Before we get to the giveaway, John was again so nice and gave us some of his time to answer some questions. Below you will find a really great interview where you'll learn more about John and his book Cemetery Street. Beneath the interview will be the Rafflecopter where you can enter to win your very own e-copy! Happy reading and best of luck to all of you :D
1. First and foremost, we always ask to know some more about the Author. Tell us a little about yourself :)
Hello, my name is John, and I’m a word-o-holic. I particularly love them in stories. You know, a bunch of words thrown together that can lead a person anywhere. Did I mention my love for words, more specifically, the power they possess, has lingered since childhood? Even when words were confusing and I had to attend remedial reading classes and failed 7th grade English. It took that long to figure out that a red octagon with the letters: Spto meant stop and ighnt was bedtime.
Since, I spent an unspectacular youth conjuring dreams to chase through my adult life, until at the ripe old age of thirty-nine, I pulled up stakes from suburban Philadelphia, sailed across the prairie in a U-haul and settled in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. Since I’ve managed to partake in many adventures including buying a small town bar. Oh, the stories I have to tell.Meghan: Wow! I think that's the best 'about you' answer I've ever gotten :) Thank you for the awesome glimpse of yourself. Owning a bar would indeed provide you with numerous, interesting stories I am sure!
2. What is your favorite part in Cemetery Street?
Because the story begins with James visiting Shannie’s grave, (Heck, Shannie’s tombstone is on paperback’s cover) it wouldn’t be a spoiler to say Shannie’s funeral and beyond. As a reader I enjoy how everything comes together and that we see the emergence of a more mature, seasoned James. I also enjoy the introduction of Indian Point subplot in which we learn Russell’s backstory.
I'm also proud of the Gulf War segment. A ton of research went into getting it right.
Meghan: The Gulf War segment was really well done! Usually those things tend to bore me, but because I felt so invested in the characters, and the manner in which it was told, I found it interesting and exciting.
My favorite part has to be the night in the hotel room. It seemed so climatic, and played a huge part in both of the lives of the characters involved. Plus, it was just so well written :).
3. Where did you find the inspiration to write this book?
I’ve been blessed with incredible voyeuristic opportunities which have led to the creation of intriguing characters. I feel if I didn’t parlay this advantage onto the page I would be wasting an incredible gift. That being said, I’ve always had the urge to tell stories, and Cemetery Street found its genesis from the two. Cemetery Street really began to take shape after reading John Irving’s “A Prayer For Owen Meany.” A reader may even notice two references to “Owen Meany” within Cemetery Street. Bonus points for anyone who e-mails me the references. (Jzunski@yahoo.com)
Meghan: I recently purchased a Prayer for Owen Meany by the recommendation of a friend, I will be searching for the references within now when I read it :).
4. For those reading this who haven't read your book, why would you recommend that they do?
4. For those reading this who haven't read your book, why would you recommend that they do?
Cemetery Street is an old fashion tear-jerker. It lays raw emotion and the character’s vulnerability upon the reader’s lap. If the reader is willing to engage, the book promises a wild emotional ride. Cemetery Street, like my other books, isn't for the faint of heart. Each title explores the gritty side of life. Collectively they pull back the folds of the mind and explore the depth of the human psyche. In each book there are themes working behind the narrative that are designed to engage and challenge the reader’s mores. If you don’t mind a story that isn’t Disney, my work is for you.Meghan: you described your book so perfectly! Your story is one I still think about, even after I've finished reading it.
5. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?
I’m on Goodreads.com @ http://www.goodreads.com/
and my blog @ http://johnzunski.wordpress.
com/ My blog is an eclectic place, you just never know what you may find; recently, I’ve been focusing on The Barroom Chronicles, a nonsensical series of essays entailing the stories of owning a small town bar.
I’m putting the final touches on a ghost story entitled Nightwatching and I’ve started the first draft of Cemetery Street’s sequel: Montana Rural. It follows James as he moves past Cemetery Street into the next stage of life.
Also, Shangri-La Trailer Park is currently available as an ebook and will be published in paperback in 2013.Meghan: I love ghost stories! And I would absolutely love to read Montana Rural! I hope you will think of me when they are released ;).
7. If you could pick one character from Cemetery Street to spend the day with, who would it be?
Do you mind if I do a little thinking out loud? The choice would be between Shannie and Russell. That I own a bar and that I experience his habits as a course of life and outside of his riveting experiences and sagely wisdom, I think he would be a bit tedious day to day. That leaves me to spend an afternoon with Shannie on Indian Point. I have a weird sense of paternal pride with her and would love to peer deeper into her experiences and thoughts. It would be fun to share a beer with Shannie.Meghan: I would absolutely pick Shannie <3 I just fell in love with her.
8. Shannie is such an amazingly developed character who literally leaps off the pages at you, is she based on someone you know personally? It seems like you put so much work into her!
Thanks for the compliment. You’re right, a lot of effort went into her development; the same holds true with all the main characters. You may enjoy this anecdote, towards the end of the first draft, I was at a crossroad with Shannie and spent an Indian Summer’s afternoon hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail ‘talking’ with her - working out the details of her decisions. Crazy I know, but you know us writers.
Is she based on someone I know? Yes and no – how’s that for being annoyingly vague? No in as much as Shannie isn’t based on one person. She began as an amalgam of girls/women I have known. A personality trait from this one, a physical attribute from that one. But as the story progressed, she broke free of those influences and became her own unique personality.Meghan: You are most welcome! I think your thought and development process is just great :). To treat your characters like they are living and existing makes them seem as such when reading the book. Your efforts definitely paid off.
I’ve always wanted to publish my work, but I just didn’t have the skill set. Heck, the first draft of Cemetery Street waited patiently on the shelf for eight years as I developed my craft enough to tear back into it and provide the TLC it needed.
Hearing the impact Cemetery Street has had on individuals. Reader’s comments have provided an incredible source of external validation while paradoxically being very humbling. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
My all-time favorite is “A Prayer For Owen Meany.” It’s getting time for me to pry apart the pages and delve into the story again and see if it is still provides the same wallop. Other favorites are: Peter Straub’s “If You Could See Me Now” and John Kennedy Toole’s: “Confederacy of Dunces”
The author that I’m reading, whomever he/she is at the moment. I root for them to knock my socks off. Now if you were to ask me who are my influences, I’d have to say John Irving, Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen, with honorable mentions to Mario Puzo and Truman Capote.Meghan: I enjoy your attitude towards the Authors of your current read :) I have to say I feel much the same when I'm reading. Also, the fact you listed Stephen King as an influence made me smile the biggest smile! I am a MASSIVE Stephen King fan <3 He is my absolute favorite! I just love every world he's ever created.
Would it be cheating to say Cemetery Street? It’s a world that I’m most familiar. Plus, it’s of my own creation and I feel it would be much easier to get around than another author’s world.Meghan: Ha, not cheating at all, I think it's a great choice.
I am schizophrenic when it comes to reading. I will read any genre anytime. Though I have a tendency to favor contemporary lit.Meghan: I am also up for delving into any genre, and I have yet to find one that disappointed me. So I am kinda all over the map as well :)
15. What advice would you offer to an aspiring writer?
Be flippin’ tenacious. Don’t let anyone, I mean anyone stand between you and your dreams. When you start getting rejection slips, use them to fuel your fire. The other important element, never, ever, rest on your laurels when it comes to developing your craft.Meghan: Thank you for the fantastic advice! And for taking the time to answer all my questions! It has been really great working with you and I sincerely look forward to hearing from you again in the future :)
And now for the part I know you're all waiting for! The Giveaway! Hopefully the above interview made you want to read this book even more!
You know the drill, fill out the copter (click on the read more button) for your chance to win 1 of 2 e-copies of Cemetery Street by John Zunski :)