How did you start your writing career?
I didn’t grow up dreaming about being a writer. It wasn’t even on my short list. But now in hindsight I do think writing books was a natural evolution from my time spent working in Hollywood.
My acting career helped inform the characters I wrote for, and about, and created, in my television work. The craft of acting helped me understand the emotional roadmap needed to flesh out complex characters, characters that will hopefully be compelling enough to maintain a reader’s interest.
My television work taught me discipline, writing on a schedule, collaboration, and it really hammered home the type of characters I enjoyed and wanted to invest my time with, characters that were interesting enough for me to spend a year of my life with, and again, hopefully keep an audience reading. Only you can tell me if I’ve succeeded at that and I look forward to hearing from you.
Tell us about your current release.
There may not be vampires or paranormal activity in, “The Devil’s Necktie,” but I think there’s enough sex, drugs and murder to keep things interesting.
I wanted to write about a detective who was standing on the precipice, recovering from a nasty divorce, retiring from the NYPD, leaving Staten Island, and moving west. The old Yiddish proverb pretty much nails it. “Men make plans, God laughs.” My protagonist, Jack Bertolino, chose to do all of those things; it just didn’t quite work out the way he planned. Twenty-five years of taking down drug dealers, money launderers and killers came back to haunt him, and shook up his newfound sense of bliss in Marina del Rey, California.
That was enough of a hook for me to write “The Devil’s Necktie.”
Tell us about your next release.
I’m two hundred pages into my next Bertolino book. It’s called, “Working the Negative.” Jack grew up in a Staten Island neighborhood populated with “made men” and friends of the Mafia. He cut all ties with the dark side when he entered law enforcement and thought he’d left his past securely behind when he moved out to California. But not so quick. Now that he’s retired, Jack finds himself owing a favor to a mob boss who may have saved his son’s life.
It’s a request Jack can’t refuse.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The hardest part about writing is having to shut it off at the end of the day. Once I blow through the terror of the commitment, it becomes a 24-hour process for me.
I still get concerned that if I step away from the computer, I’ll lose the groove.
Where do you research for your books?
When I first started out as a writer, I’d spend hours combing libraries and researching articles and information related to whatever story we were writing at the time. I traveled to Phoenix when we were writing a film about a rogue group of cops in Arizona. Talked to the local PD and spent time visiting, eating and drinking in their watering holes and got a feel for the neighborhoods where the story was set to take place.
The Internet has profoundly changed that process. I started writing The Devil’s Necktie and did Google searches, along the way, as I needed information. It’s a time saver and invaluable tool.
What are your favorite TV shows?
I don’t watch a lot of television, crime/suspense dramas, when I’m in the process of writing a book. There aren’t enough hours in the day. And I don’t want to run the risk of picking up someone else’s train of thought. I do like the mysteries on BBC. I also stay on top of the news, some sports, and my guilty pleasure, “Top Chef.” My all time favorite television shows are still “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” Great acting and brilliant writing.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
The only advice I can share with aspiring authors is to write every day. I learned that lesson from Walter Mosley, one of my favorite authors who wrote a short book entitled, “This Year You Write Your Novel.” What I learned from Mosley is that a book won’t magically appear if you don’t put in the time. Make it a habit. It might be the only habit you have that will enrich your life.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
On my off time, I’m a foody who loves to cook Italian. I play a little golf. Love to travel but don’t do enough of it. I lose myself in books. And as soon as I’m finished writing this, I’m going to walk my dog. That will make him happy, and that keeps me happy.
John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.”
He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.
During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.
The Devil’s Necktie is his first novel.
A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.
Publisher: Gallery Books, Simon&Schuster/Karen Hunter Publishing
Number of pages: 384
Word Count: 89,520
A Sizzling thriller for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. An exciting tour into the real-life world of cops, crime, and murder. Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered – and Jack is the lead suspect. Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Columbian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and murderers and discovers that the top players knew Mia personally. And now Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover…either way, the body count will rise.
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