Interview: John Knoerle

John Knoerle was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949 and moved to California with his family in the early ‘60s. He wrote the screenplay for “Quiet Fire,” which starred Karen Black and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, and the stage play “The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club,” an LA Time’s Critics Choice. John also worked as a writer for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Knoerle’s first novel, Crystal Meth Cowboys was optioned by Fox TV. His second novel, The Violin Player, won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction. Knoerle is currently at work on The American Spy Trilogy. Book One, A Pure Double Cross, came out in 2008. Book Two, A Despicable Profession, was published in August of 2010.

John Knoerle currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Judie. Enjoy this interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing about forty years. I started out penning sketches for a college comedy troupe, moved on to stand-up routines then screenplays and, finally, about twenty years ago, novels.

It has taken those twenty years to get four books in print so I’m not what you’d call prolific. The good news is that I’m proud of all four.

Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

My latest is A Despicable Profession, it’s Book Two of The American Spy Trilogy. I hope that readers find it a fun read, first and foremost. But, as it is set in 1946 Berlin, I hope readers get a good sense of that fascinating time at the beginning of the Cold War.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

What’s next is Book Three. I’m more than halfway home but wrapping up a trilogy is one hell of a challenge!

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

The Old Boys by Burton Hersh. It’s an exhaustive summation of the interesting characters and intrigues that comprised the WWII OSS and the subsequent transition to CIA.

Favorite authors?

Hardboiled guru Raymond Chandler. He made the mystery genre respectable with brilliant writing and a great sense of ‘place.’
Or, in his words, “We took murder away from the weekend house party and Vicar’s rose garden and gave it back to the people who were really good at it.”

Book you’re currently reading?

I am currently reading Harlot’s Ghost: A Novel by Norman Mailer, and will be for some time. It’s a sweeping 1100 page novel about the first two decades of CIA.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I prefer the barstool by the window at Chicago’s venerable Club Lucky. My drink of choice is a Stoli martini with a twist.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

I do not believe in writer’s block. It’s a job. Plumber’s plumb, nurses nurse and writer’s write.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

To write what you want to write and do it well. And hang the consequence.

Advice for other writers?

See above!

Where can we learn more about you?

Read my books!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Bless all you readers and writers. Sometimes I feel like we’re the only sane people left.

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