I had the pleasure to interview Jon Michaelsen, Author.
I am a writer of gay fiction in the mystery thriller, suspense, and speculative sub-genres. Many writers have influenced my writing style over the years, such as mainstream authors David Baldacci, John Grisham & Michael Crichton to such diverse and ground-breaking LGBTQ novelists Patricia Nell Warren, Michael Nava, John Morgan Wilson, and Felice Picano. Other current writers who have influenced my style are Greg Herren, Steve Neil Johnson, David Lennon, Marshall Thornton, Gregory Ashe, and Brad Shreve.
My debut novel, Pretty Boy Dead, was selected as a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Gay Mystery. A second book in the series is The Deadwood Murders. I am currently writing the third novel in the series tentatively titled Murder on Peachtree, as well as a prequel, Death of an Angel.
I am a southern Georgia native and live in Atlanta with my husband of 34 years and two monstrous terriers!
I retired from almost twenty years with American Express, and my husband and I own a property management business, so in my spare time. I love to read; curling up on our screened-in porch with a good book is my favorite pastime—also, practically anything outdoors as I enjoy speed-walking. I am an outdoorsman at heart.
When I was about seven or eight years old, I read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy’s mysteries. I found that I really enjoyed the mystery and suspense elements of fiction. Later in life, I became familiar with mystery thriller writers, such as David Baldacci, Patricia Cromwell, and gay mystery writers Michael Nava, Richard Stevenson, and Mark Richard Zubro. It was Nava, Stevenson, and Zubro, who ultimately inspired my own writing of mystery thriller fiction.
I began writing short stories as early as seven or eight years old and wrote poetry during my teens and earlier twenties. I didn’t get serious with writing until my late forties upon the publication of my first short story in an anthology.
By reading, finding that reading various fictional novels similar to what I am writing or want to write helps to inspire me so that soon the walls of writer’s block dissipate and the urge to write again returns.
I began considering myself a writer once I completed my first novel and gained interest in its publication, which ultimately earned a Lambda Literary nomination my first time out about seven years ago now.
I conduct a great deal of research for any story I write, paying particular attention to the mystery thriller, police-procedural novels. These days most of my research can be done online; however, I also seek personal insight from current and former police officers to gain as much authenticity as possible.
I do not find that I have the time every day to write. Still, I probably spend about six to eight hours a week writing prose, documenting notes on background and character development, and brainstorming.
When I began being published twelve years ago, my favorite part of the process was working with an editor to help tighten the prose and hone my skills as a writer. Now, however, I moved to self-publishing because two of my last three publishers closed their doors. I guess I would say that was my least favorite experience with publishing.
I have written multiple novels to date, yet published only two full-length gay mystery thriller novels and three novellas. I find it’s hard for a writer to choose their favorite title. Still, for the time being, I will have to say my latest novel, The Deadwood Murders, book two in the Kendall Parker mystery thriller series.
I guess the most astonishing thing to me while writing is that I often write from the seat of my pants. I do not spend a great deal of time outlining, I just prefer to have a general idea of the beginning, middle, and the end of where my story goes. Then, I can sit down and write as the prose comes to me on the fly.
Hands down, my favorite character is Kendall Parker from my gay mystery thriller series. He’s damaged, flawed, and seeking self-redemption while performing his duties as an Atlanta Homicide detective.
My first published novel is Pretty Boy Dead, the first book in the Kendall Parker gay mystery thriller series. I found the journey of writing my first book to have been the most difficult. As a writer, you want your first time out to be perfect, so I spent an enormous amount of time rewriting and revising to ensure the final story written provided included the most tightened prose possible, all the way up and until submitting the novel to my publisher by the deadline required.
What is not in the blurb about Pretty Boy Dead is the personal struggles of homicide detective Kendall Parker as he returns to his job after weeks of personal leave following the death of his life-partner of five years. The first book of the Kendall Parker mystery series has Parker still living in the closet, only out to a few close friends, not even out to his homicide partner of several years.
Yes, Kendall Parker holds an extraordinary place in my heart because the character has been with me for over twenty years. I developed him over two decades, creating and massaging the character, whom is damaged and somewhat lost when readers first meet him in Pretty Boy Dead, with flaws of his own who always strives to do the right thing, would put his life on the line to protect anyone. Just a big lug wears his heart on his sleeve.
I have been lucky in that I met a fellow writer over a decade ago in an online writer’s networking group I was a part of for over ten years. She happened to be a cover artist as well, a mighty fine one at that, having been awarded numerous accolades for her designs over the years. Dawne Dominque of DusktilDawn Designs exclusively creates all of my covers now. She listens to carefully to what I am seeking and can create a cover design that’s just about perfect each time the first time out the gate. Sometimes a little tweaking to finalize a cover, but most of the time, she’s spot-on!
The research required. Not only is The Deadwood Murders a police-procedural requiring a great deal of knowledge about the departmental police procedures, but the major plot is driven by a psychotic serial killer. I spent months reading non-books and newspaper articles on serial killers, as well as numerous true-crime books on actual serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy, Larry Eyler, and Wayne Williams, the notorious Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children serial killer, all to create a perfect realistic character.
To actually finish! This novel required a great deal of time to write, notwithstanding the amount of time needed for research. Writing the book proved to be a considerable undertaking. Still, I was determined to stick with it and give the plot and characters the authenticity my readers have come to expect.
Yes. I am currently writing the first draft of book three to the Kendall Parker mystery series titled Murder on Peachtree. The plot centers around a murder that takes place during a SWAT raid on a gay leather bar in Atlanta. I anticipate the release to be early to mid-2021.
For the most part, I draw inspiration from my imagination. Still, I also get much inspiration from reading other fictional books in the same genre as I write, though not exclusively gay mystery thrillers.
Talk about putting me on the spot! It’s very difficult to choose just one author because there are so many I’ve read over the year which has both influenced my own writing, but also provided a great deal of joy and entertainment. Many of those I considered my favorite years ago I’m come to know personally with the advent of social media, such as Michael Nava, Mark Richard Zubro, John Morgan Wilson, and Greg Herren, all of whom write gay mysteries. My favorite mainstream author has to be David Baldacci. He writes terrific thrillers; a personal love of mine. His plotting is simple reading yet complex, meticulously researched, and face-paced.
The authors who have influenced my own writing the most are David Baldacci, John Grisham, Michael Nava, Mark Richard Zubro, Greg Herren and John Morgan Wilson.
The author who I admire the most in my own genre is split between Michael Nava and John Morgan Wilson, both of whom have excellent series; Nava writes the Henry Rios mystery series which features an attorney, and Wilson’s mystery series is with Benjamin Justice, who is an investigative journalist.
After every storm comes a rainbow ~ anonymous
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