Interview: John Byk

New novelist John Byk talks about the experience in writing Till the Moon Falls. Enjoy this interview.

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

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, I joined the Coast Guard after high school. I always had an adventurous, wanderlust soul and the military helped me to see more of the world and also to develop the self discipline that I needed for college and writing.

After the Coast Guard, I returned to Michigan and began working towards my Master’s degree in English. My thesis was a creative, non fiction manuscript that I composed in 1985 while backpacking through Europe and visiting, then communist Poland, the country of my ancestors. During the summers, I made extra money by shipping on ore freighters in the Great Lakes. However, I was still too restless to see more of the world before being able to write a novel so I went to Asia to teach English as a Second Language.

Teaching English in Japan and Thailand matured me and I returned home to work in the public school system before finally moving back to northern Michigan. That’s when I finally began to write in earnest. I started a political blog and began to write for different Internet venues.

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

Drawing upon my lifetime experiences, combined with my interests in high technology and the way it is transforming humanity, I wrote a neo noir, thriller entitled, Till the Moon Falls, about a down and out, ex merchant seaman, who works as a night clerk in a seedy, downtown Seattle hotel. One night, a beautiful, wealthy woman falls into his arms, violated and on the run. The protagonist decides to help her but ends up caught in a web of international, corporate intrigue because the woman was implanted against her will with advanced, bioengineered nanotechnology and a lot of powerful people are interested in the results of her experience.

Relying only upon his brawling instincts and maritime conditioning, the hero works his way through a maze of betrayal, illusion and opaque reality, following the woman, who has been kidnapped from him and taken to Thailand, where most of the novel is set. Semi autobiographical in nature, I hope that readers would find the action entertaining as well as informative regarding the brutally competitive, fast paced and rapidly changing world of nanotechnology that offers hope to humanity but with dangerous strings attached.

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

Completing Till the Moon Falls was a big jump for me. I learned what patient dedication it takes to finish a full length, manuscript that meets the high standards that I set for myself as a writer. Amazed by my own efforts at finishing the project, I immediately started a sequel called, Xenophobia, which is nearly done. After that, I have a third novel in mind that deals with school shootings and how students from different, socioeconomic backgrounds react to them. The working title is called, Crying Bullets.

Favorite authors?

I’m a very eclectic reader but I read the bible daily. When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, I enjoy the style of Robert B. Parker and Cormac McCarthy, especially No Country for Old Men. A lot of my inspiration comes from films and I am fascinated with neo noir, thrillers like The Salton Sea or comedy heist movies like Bandits.

Book you’re currently reading?

Currently, I’m reading Philosophy: History and Problems by Samuel Enoch Stumpf. A novelist should be thoroughly familiar with a wide range of concepts, both spiritual and scientific, in order to produce a work that resonates.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I’m a news hound, waking up in the predawn hours to scour the Internet before beginning to write. I don’t set a word goal for myself everyday, but I do make sure that I write something that’s complete, like a scene or a narrative passage. The pace changes as I get nearer to the end of my story and sometimes I’ll write all day because of the excitement I experience near completion.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m reading, watching films or enjoying nature. In the summertime, you can find me in my sailboat, cruising the coastline of Lake Superior. In the winter, cross country skiing and frequent trips to the local gym help keep my mind sharp and the creative juices flowing.

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

I’ve never had writer’s block but I do find myself struggling through passages at times, the words not flowing as quickly as I would like them to. A rule of thumb for me is that I always leave off what I’m working on at the end of a session with the beginning of a new scene or chapter. That way, I can pick up on it immediately next time.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer? Advice for other writers?

My advice for other, aspiring novelists is to be thick skinned and determined. Expect rejection and learn how to value criticism. Working hard for months, maybe even years, until you learn how to polish all aspects of your style is part of the game. This includes writing query letters, networking, pitching your books verbally and using any means to reach your goal, whatever it may be. As for measuring success, that is totally subjective. I feel like I’ve made a small dent in the universe by completing, Till The Moon Falls, and I’m happy with that for now, but a nice, juicy book deal with movie options, starring Bruce Willis, wouldn’t ruin my day completely!

Where can we learn more about you?

My website is http://johnbyk.blogspot.com

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