Author of the Day – John Holt

JohnHi John, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. You’ve been here before, but I’m glad to see you return.

Hi Lucy, it’s good to be back here and thank you for the invite.

I’m curious, with summer coming will you be lounging in the garden, or are you more of an active person and will you go on walks and such?

Well, to be honest I’m not a very active person. The past few years have not been great from a health point of view I’m afraid. Ten years ago I had a heart attack. My heart is Ok but I suffer terrible headaches every week or so. Then two years ago I was diagnosed with a cancer. Well, I’m glad to say that the cancer is being kept under control, but I have injections every twelve weeks which aren’t exactly pleasant. Anyway enough moaning. I will certainly be out in the garden. We are also members of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and one of the RHS gardens is located about 8 miles away, so we shall certainly be going there. Furthermore this part of Essex is a beautiful part of the country, so we shall certainly get out as much as my health allows.

That’s good to hear, John. Stay healthy and writing I would say, and hopefully lots of the latter in the garden.

Do you like to spend time with friends discussing all sorts, and if so what? Or are you more of a recluse?

Certainly I like to spend time with friends. We discuss all kinds of things, politics, world affairs, local events, films, TV programmes. Never sport. Football, and rugby, and worst of all, F1 motor racing, leaves me cold. I don’t mind my own company either, and spend a lot of time writing, or promoting.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Well, I don’t drink beer, or spirits. An odd white wine or a sherry perhaps. I do, however, like my coffee. As for food do you count chocolate, because I do like a square or three of Chocolate.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

When it comes to food I have to say that I’m not wildly adventurous. I don’t like Chinese or Indian food. I don’t like anything spicy, or hot. Chillies, and mustard are no-no. For like plain cooking, roast potatoes, roast lamb, chicken, turkey. I like good old fish and chips. Pizza occasionally, and I do a rather nice home-made lasagna. Courgettes, mushrooms, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, onions, all go into the mix with Quorn mince. Plenty of white sauce, and plenty of shredded cheese. Add Soya sauce into the mix, and voila..

Sounds like an easy recipe to me. I’ll give it a whirl and let you know. 🙂 

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

image[1]The book featured today is “Epidemic”, the third to feature my private detective Tom Kendall. A drug is being developed by a corrupt pharmaceutical company. It is decided to test the drug in a small South American country where controls are not so stringent. Things go wrong and people die. A cover up is put in place. A young reporter is found dead. The evidence shows quite clearly that it was an accident: a simple, dreadful accident. That is the finding of the coroner and the local police. Furthermore, there were two witnesses. They saw the whole thing. But was it an accident, or was it something more sinister? Against a backdrop of a viral epidemic slowly spreading from Central America, a simple case soon places Kendall up against one of the largest drug companies in the country.

There was really only the one major news story that Monday morning. Oh, certainly, there was other news that day; there was no doubt about that. In fact, that weekend had been busier than usual. There had been a major landslide in the northern part of the country following a period of prolonged heavy rain. There had been a substantial amount of damage, but fortunately nobody had been hurt. One hundred and thirty miles to the south, in San Jose, trade discussions with Nicaragua had, at last, restarted after weeks of postponement and delay. On the labor market the Minister of Labor had announced higher than expected unemployment figures, causing widespread protests. And, last but not least, oil workers at the Attico Plant were threatening to take strike action for better working conditions.
Certainly, there was other news, but nothing was quite like that particular news item that dominated all the front pages on that day. Although every newspaper in the country ran the story, it was the influential “La Republica”, based in San Jose, which had broken the news first. The front-page banner headline simply read “Mysterious Illness Strikes” in thick, black letters, almost three inches high. But those three simple words graphically told the whole story, the news report that followed simply filled in the details, such as there were.
“Three people, two men and a young woman, were admitted into the local hospital at Punta Rojas, in the early hours of the morning,” it read. “It is understood that all three were suffering from respiratory problems, and all had a rash to the upper part of the body. A series of tests have been carried out on all three patients, in order to try to determine the cause of the sickness. The results of those tests are still awaited. Preliminary results are not expected until late tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. All three patients are said to be in a stable, but critical condition. An official spokesperson for the hospital said that at this stage it was far too soon to comment on the actual cause of the sickness. However, the symptoms were generally considered to be not too dissimilar to influenza. The spokesperson went on to say that the illness could be due to a previously unknown strain of influenza, or possibly, a mutation. The illness has preliminarily been dubbed Rican Flu by the hospital staff.
It is understood that the Attico Oil Company, which is based in the port of Almeria, employs all three people. It has been suggested that a chemical leak at the oil plant may be the cause of the illness, at least in part. The Health Ministry has said that at the present time there is no evidence to support this rumor. It also stresses that at no time was there any danger to the general public, and that there is no cause for alarm. The plant has now been evacuated, except for key personnel. The area has been completely sealed off. The authorities are stressing that the situation is now fully under control. Emergency teams, including chemical specialists, are currently on the site carrying out a thorough investigation. In the meantime the public are being advised to wash their hands, and, as far as possible, to keep away from crowds. Furthermore they are being told to only make essential journeys. Anyone feeling unwell should take two panadol tablets, drink plenty of fluids, keep warm, and rest.”
In the later editions there were no further details regarding the sickness. There was, however, a small additional news item regarding the alleged oil leak. “Rumors continue to spread regarding a possible oil leak at the Attico Plant. However, a spokesperson for Attico Oil has subsequently denied that there has been any chemical leak at the plant, as previously reported. The plant has been thoroughly checked and no problems have been reported. It is understood, from Interior Ministry sources, that the plant is to remain closed for the next few days at least, and possibly as long as until the middle of next week. It was also reported that there have been no new cases of the mystery illness.”

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Epidemic” will be on kindle Countdown from May 8 until May 15. The price will be 99 cents. Increasing to $1-99 on May 11, and then back to the original price of $2-99 May 16.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

I haven’t so far. I try to keep the title short and snappy, and relevant.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Marketing is by far the worst part of being a self published author. Sadly I cannot afford to pay for a major advert in a book magazine, or a newspaper. I use Twitter and Facebook a lot, some might say too much, but it has to be done. I am fortunate to know a few friends who blog (present company included) who are able and willing to provide some publicity for me. At present most of my sales are coming through Kindle Countdown, but that lasts for a few short days. So, if you have any ideas please let me know.

Do lot’s of blog appearances, like this one, and get on Google+!

And can you tell me something none has ever heard before from you? I can’t help it, I just love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

You are a mischevious little …. I hate to disappoint but I really don’t have any dark, or dirty little secrets. As for something no one has ever heard before, well for some years I was the Chair of our local branch of the RSPCA. The branch actually ran a rescue centre taking in not only stray dogs and cats, but foxes, rabbits, horses, swans, you name it. At that time I was a Chartered Surveyor operating my own practice. I did a lot of architectural work, designing extensions, new houses, and the various buildings at the rescue centre.

Well I can’t think of anything else, except to thank you once again for your support and friendship.

You are most welcome, John. It’s about time I get around to reading the books you’ve written. I’ve got a couple, but I’m slowly getting through my TBR pile and soon enough I’ll reach yours.

Let’s remind the readers once more that Epidemic is on Kindle Countdown at the moment for only £0.99 in the UK, and $0.99 in the US.