felt like her changes were being made for personal and political motivations. I told her so, as well as the publishing house’s president, as I retuned their check and got the rights of my book back. I was pretty low at this point, when a client, who was publishing a volume of poetry, told me about self-publishing.

VG:  And the rest, as they say, was history?

John:  Not quite. There were as many snakes in the weeds in self-publishing as there were working with the big houses on the East Coast. But I finally found a self-publisher who fit my style of work and I started putting out a book every year or so.

VG:  Up until now what was your biggest seller?

John:   It grows with every book. I have a good following now and I’ve learned a thing or two about marketing myself and my work. That helps. But, The Man on the Grassy Knoll is the one that has really ascended to new heights. It is a fictionalized interview with Raul Salazar, the second shooter from the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. It struck a chord and I’ve sold thousands of that work.

VG:  And that leads us to Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt, your current e-novella?

John:  Yes. And a new publisher, Caleb and Linda Pirtle, who has been wonderful in getting this work out.  We are concentrating now on ebooks because of their rapid sales and their ease to market. Folks are putting them on their tablets, Nooks, Kindles and iPads. I even have one fan who has my work on his iPhone. I hope he is not reading while driving. (Laughter.)

VG:  Tell us about Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt.

John: I read an article in the New York Times about the Supreme Court ruling against a man who had been wrongfully convicted and sent to death row for almost a decade and a half.  He was asking for reparations from the district attorney who had placed him in incarceration with faulty evidence and deceitful trial procedures.

Even the DA said there were problems with the conviction process, as did all the lower courts and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, but the Roberts-led Supreme Court ruled against this guy and I found it reprehensible. The novel came spewing out as a rebuttal to their callousness towards a man whom society had so wronged.

VG:  You added some twists, no?

John:  (Smiling) A few. In the book you are never sure if the main character is guilty or innocent until the very end. The story is told from many perspectives, the defendant, the trail lawyers, the investigators, all giving you a different set of scents to sniff through. But you still must sit as judge and jury as the reader. You, the reader, have a role in its outcome.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this story. But that’s what makes it fun.

John Crawley’s new release, the e-novella Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt is now available from Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

Coming soon from Caleb and Linda Pirtle is Crawley’s The Myth Makers and its sequel, Publish and Perish. Watch for them at Caleb and Linda Pirtle this spring.

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