John Hart’s intention was only to take a short break from writing to help his family get acclimated to their new home in Virginia. However, six months turned into five years for the New York Times bestselling author who comes to visit Schuler Books Friday, May 20.
“What happened was we moved and I was in the midst of a book tour for my fourth book (‘Iron Horse’). I was in Austria and touring,” Hart said during a phone interview. “I came back with the intention of being more available to them so I decided to take six months off.”
He also began writing what he thought would be his fifth book, calling his publisher a year into the project and telling them that he was going to scrap it.
“I wrote the first 50 pages and it wasn’t working and then I got to 150 pages and it still wasn’t working,” Hart said. “By then I had months and months of work into this so I pressed on and well a year into it, I knew it wasn’t going to work.”
Describing himself as a “hope and grope” author since he prefers to come up with the story as he goes versus outlining the entire book, Hart said the reason the novel didn’t work is because “the fundamental flaw I found was that I wasn’t writing about the right person.” He expanded by saying that in his past novels, he always knew who he was writing about. With his fifth novel, he wanted to write a modern version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” but the main character was too familiar in that he was strong and capable, but not very interesting – “you know, sort of a stock character.”
But there was a minor character, Elizabeth Black, who did have a story tell, one that Hart tells in the well-written prose of Redemption Road.
“This is one of the most complicated plots I have ever done, but it works very well at the end,” Hart said of his fifth New York Times bestseller thriller. “There is that click of satisfaction.”
Redemption Road centers around North Carolina police detective Elizabeth Black who holds a firm belief that her mentor in law enforcement, Adam, was wrongfully convicted of a brutal murder. Hart carefully weaves a tale of vengeance, betrayal and a town that is literally on the brink.
The book has received high praise from critics and readers, some calling it his best work. New York Times author David Baldacci noted that Hart could “flat-out write….Read this novel. And then go back and read all of his others. He’s that good.”
Not bad for a guy who calls himself a recovering attorney who had a passion for writing. About ten years ago, he rolled the dice on his chances of becoming an established writer. “If I had known then what I know now of the odds stacked against me on getting published and how hard it is to become a bestselling author and raise your children on writing, I would have been discouraged.
“I truly didn’t understand the odds against me.”
Hart came out on top with four New York Times bestsellers in a row, selling more than two million copies, and the first author to win back-to-back Edgar Awards along with numerous other awards. He also is considering movie options on two of his books Down River and The Last Child.
Currently on a coast-to-coast tour for Redemption Road, Hart said he has no plans to have another five-year hiatus and is already thinking about book number six.
“I definitely want to get it done in a more timely matter,” Hart said, adding he wants to be more dependable not only for his publisher but for his fans. He admitted its a risk to take a long time between books and he was fortunate it all worked out for “Redemption Road.”
Hart will be at Schuler Books, 2660 28th St. SE, for a book talk and signing at 7 p.m. Friday, May 20. For more information, visit www.schulerbooks.com