Saturday, September 28, 2013

Marcel Proust in Taos: In Search of Times Past by Jon Foyt: Interview


How did you start your writing career?


I grew up in Indianapolis and wanted to be a racecar driver at Indy, but soon gave that up to go to college to study journalism and geography, then business at Stanford. I was in the Korean War in Military Intelligence, then worked in electronics and radio broadcasting in the Pacific Northwest, before getting into real estate development, where my late wife, Lois, and I built apartments, condominiums, and single family homes. Later, I went back to school at the University of Georgia to study Historic Preservation. Lois and I then moved to New Mexico to write novels about the Southwest, archaeology, and Native Americans. My wife and I wrote together for 20 years until she passed away, and now I continue to write. I’m 81 and active in an adult retirement community in Northern California.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

          Willy Herbst is a middle-aged reporter in my new novel, Time to Retire. In contemplating his approaching retirement, he gets an assignment to investigate a suicide in a nearby active adult retirement community. His investigation parallels, I suppose, my own journalistic approach—were I a quarter century younger. Along the way, exploring the mysteries and lifestyles of senior citizens, he’s joined by Sally, a very attractive intern who is taller than he. In describing his reaction to her professional writing skills, I suppose it’s much like my own might be given similar circumstances.


Tell us about your current release.


Marcel Proust in Taos is about a Los Alamos nuclear physicist who retires in Taos, New Mexico. While living nearby in Santa Fe, I met a lot of rocket scientists from The Lab who wanted to retire. I also met a lot of artists, so this novel is about the two disciplines coming together. In the novel, the two protagonists open a microbrewery on the Taos Plaza and offend the town’s matriarch, who turns to terror to thwart them. There’s a novel within the novel, written by Christopher, the physicist, who fears nuclear terrorism.

Tell us about your next release.


          Time to Retire is a mystery/romance novel about life in an active adult retirement community. Since I’m living in such a place, this novel is probably the first of its kind, through the protagonist, Willy, who himself is approaching retirement, to write about characters and plots within a retirement community. There’s a suicide plus shenanigans from the Homeowners Association Board of Directors for Willy, and his intern, Sally, to investigate, with startling discoveries.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?


          Faithfully portraying your characters is perhaps the most difficult, for they must be true to themselves. Then, I think, it’s setting the stage on which they perform—that is, the time in history and the geographic place, being a country, city, or campus, or wherever. The writing result must appear real so that the reader feels they are there, taking part in the events and the emotions along with the characters.

Where do you research for your books?

        In libraries—often the archives—and on the Internet. It is important to include a search for primary source material, not just popular folklore to uncover the real story. For example, in writing The Landscape of Time, set in 1808 in Upstate New York, I found in local library archives the journals written by women during that time period. Their writings helped get the language right for the characters telling of events surrounding the creation of The Erie Canal.


A Los Alamos physicist, Christopher, retires to Taos, New Mexico to write a novel about nuclear terrorism. There he meets aspiring artist Marlene, and the two fall in love. Together they open a microbrewery and find themselves confronting terrorism of a new sort—in unmapped emotional territory.

Striving for new heights on the literary landscape, along with his late wife Lois, Jon Foyt began writing novels 20 years ago, following careers in radio, commercial banking, and real estate. He holds a degree in journalism and an MBA from Stanford and a second masters degree in historic preservation from the University of Georgia. An octogenarian prostate cancer survivor, Jon, 81, is a marathon runner (60 completed), hiker, and political columnist in a large active adult retirement community near San Francisco.
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