Today we sit down with John Howell, author of the John J. Cannon series and wonderful blogger. John gives us some great insight into his writing as a craft and as a business.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at


1)    Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I must say there are times when I experience both. When I’m having a particularly tough time with a plot point, I feel as if I have gone ten rounds with a welterweight. I’m not just talking mental tiredness but physical as well. My neck is sore, back hurts and I have all the symptoms of physical exertion. Once the plot point is solved, I immediately go into a state that duplicates euphoria. Usually, though, writing energizes me if I keep my bouts of writing at a reasonable level. When working on a novel I usually put in no more than one thousand words a day.

2)    Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I have never written under a pseudonym. I never even thought to do so. I have nothing against pen names, but I do not have a high-profile persona or outside life that needs protection from the public.  Another thing is I just could not imagine having someone else take credit for my work. I guess if the world knew my pseudonym was me I wouldn’t mind. Of course, then the pseudonym would be worthless. Also, I don’t plan on writing so many books that I would need a pseudonym to mask the fact that I’m publishing a lot. Aren’t you glad you asked?

3)    Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I think every writer needs to have a healthy dose of ego. I have seen huge egos get in the way of good work. I’m thinking of one writer who has such an enormous ego that there is no end of arguments between reviewers and him. Of course, this does not help the writing process and tends to limit the fan base. I believe a writer must have enough ego to be able to withstand the working alone creative process and ultimate judgment of the reader.

4)    What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer is for professional editing. I cannot imagine putting a book together without the aid of an editor. There are so many ways a writer can lose sight of certain word crutches and bad writing habits that the money spent on an editor is a bargain.

5)    What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

I think writing success looks like being able to craft an entire book and have people who you don’t know read it and then write a review saying they loved it. Yes, I have achieved it.

6)    What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My research consists of reading about the item in question or visiting the location in question. When I begin a book, I don’t do any research at all. I’m a pantser you see, and most of the research needs come up as the story develops. Once I realize I need to do the research it usually takes several hours per subject. I had to do a lot of the investigation on the John Cannon Trilogy since I knew next to nothing about boats, automatic weapons, explosives, P 51 Mustang airplanes, the Muslim religion, emergency procedures on various kinds of aircraft, FBI procedures, Navy SEALs, and sex. (just kidding there) I use the internet to find answers to my questions. As you can imagine, Homeland Security has me on speed dial. The location research requires trips to various places that I want to mention.

 7)    How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

My character names come to me while I am establishing their identity. I will pick a name that I think will fit a character and then after some scenes, I could be forced to change the name since it no longer fits. I have two characters in a book that will be published in 2017 who had different names all the way until final edit. The names did not fit their personalities, so I had to make the switch. In this case, I was able to make the switch without a problem. I have never regretted a character name, but on a couple of occasions, I found that I had spelled the names differently in different parts of the book. That would have been embarrassing. I guess a less complicated name would have prevented this problem.

8)    What is the hardest type of scene to write?

The hardest scene for me to write are those scenes that I am pulling from a real-life experience. We have all had certain times in our lives that have been challenging and periods of great joy. When I try to draw on those times as part of my character development, I have difficulty simply writing down and expressing the emotions. I suppose the real feelings have been buried over time, so it takes a revisit to the period to experience the pleasure or pain all over again.

9)    If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

The four people I would like to invite to dinner would be Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Elmore Leonard, and Neville Shute. I would ask them to relate the highest point they achieved in their writing and why they think it is the highest. I would also love to ask about the lowest point as well.

10)    What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

The platform that has brought the most success in marketing my books must be my blog. I can see that on a long-term basis a consistent building of the idea that I have books available to read is a good thing. On the short term, I think EReader News has had the biggest impact on a sales rise over a discrete period.

I would like to promote Our Justice the third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy


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?

Buy Our Justice:

About John:

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.

Connect with John:

Blog Fiction Favorites,

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Authors db –

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Amazon Author’s page –

59 thoughts on “A Perfect 10 with John Howell

      1. Whatever Happened to the Corbetts was a very prophetic novel considering he wrote it in 1938.. it was set on the South Coast near to where I lived so sparked my interest.. I loved A Town Like Alice and after that I read them all. For a 13 year old it opened up a whole new world. Perhaps I could come to dinner too and meet him. hugs xx

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Send me an email whenever you want Don. I still intend to get the next blog serial “bookized” this spring. So some appearances at other blogs are welcome. That one still features the Pip character, but it’s also a culinary mystery. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great interview, guys! John, I found your answer about using a pseudonym highly entertaining. 🙂
    And character names? I did the same thing with a lead character in a recent book. She went the entire draft with one name, but I switched it before publishing. Sometimes, characters know better than we do about what fits.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great interview! I liked the “whys” of choosing the four authors you’d like to spend some time with. It prompted me to think about what my response might be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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