Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
John: Thank you, Fiona, it is a pleasure to be here!
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
John: My name is John M. Cahill and I am 72 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
John: I was born and raised in Pittsfield in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. After college, I moved to Delmar, New York, a suburb of the state capital, Albany. I now live in Vienna, Austria.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
John: I have a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and enjoyed a successful and rewarding 35 years in public relations and social marketing with New York State Government. I have two sons and a beautiful, 7-year-old granddaughter. My wife, who is Austrian, has a daughter. We met through a mutual friend when I was visiting Vienna in 2006. After we met, I returned to the states, sold my house, packed up and became an “instant” expat!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
John: I have just completed The Trail of a Traitor. It is the third instalment in my historical adventure, “The Boschloper Saga”. It continues the story of my main character, Sean O’Cathail, an Irish fur trader, which began in Primitive Passions and continued in Savage Wilderness.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
John: Unlike most writers, I really didn’t do much writing as a youngster, unless you count school essay assignments. What I really enjoyed was creating and telling stories. Looking back, I guess I must have driven my family and friends crazy! I chose Journalism as my major in college when I realized that writing my stories down was a way to reach more people.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
John: I guess I first considered myself a writer when I began my professional career writing educational and social marketing materials promoting good health to the people of New York State.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
John: Living and working in Albany I was surrounded by reminders of the area’s Dutch history. I was impressed by the bravery of the Dutch who came to America in the 17th Century and settled in New York’s Mohawk Valley where most of the action in my stories occurs. These stalwart adventurers inspired and continue to inform my stories. In addition, this is a virtually ignored piece of American history that I believed should not be forgotten.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
John: “Boschloper” is Dutch for “runner in the woods” and refers to fur traders in general.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
John: I truly don’t know if I have a “writing style,” per se. I just start writing and continue to write and revise until I’ve told a story that I would like to read. The problem with writing historical fiction is the need for historical accuracy. As a result, I do a lot of period-based research before starting to write any of my books.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
John: In so far as possible each of my books is informed by history. What was actually happening serves as the backdrop for the actions of my characters.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I really do not need to travel. As I noted earlier, I spent 35 years in the area and know it intimately.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
John: The cover for Primitive Passions was designed by Laura Givens. The cover for Savage Wilderness is by Dann Jacobus.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
John: My basic message is that people are people and race has no bearing on whether they are good or evil, brave or cowardly.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
John: I’ve recently discovered Harlan Coben, who writes thrillers. He’s not new, but is new to me. My favourite living author is Bernard Cornwell. I haven’t found one of his books I didn’t like. His Sharpe stories are classic, but his series about Uhtred of Bebbanburg is just amazing. I particularly love Uhtred’s sarcasm.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
John: I would have to give a shout-out to the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek).Ten years into researching the Dutch in America, I still hadn’t found a hook that satisfied me. You see, the Dutch were merchants, not explorers. So, when they came to Albany, they sat there and waited for the Indians to bring furs to them! Dull, right? But, one day, in the Austrian National Library, I found a YA encyclopaedia of explorers – sorry, I don’t remember the title—that described the adventures of two Dutchmen from Albany. One went as far as Michilimackinac, where Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior meet, in search of furs; and the other made it to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I finally had proof that some Dutch men did exciting stuff and I was on my way to Primitive Passions!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
John: (laughing) After 50+ years, yeah, I guess I do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
John: I’ve only just finished On the Trail of a Traitor so, of course, I have doubts and concerns. But I have written a story that I like and, I guess, that’s what really counts (at least until a publisher’s editor gets at it).
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
John: I learned that there was a rebellion, “Leisler’s Rebellion,” in New York City in1689. Fear of a French invasion drove the Calvinists to suspect all Catholics of being French spies.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
John: My wife has already selected Sam Heughan (Jamie Frasier of “Outlander”) for the role of Sean.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
John: If you feel the need to write, write. Write, revise or rewrite until you’ve told your story to your satisfaction.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
John: Yes. Thank you, all of you, for having bought my books. I appreciate your votes of confidence.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
John: Right now, I am reading Ian Rankins’ newest John Rebus mystery, In a House of Lies. I really enjoy reading mysteries to relax.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
John: It probably wasn’t the first book I read, but the first book that made an impression on me was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
John: I am a confirmed follower of the Monty Python philosophy, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” I laugh easily, at silly jokes, comic strips, little children. I do not cry very easily, except in the face of personal tragedy,
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
John: I would dearly love to meet either Mark Twain or Will Rogers. I think I would really enjoy a conversation with either of them.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
John: My wife and I do a lot of travelling. During the Christmas holidays, we were in Tanzania on safari (don’t worry, we only shot photographs) and, at Easter, we were in Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
John: I really don’t watch much television, except news and documentaries, American football and college basketball. Given a choice, I would much prefer to read.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
John: Well, I’ll eat anything that doesn’t move faster than I do. I guess blue is my favourite color. And, I enjoy listening to jazz and classical music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
John: I guess I would spend the time reflecting on how truly blessed I have been.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
John: He was damned lucky!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
John: People are more than welcome to visit my homepage at www.john-m-cahill.com
Armen Pogharian said:
Glad to hear that you were able to find the research to provide your stories background. Now if I can only get someone to pay for my research trip to Austria…Best of luck to you.
John M. Cahill said:
Thanks, Armen. Hope you do make it to Austria someday! It’s a beautiful country.