John A. Connell, Back in the Hot Seat

John A Connell

Look at that face. Does that look like someone who would be described as having his head in the clouds? When you read the conclusion of the interview with John A. Connell, you’ll find that his wife describes him that way. Today’s our day to learn a little about the personal side of the author of Spoils of Victory.

  1. You’re an American who has lived in Paris and Madrid. Tell us where you would like to live next, and why.

I never imagined actually living in Paris or Madrid before that prospect was staring me in the face. And if someone had told me that I would be moving to Paris six months prior to doing so, I would have called them crazy. I had a good job as a camera operator on NYPD Blue, my wife and I had just bought our dream house in Los Angeles (at least as dreamy as we could afford), and I spoke almost zero French. But when my wife was offered an excellent opportunity in Paris, I said yes with little deliberation. For years I had wanted to devote more time to writing, and I had always toyed with the idea of living in Europe. What better place to try both than in the City of Lights? 12 years later, we made the move to Madrid—another place I never imagined living. Oh, and I don’t speak Spanish—though I’m working on it.

So, who knows where I might end up next! I think it would be fun to try Rome or Munich. Rome for the history and the food, and after spending a lot of time in Munich during my research, I really fell for the city and the people. And France keeps pulling at us. There is so much history, beauty, and culture (not to mention great food and wine!) packed into a country the size of Texas, that it’s hard to resist. Especially since I’m such a history buff—my wife says I like old stones…

  1. Readers who want to be writers are always curious about the writing process. When and where do you write? Computer, pen and ink? Do you outline or are you a pantser, writing by the seat of your pants?

I write my first draft in longhand. I write in notebooks, leaving wide enough margins to jot down notes, revision suggestions, etc. Not very efficient, but it helps keep the thoughts flowing. And when I’m writing that first, rough draft I usually sit on my bed, legs up, with the shades closed. The darkened room helps me stay in the story moment.

I’m a hybrid—part outliner, part pantser. I don’t plan out the entire book. I have the beginning, some major plot points I want to hit along the way, and a sense of the ending, but beyond that, I write as I go. I’ve tried to start with a detailed outline, but I just couldn’t make it work. I like the spontaneity of it, though it is like writing without a net. I’m like the detective in my stories, assimilating information and deciding on the next step. That spontaneity of the story is part of the joy I get out of writing. As a matter of fact, for SPOILS OF VICTORY I didn’t really know who was the main antagonist until near the end!

  1. Tell us something about yourself that readers don’t know.

From a very young age and up to my mid-20s I had dreamed of being a music composer. I had a gift for performance and composing, but I lacked the passion and discipline to master the craft. And at that young age, if whatever I wrote didn’t come out as instantly brilliant then I abandoned it, which was all too often. When I finally walked away from music, I was crushed, and as a consequence I haven’t returned to keyboard since. Looking back, I realize that music was my outlet for a driving urge to create, and camerawork in film and TV served that same purpose, until I discovered my true passion—writing.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on book #3 in the Mason Collins series. I hesitate to say anything about what’s next for fear of introducing a, well, spoiler for the end of SPOILS. I can say that my plan with each book is to pick up Mason’s journey weeks or months after the last, with Mason, like that wandering samurai, getting into trouble in some of the most volatile places in Europe and the Mediterranean.

  1. Describe yourself in five words, as you think your wife would describe you.

I decided to simply ask my wife. Is that cheating?

I had to use phrases rather than five single words. I know, another cheat.

  • keenly perceptive of people
  • “dans la lune” which I roughly translate as “head in the clouds.”
  • attentive listener
  • maniac for details (I tend to need to know everything, much to her consternation)
  • adaptable to changing situations

Now, of course, my wife is prejudiced. I can agree that I do have my head in the clouds most of the time…


Fortunately, John A. Connell is able to adapt to changing situations. That means he’ll be here on Wednesday, March 30 at 7 PM, instead of in Spain. He’ll talk about Spoils of Victory, and sign it. He’ll be joined by Philip Kerr.