Thursday, June 10, 2010

John Foxjohn's Tattered Justice

John Foxjohn epitomizes the phrase “been there—done that.” Born and raised in the rural East Texas town of Nacogdoches, John quit high school and joined the Army at seventeen—Viet Nam veteran, Army Airborne Ranger, policeman and homicide detective, retired teacher and coach, and now a multi-published author. John uses his extensive experience, as well as meticulous research, to write his suspenseful, true-to-life novels and instruct other writers at workshops and conferences in forensics, crime scene investigations, and other facets relating to law enforcement.

John is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Northwest Houston chapter of RWA, Elements of Romance, Kiss of Death, Lethal Ladies, Sisters-in-Crime, East Texas Writers Guild, League of Texas Writers, and more online writing groups than he can count. He is a full time writer and speaker and lives in Lufkin, Texas, but travels extensively across the U.S.

John, it's great to have you here. Wow! What an interesting life and plenty of fodder for writing.
What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

Choose any of Louis L’Amour books and you have hit on it. I grew up reading and loving the classics—still do, but I fell in love with the westerns and especially Louis L’Amour. If I was going to say anyone author influenced me over others—it would have to be him.

What are your writing goals?

I continue to strive to get better. One day, I want to write the perfect book. I realize that probably isn’t possible, but I know it isn’t if I don’t try.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Not really—my goal is to entertain, take the reader out of their world and bring them into the one I have created.

Briefly tell us about your latest book.

Kayla Nugent, a Houston criminal defense attorney, knows money can buy many things, but it can't buy love or friendship, and it shouldn't buy justice. When a best-selling romance author is murdered, the politically motivated D.A. charges Kayla's former best friend with the murder. The decision forces Kayla to face a past that ripped her life to shreds, and defend the one person she'd rather see in jail.
The stress of the high profile trial and a client she doesn't trust hinders Kayla's developing relationship with Darren Duval, a private detective hired to help her. The people close to Kayla try to convince her not to take the case. Only one insists she drop it—the person trying to kill her.

What’s the hook for the book?

Ahh, the hook. How about I wrote it almost exclusively through the eyes of a woman.

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? In what way?

God, I hope so—if not I am in a heap of trouble. When I began I knew nothing about writing, characterization, anything. I look back on some of those first drafts and it almost makes me sick to my stomach.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

My last one was definitely more challenging. First, I did write it through a woman’s POV, but she is an attorney, and involved a huge courtroom scene—a profession and scene I knew nothing about.
I spent a huge amount of time in courtrooms observing trials, talking to criminal defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys and judges, asking questions, just to get the information I needed. Fortunately, I got about ten times the amount I really needed. That’s good because I am writing the sequel now.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

I do an in depth character study before I write a single word of the manuscript. I know more about my characters than any one. For Kayla Nugent, my protagonist/heroine in Tattered Justice, I had fifty-two pages of character information.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I outline, but it is a brief outline, and it mostly consists of the conflicts and the layering I want in the story.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

That’s difficult to answer. I have done many things in my life. I have some experiences very few do—do they show themselves in my writing? I’m quite sure they must. People have told this, but when I am writing, my experiences don’t creep into my mind. Of course, they are there and sometimes they come out and it surprises me when I find it.

Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?

Noise, can’t write in quiet—the nosier it is, the better. I love to write in a crowded IHOP, people talking, moving all around me.

I'm just the opposite. I think I have Adult ADD. lol.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

I am fond of a glass or two of good white wine, or maybe a Captain Morgan’s spiced rum and Coke, and of course, have them in the hot tub. My hot tub is without a doubt the best investment I ever made.

What are your current projects?

At the moment, I am writing the sequel to Tattered Justice. I am calling it Poetic Justice. It is going to be a fantastic romantic suspense.

I have actually been researching a book for about six years—one that has never been written. I call it Unheralded American Heroes. Everyone knows about this countries famous people, but we have many heroes that for one reason or another, never came into the forefront of American History.
This book is about these heroes—the ones most people don’t know about.

Now, there’s a reason no one has ever written it, it may take me another few years just to finish the research—it’s not easy to find.

Good luck with it.
I am also in the process of writing another David Mason novel.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My next big event is in July—I am presenting a class at the Romance Writers of America’s National convention at Florida’s Disney World.
They can also check out my web site—

Super! Thanks for the inteview, John, and continued success!


Dinah Menil said...

You know, you can find San Francisco criminal attorney here

dkchristi said...

I should go to the meeting in Orlando in July - I'm barely a romance writer...enjoyed the interview and the insights into a full-time writer's thoughts., author of Ghost Orchid, a mystery of love, lies & redemption wrapped in a ghost orchid.

DR. NORM said...

Great interview John. Good questions were asked by Susan which made the interview interesting.

Patti said...

I agree with dkchristi, I am barely a romance writer myself! I will be at the Orlando RWA! As usual, great interview! BTW, LOVE the photo John!

Anonymous said...

Hey John! Great interview! Looking forward to meeting you at National! Kudos on your success! Love Kayla and can't wait for her second book to come out!
Cheers, ~V

Betty Gordon said...

John, great interview. You are always entertaining and informative.
Susan, good questions make a good interview.

Betty Gordon

The Belle in Blue said...

Enjoyed the interview, and the books sound intriguing! Congratulations on getting a gig like RWA! Knock 'em dead!

Anonymous said...


I hope to meet you in Orlando, finally. I’ve read all your books and they are great, but I especially loved Tattered Justice. Kayla’s fantastic.

Congratulations on all your success. You deserve it!

Jean Austin

Dianna said...

Having recently completed one of John's workshops through LRWA I can say anyone attending their event and sitting in on Mr. Foxjohn's lectures at Disney is in for a treat. He knows a thing or two about writing and he is happy to share with people willing to learn. Be prepared to work hard.
Have fun in Orlando.

Anonymous said...

Hi John! Great interview - I'm looking forward to your workshop in Orlando!

Jacquie Rogers said...

I'm jealous of all of you who can go to John's workshop on Orlando! John, I won't be there, but I'll be thinking of you!

John Foxjohn said...

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, and yes, Susan did a great job. LOL, Dianna, I wasn’t that tough was I?

I’m looking forward to meeting all the ones that I don’t know at nationals, and getting together with the ones I do.

Thank all of you for stopping by.

john said...


Sorry you can't go, but at least I'll get to meet Ann...... :-)

Chassily Wakefield said...

Great interview, John! I'm looking forward to meeting you in person at Nationals. And I thought I was the only one who had a 50+ page character portrait thing going on, LOL. It made me feel better to see a published author doing the same thing, I was afraid I was going a little overboard! :)

John Foxjohn said...

Hey Chassily,

Wow! I am surely going to enjoy these nationals…. :-)

LOL, who is to say I don’t go overboard, too. But I am in good company.

Cindy Sample said...

Great interview. THanks to both Susan and John. Can't wait to read Tattered Justice and I'm bummed I won't be in Florida for RWA. Hey, John, can we woo you to Sacramento for Left Coast Crime in 2012?

Ann Charles said...


Thanks for sharing so much in this entertaining and informative interview. It's really interesting how you like it noisy to write. Some days I need quiet to write, other days I need music, and then there are days I write with my kids making all kinds of noise around me. Spiced rum and Coke sound like the perfect, relaxing combo.

I'm looking forward to meeting you in person in Orlando!

Ann Charles

Earl Staggs said...

I always enjoy reading what you have to say, John. Best wishes for continued success with your writing. . .and with all those ladies who can't wait to meet you in Orlando. ;-)

Loretta said...

Excellent interview:) All the best at the conference!

Cheryl said...

Enjoyed your interview. You always have interesting stuff to say!

Susan Whitfield said...

Thanks for dropping by, everyone! John and I appreciate it.

J D Webb said...

Great interview, John. Enjoy Orlando and continued success to you.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Really interesting interview! You're the real deal as far as knowledge of crime fiction. I'm impressed that you wrote this novel from a woman's viewpoint.