Interview: John Truman Wolfe

When we held the giveaway for Mind Games, so many of you wanted to know more about the author. Today, we have him! He’s got quite an interesting background, and gives some fabulous (one word) advice for other writers.

Enjoy this interview.


We had quite a large number of people enter the giveaway for your book Mind Games. Many said it looked like exactly the type of book to keep them interested. Tell us a bit about it. How did you come to write it?

Thanks. While not as an ongoing profession, I had done some private investigative work over the years and also had the opportunity to work with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs right after Communism fell. So I had a taste of “on the ground” experience.

I am also a voracious consumer of detective fiction and have been for many years – Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais are favorites. A few years ago, I started writing some stories based around the activities of a Berkeley, California based private eye named Tom McKenna. One day I sat back and looked at how much I had written and said to myself, “Hell, I’m not too far short of a novel here.” And so went about the business flushing out the story and completing the book.

Any surprising stories about the process of writing Mind Games

There was one that was very surprising but also very cool. I don’t want to give the details as it would spoil a reading of the book. But I had created an antagonist and then, given what I knew his character to be, had him doing some very unsavory things. Later, I had a need to polish some research (as Mind Games is built around an actual CIA intelligence program). As I was researching this point, I ran across a story of a person in the exact profession I had created for my villain who did exactly what I had written. This was some highly sophisticated evil that I had created for the guy in the book, and damn, if someone hadn’t done exactly that – in real life. Nasty character.

I understand you’ve got a fiction and nonfiction book in the works. Is your process different when writing nonfiction?

Yes and no. Of course, writing fiction gives one all the creative freedom the imagination can provide. And non-fiction requires keeping the story within the boundaries of the factual context. So they are different in those obvious ways. But the creative process is very similar. Even characterization, fiction or non-fiction, is very similar.

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

I have recently finished the second in the series of Tom McKenna novels and intend for this to be an ongoing series. Also, as you note, I have just finished a non-fiction book on the financial crisis: Crisis By Design, The Untold Story Of The Global Financial Coup.

I enjoy writing either, but am partial to fiction and have started the third McKenna novel.

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

Fiction = Shogun. Non-Fiction = Dianetics.

Favorite authors?

As above, Robert B Parker and Robert Crais in the detective genre. I am also a huge Frederick Forsythe fan and love Michael Creighton’s books.

Book you’re currently reading?

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

Not really. A funny habit, as opposed to a ritual, I often take my laptop when I go out to grab a bite for dinner, which is frequent, and write or edit the last few pages I have written.

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

It’s never really been a problem for me. There have been times when I have struggled with a turn of phrase or how to paint someone or something so that they come alive. But this really doesn’t fall into the category of writer’s block as I understand it. Sometimes, when I just can’t seem to get it the way I want it, I write it as best I can and move on. And then I come back to it later and almost always, with that “distance,” I can bring the right words to the part that had so alluded me previously.

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

The amount of joy or pleasure he or she can bring to readers – and, let’s be honest, book sales, are certainly a measure that pays the rent.

Advice for other writers?


Where can we learn more about you?

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview and the very supportive services that you provide to writers.

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2 Comments on "Interview: John Truman Wolfe"

  1. Thanks for the interview with John Truman Wolfe. Reminiscent of the days of Sam Spade and other wisecracking gumshoes… but here in the present day. And this story, Mind Games, is based on fact? Whew! That’s something!


  2. Hey John, I was at the men87&21#;s breakfast at Capo Beach Calvary where you spoke this morning. It is refreshing to see that some are willing to break away from tradition in a new way. I hope to see you again soon.


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