John Dixon’s recent novel Phoenix Island was the basis for the television show Intelligence. The sequel, Devil’s Pocket, comes out in January. At the beginning of July, John shared with Fine Living Lancaster what it’s like to be a writer.
Fine Living Lancaster (FLL): What’s something about being a full-time writer that would surprise many people?
John Dixon (JD): I don’t seem to be able to write many more words working full time than I did when I was getting up at four in the morning to write before work. This is largely due to the amount of non-writing work that full-time writing necessitates: social media, emails, interviews, signings, events, etc… I’m thankful for all of it, and I love writing full time, but I never expected the volume of non-writing work that was involved.
FLL: What’s the one thing you hate most about being a writer?
JD: Self-doubt plagues me. It’s horrible. Over the years, I’ve quit 75% of the things I’ve started, including at least a dozen would-be novels where I wrote a hundred pages or more. That is my great failing and my great struggle.
FLL: Do you have a writing schedule? What’s it like?
JD: Here’s the way it’s supposed to work: wake early, take a long walk with my wife and our dogs, have breakfast – including lots of coffee – then get my butt in the chair and work the rest of the day, with a break for lunch in the middle. I work seven days a week, though I usually only work a half day on Saturday and often find only an hour or two on Sunday, which is busy with church and extended family and all sorts of non-writing goodness.
FLL: How long did it take to write each of your novels?
JD: Perhaps oddly, Phoenix Island and Devil’s Pocket both took ten months to write.
FLL: Would you ever want to adapt another book? Or perhaps write specifically for TV?
JD: I would love for all of my books to be adapted for film or television or both. I was also excited that Kirby Heybourne, the narrator of Gone Girl, read the audiobook version of Phoenix Island, and right now, I’m having fun watching one of my short stories, “The Laughing Girl of Bora Fanong,” be adapted into a graphic novel. I’m hoping my stories will branch out in all directions, including video games and emerging forms of transmedia. I find it all very exciting.
As to the question of writing specifically for TV, however, no thanks. I might write a screenplay – I have a few clamoring within my skull – but those TV guys are fast, fast, fast.
FLL: What’s next for you?
JD: I’m awaiting the edits for Devil’s Pocket, just received an invitation to a great short story anthology, and am in the earliest stages of my next book, which appears to be a thriller aimed not at teens but adults.
FLL: What are YOU reading right now?
JD: I am reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which is so knock-your-eyes-out fantastic that I haven’t even been telling anyone what I’m reading in fear that someone will let loose with a spoiler. I’m only confessing here because I know I’ll have eaten the rest of it before this interview sees print!
Pick up a copy of Issue #31 to find out what it was like visiting the set of Intelligence and seeing his book be reworked for TV.