Wednesday, December 21, 2022

John Van Stry

John Van Stry is a United States Air Force veteran who worked in robotics and as a flight test engineer and as a quality and test engineer in the medical devices industry. He is a collector of motorcycles and big cats.

Van Stry's new novel is Summer's End.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Honestly, I don't think it does all that much - I mean I hope that it does pique their interest enough to get them to look at the blurb because for a lot of us I think the idea of the end of Summer makes us think of coming changes.

As for how I came up with the name? I honestly don't remember. Most of the time I have trouble coming up with a title and a lot of working titles often go through a change before the final title. This one never changed. What's funny is that my publisher and editor didn't like the title when they first saw it. But after they read the book they never suggested changing it again. So I think the book does capture the title, once you've read it.

What's in a name?

I picked Dave's name because I hadn't used that name, for a character before. There is no special significance to his name, just like how to so many of the people out there, their name has no real significance beyond what they may bring to it themselves.

Now, the nickname of his you find out about in the final chapters, there is a lot of significance to that name. To me I think it is the final 'piece' of the puzzle about who he used to be.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Not at all. In some ways this novel calls back to some of my favorite authors who wrote stories that reflected on both the people and the societies you are liable to find in the future. It looks at how people deal with problems, difficult problems, what motivated, intelligent, and competent, people can and will do, when they have to. Robert Heinlein and Roger Zelazny were both favorite authors of mine growing up. These are the kinds of stories that they wrote, as well as a great many of the authors I read back then.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

That changes from book to book. Sometimes I won't write the first chapter of a novel until I'm about three or four chapters into a book. That wasn't the case with this one however. The ending of this book did get a large rewrite. There were several reasons for that but most of it came down to wanting to see how much my editor liked the story. When I submitted it, the ending really did need to be flushed out and well, maybe I went a little overboard and added an extra thirty or so thousand words. But, she loved it, so obviously it was the right thing to do.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I don't really see all that much of myself in my characters. When I first started writing, perhaps there was more than a fair bit of me in some of them, but nowadays I try to make my characters unique and new to me. It's more enjoyable to write them that way. Also it lets me explore things more. So I'd have to say that there is little, if any, connection.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I get a lot of influence and inspiration from the things I've seen and done in my life. I've worked on a lot of very interesting projects as an engineer, but I've also worked in the trades. I've got some interesting as well as different hobbies as well. All of those things have introduced me to a large number of fairly interesting people, not always good, and doing things or seeing things that most folks will never experience. The kinds of things that make you stop and wonder.

Sometimes I look back and find those things very inspiring.
Visit John Van Stry's website.

--Marshal Zeringue