Welcome to John M. Daniel

November 27, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour

John, thank you for visiting my blog today and sharing your thoughts on Inspiration, Author Enjoyment, &  Reader Wishes

John M. Daniel was born in Minnesota, raised in Texas, and educated in Massachusetts and California.  He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a Writer in Residence at Wilbur Hot Springs. He has taught fiction writing at UCLA Extension and Santa Barbara Adult Education and was on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for nearly twenty years. He now teaches creative writing for Humboldt State University Extended Education.

John Daniel

John Daniel

John’s stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His thirteen published books include four mysteries: Play Melancholy Baby, The Poet’s Funeral, Vanity Fire, and Behind the Redwood Door, recently published by Oak Tree Press.

John has worked as a bookseller, a free-lance writer, an editor, an entertainer, a model, an innkeeper, and a teacher.  He and his wife, Susan, live in Humboldt County, California, where they are small-press book publishers. Susan enjoys gardening, John enjoys writing, and they both enjoy living with their wondercat, Warren.

Inspiration comes from real-life experience. I think that’s true for all fiction writers, even writers of science fiction and fantasy. It’s true for me, anyway.

I have written a lot of fiction about the dim lights and sophisticated chords and the tinkle of ice in glasses, all to be found in piano bars. True: I’ve wasted a lot of money and a lot of hours in piano bars, and I have no regrets. My hero for those stories, including my first published book, Play Melancholy Baby, was a piano bar player, and I suppose he was a lot like me, or like what I’d like to have been if I’d been a tad more reckless. But most piano bars have left the scene, and Casey died on May 14, 1998 (as did Frank Sinatra).

Since then, my alter-ego has been Guy Mallon, whose life, work, and loves are inspired by my own. Guy’s a retired small press publisher, a short man with a tall attitude. I wish I had this fellow’s courage when it comes to standing up to unfair authority.

Guy has now retired to the North Coast of California, Redwood Country. Me too. I guess Guy and I are both inspired by tall trees, rocky coastline, and small-town gossip. That’s why the newest Guy Mallon mystery, Behind the Redwood Door, was born: to feature a piece of our beautiful world that many readers haven’t yet seen.

As a writer of mysteries I can’t claim to be inspired by first-hand experience with crime. I’ve never seen a corpse, I’ve never been in a fistfight, and I’ve never had a run-in with the law except for a few speed traps in small Texas towns. But I know about the publishing business, and there’s enough adrenaline in that game to inspire a great car chase, and even a murder or two. Or three.

Author enjoyment? Believe it or not, being an “author” isn’t all that much fun. I was brought up to believe that modesty is a virtue, and boasting is taboo; and yet I know that the sole job of being an “author” is to stand on street corners with a grin and convince people they should buy my book.

Now being a “writer,” on the other hand, is exactly what I want to be for the rest of my life. I am never happier than when I am deep in a writing project. I love sketching out a plot, and then writing it down and watching it grow into something I never expected it to become. I love creating characters and then having them take off on their own. I love it when snappy language pours out of my fingers. I love the way words sound in my head. I am in awe of some creative spirits somewhere above me who allow me to tap into the source.

I know this sounds terribly spooky. I get out of writing what my wife, Susan, gets out of gardening. It’s a high, even when it’s work.

Reader wishes? I want them to be glad they dropped by. I want them to feel entertained. I want them to tell their friends they’ve found an author and some characters they enjoy spending time with. I want them to write me an email and say howdy. I want my reader to finish Behind the Redwood Door and to close the book softly, with a smile on their face.


Behind the Redwood Door


Behind the Redwood Door is sold by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It can be ordered by your local independent bookseller, or bought directly from the publisher at http://www.oaktreebooks.com/ For an autographed copy, call John at 1-800-662-8351.

Thank you, John, for sharing your thoughts with us today!

Be sure to leave a comment and your name will go into the drawing for a free copy of Reticence of Ravens (three copies in total, randomly selected by Buster!)

17 Responses to “Welcome to John M. Daniel”

  1. […] https://mmgornell.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/welcome-to-john-m-daniel/ Share this:ShareFacebookTwitterPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted by […]

  2. Kitty Kladstrup said

    John–I read your comments with high interest. I love your clear passion for words and how they come together, and your comment–” I am in awe of some creative spirits somewhere above me who allow me to tap into the source.” I have met other talented writers who have expressed something similar…great stuff. Looking forward to reading your books.

  3. It’s a pleasure to meet John Daniel here on your blog, Madeline. What a fascinating and extensive background he has! Wishing him the best as he continues to pursue doing what he loves. I am so very happy for him!

  4. Very interesting blog, John. I loved learning more about you.

  5. Oh, boy, I really identified with your line, “if I’d been a tad more reckless.” I often feel as though I’m living the life I should have done through my books, and it sounds as though you’re doing the same thing, John!

  6. Terrific blog, and it’s encouraging to read about how much fun you have with your writing. That, alone, makes me want to read Behind the Redwood Door. Well, there are other reasons, too, but…

  7. “Writing is a high, even when it’s work.” Brilliant. Sums it up perfectly. Great post, Mad and John.

  8. OMG. I have no idea how the typos got there. I must have a gremlin in my computer.

  9. OMG, I have no idea how the typos got there. I think I have a gremlin in my computer. 🙂

  10. Madeline, thanks so much for having me. I agree with Wendy: you have a fine format on your blog. And thanks to all you others who commented. It was a pleasure to find out how many others spent time in piano bars. I miss that scene.

  11. Madeline, thanks so much for having me. Your format is great; I agree with Wendy on that. And thanks, everyone, for commenting. I’m happy that so many of you have spent time in piano bars. I miss that scene.

  12. John, I spent a few lifetimes in piano bars, too, and remember them with fondness. I can also relate to the high you get from writing. When it comes together, it’s pure gold.

  13. I loved this post, especially the piano bar. I’m loking forward to readidng BEHIND THE REDWOOD DOOR.

  14. W.S. Gager said

    John: I too loved the part about the piano bar. Many of your comments expressed how I feel about writing maybe making us kindred spirits. I’ve learned so much during the Mystery We Write blog tour.

    Madeline: I really like the format of your blogs!

    W.S. Gager on Writing

  15. I loved the description of the piano bar, John. My husband played in a piano bar for a very short while. Someone spilling beer on the piano key ended it for him. Fun post, thanks.

  16. Just the names of the books peak my interest. Thank you for introducing Mr. Daniel’s work!

  17. mmgornell said

    Thank you, John, for joining me here on our blog tour today and for your thoughtful answers on inspiration, enjoyment, and reader wishes. I especially like that writing is a “high” for you!


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