Meet John L. Davis IV: Published Author, Screenwriter, Parent and Husband. If you’re interested in learning about how this writer has accomplished so much in the industry, read on!
HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING A WRITER, PARENT AND HUSBAND ALL AT ONCE?
“My job as Editorial Assistant for the Ralls County Herald-Enterprise allows me to work from home, most of the time. Because of this, I can usually get my writing done in the mornings, when the kids are in school. When they’re out of school, I still try to write in the mornings, so it’s done and out of the way. This means afternoons and evenings are for family. I try to keep that schedule, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, I have to be willing to shut the door and write. Other times, I have to simply set writing aside and be there for the family. Whether I’m writing for work, or hammering out a new novel, short story or screenplay, I try to make the mornings mine, so anything else I need to do, including spend time with my family, I can do in the afternoon/evening.”
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER THOSE WANTING TO PURSUE WRITING WHILE ALSO HOLDING DOWN OTHER JOBS AT THE SAME TIME?
“You work, you have a family, so writing always seems to take a back seat to everything else. If you genuinely want to write, then write. Set aside time every day to put something down on paper, (or the word doc, or whatever you use). I’m currently sending out queries to agents for my newest novel, a suspense thriller titled Average Joe. When I was working on this book I had a goal of 1000 words per day. It’s attainable, and I usually went over.
I would start writing about 8:00 am and was usually done for the day by 9:30 or 10 am. If you work during the day, then make the hour after dinner, or right after the kids go to bed your writing time. Set that schedule and follow it.
On those days when you just don’t want to write at all, (they happen, all us writer-types know it,) then make yourself sit down and write something, even if it’s just writing about why you don’t feel like writing. Remember, reps and sets. The more you work a muscle the stronger it gets and the more you want to use it. Writing is much the same way.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GENRE TO WRITE?
“I think writing post-apocalyptic stories are some of my favorite tales to tell. I have short stories that are horror, supernatural thrillers, action thrillers, and post-apocalypse stories, some blend elements of each. My new novel is a suspense thriller without any horror elements. I don’t want to stick myself in any one genre and say, “This is what I’m writing forever and ever.” I would love to finish the science-fiction novel I’ve started, and maybe try my hand at a straight fantasy novel.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ZOMBIE SERIES, AMERICAN REVENANT.
“American Revenant is a zombie apocalypse survival series set in and around the town I live in, Hannibal, Missouri. The genesis of the story originates from conversations with friends. Living here, right on the Mississippi river, we would often discuss how we would survive in a post-apocalyptic situation. Could we make use of the small islands up and down the river near us? What about long-term survival? How would we make it safe, or obtain food? At the time we were all watching shows like Z-Nation and The Walking Dead, so, naturally, zombies became part of the equation. At one point, I said that I could write a better story, better characters, than those on TWD, (they seem like they’re constantly trying to get themselves munched on) and my friends basically told me, “Then do it.” It was my first serious writing endeavor in years. And here we are almost 4 years since I published American Revenant: Hometown Exodus.
The series now spans 4 books, 1 short story and a short film we shot here in Hannibal.”
WHEN DID YOU BEGIN YOUR FASCINATION WITH ZOMBIES AND POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION?
“Like many people around my age, my introduction to the post-apocalyptic was the made-for-tv nightmare of a movie called The Day After. Man-oh-man that movie was terrifying. I was only about 9 or 10 years old at the time. When I started reading heavily in my early teen years, I was drawn to PA stories, Stephen King’s The Stand, Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, Brian Hodge’s Dark Advent, and so many more. I’ve always loved survival stories, add in a healthy dose of a blasted or diseased landscape where life is just scraping by, where the human spirit and will to live are the strongest forces, then I’m sold. Those are my kinds of tales.
As for zombies, I remember staying awake late one night and catching Return of the Living Dead Part 2 on HBO or one of those channels, and man, that was awesome. Not long after that I saw Night of the Living Dead and I was hooked from then on. I began hunting down zombie flicks, watching as many as I could get my hands on, and while there are plenty of decent ones, Romero’s classic zombie flicks will always be my favorites.”
WHAT WRITERS/BOOKS INSPIRE YOU?
“Don Pendleton, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I could expound on that for hours. Those three authors, side by side, are the reason I love to read, and they are in many ways, the reason I love to write. Don Pendleton, because he created the Mack Bolan series of men’s adventure novels that first hooked me into reading when I was 12. It was incidental. My mom had picked up a box of books at a yard sale for a dollar. She read one and said I might like it. I haven’t stopped reading since. For a couple of years, I mainly read men’s adventure and survival stories, then I got hungry for more and discovered Dean Koontz at the library. I think I read every book they had by him in a month’s time and began searching for more. While I was getting into Koontz, a friend gave me Stephen King’s Carrie. Again, I was hooked, searching out every book I could find by King. As for specific books, I couldn’t narrow it down enough. It would be a rather unwieldy list.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING A WRITER?
“Losing myself to a story. Whether I’m working on a short story, a novel, or a screenplay, when I can get lost in my own stories, in the growth of a character or the development of the plot and the words just seem to appear on the screen of their own accord it’s a rush that I can’t really explain. The hardest part of that, though, is the quite time after the story is done. It’s a sort of vacancy. I’ve tried to just turn around and write something new, but that never works well for me. I need the decompression, so-to-speak. It can take days, or even months for me to get back to headspace where I’m ready to write again. But the entire time I’m not writing, all I can think about is that I should be writing.”
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
“Right now, I’ve got several really hot irons in a raging fire. I recently finished a suspense thriller novel that I’m currently sending out to literary agents, hoping to acquire representation. It’s a really good book, and it was a thrill to write. I’m hoping to sell it to a publisher, but if I don’t see that happening, I intend to release it by year’s end.
I have a new post-apocalyptic short story I’m working on about a guy who is searching for the last book by a specific author in a blasted world full of mutants and other horrors.
I’m also in the process of putting together a book I’ve co-authored with another zombie/horror writer, Guy Cain. The book, Tales of Junction, is unlike any zombie story you’ve ever read, and were looking forward to having that out by year’s end as well.
I also have a short horror story coming out this year in the anthology Southern Fried Autopsies from Burning Willow Press.”
Readers can find me at https://americanrevenantseries.com/, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanRevenant/. All of my stories are available on Amazon for Kindle and the American Revenant series is also available in paperback.
Purchase the American Revenant zombie apocalypse series right here on Amazon!
Jerome is an avid outdoorsman who moonlights as an attorney when he’s not creating the world’s greatest online content.