In this interview with John Layne, we get a peek into how to follow a passion and find joy in seeing your words in print. It is a story I think many can relate to.
John, when did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
At about the age of 20 when I became a police officer. I immediately began saving notes and call sheets thinking that someday I’d like to write a police/crime novel.
From starting out thinking of a police/crime writer is sounds like the West won out. Did you choose the genre you write in or did it choose you?
Really both, but I’d say the genre chose me. I absolutely LOVE the Western genre and it just demanded that I write about it.
So what was the nudge that gave you faith that you could and wanted to be published?
Truth is, my wife. She got tired of me “talking” about writing and finally told me to shut up and do it! I then took a novel-writing class at the local college and was off and running.
Do you think your life experiences influence or hinder your writing?
Absolutely influence my writing. My professional career experiences and growing up in a Western genre family are significant influences. My parents loved western movies especially John Wayne films. We never missed one!
Where did you get the idea for your latest release?
The idea was years in the making really. Gravitating toward old West law enforcement was natural, thus my two main characters are a U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger. As a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, I’ve had the privilege to work with both U. S. Marshals and Texas Rangers in my career. My “contemporary” career and my passion for the old West are a great recipe for my stories/books. It allows me to write both about what I know and the genre I love. A writer can’t ask for more than that! (Of course, a best-selling book or two would be great!).
I always have to ask, are you a plotter or a pantser?
Panster. I just think of what needs to happen next and the scene or chapter writes itself.
Do you follow a writing routine or write when the muse strikes?
No routine. When the muse strikes, which is almost every day.
Do you prefer writing, short stories, novellas, or full-length novels?
Full-length novels, although I’m writing my first screenplay and I’m enjoying the challenge.
Is there a process where you find your next story or does the idea just hit you?
The next story usually just hits me. If I think about the concept too long I feel it seems contrived, which as you know is a killer for us writers.
Would you like to share anything else you feel people might like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?
I began my professional writing career as a sports editor and freelance writer for sports magazines. I returned to college later in life and was taking a writing/marketing class in undergraduate school. One of the assignments was to write a feature on a subject of my choice. I was coaching baseball at the high school and college levels at the time, so I decided to write a historical piece on the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club. It allowed me to experience both history and my favorite sport. I wrote the piece as a feature article and not only received an “A” for the grade but more importantly, a note attached asking me if I’d like to see the article published. Turns out the professor knew a publisher and that began my professional writing career. I went on to write over 200 sports articles in a two-year period.
My desire and dream of writing a novel became a reality when my wife got tired of hearing me say I needed to start my book, and she told me to stop talking about it and start doing it. So, I enrolled in a continuing education writing class at my local community college and ended up writing chapter 1 of what became my debut novel Gunslingers, A Story of the Old West which was released in September of 2019. Red River Reunion soon followed in October of 2020 and my third book Return to Canyon Creek is scheduled for release in August of 2021. I’m now a traditionally published author with numerous short stories, audiobooks, and a fourth novel in the works.
Do you write in other genres?
Yes! I just started my new series about a small Texas town police chief. It’s contemporary crime drama/fiction.
What are your favorite areas of research and why they are important to you?
I’m deeply connected to the Texas and Oklahoma historical society sites. I also look into the Railroad history and non-fiction books about old Western weapons, clothing, etc.
Thank you for a fun interview. Wishing you all the best on the journey we call writing.