Saturday, December 4, 2010

Author Interview: Jack Gilhooly

I hope you took a few minutes to read my review of Christmas Village ( yesterday! Today, let's learn a little about the author, Jack Gilhooly.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about the other books you have written and where we can buy them.

Jack Gilhooly: I have written three novels under the name John Westin. They are all humorous in tone. The Spy Book (just published) is about an American professor and graduate student whom the Soviet Union manipulates into helping them figure out what can be done about the collapsing Soviet economy in 1990. When the prof arranges for the secret material to be published as a book in the U.S., the Soviets are irate, and soon Soviet agents, the F.B.I. and a rival professor are all out to get the professor and the student.

The other two Westin novels are The Anchor War, about a battle for a $2.5-million-a-year TV anchor job as the war on Iraq wages in 1991, and Stealing the White House, about a losing candidate's attempt to steal the presidency in the Electcoral College.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for Christmas Village?

Jack Gilhooly: In our house, we have set up Christmas villages for years, going back to when we purchased an It's a Wonderful Life Village. I have often thought how interesting it would be if I could actually visit inside a little village like that. I thought it had the makings of a story children would love.

Jennifer Walker: What made you decide to become a writer and when did you start?

Jack Gilhooly: I have been writing ever since I was about twenty-five years old or so. Did a lot of writing over the years (I am sixty-six now). Always loved writing humor. I would sit at the typewriter and laugh as I wrote. Now I am publishing much of the writing I did.

Jennifer Walker: What part of writing is challenging for you?

Jack Gilhooly: Well, let's see. Revising is challenging. Proofreading is like trying to find an ant in a totally dark room. Marketing the books is, for me, about as much fun as heart surgery. But when you see the final book ... it is all worth it.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process? Do you outline first or just start writing, do you have any writing habits or quirks, etc.?

Jack Gilhooly: I usually have a general idea of where I want the story to go, but I don't outline in detail because I want the story and the dialogue to be spontaneous. I will often sete aside a novel for a long time, then come back to it and decide that it has possibilities. Then I will finish it.

Jennifer Walker: Do you work with a writing mentor or critique group to improve your writing? How does it work for you?

Jack Gilhooly: I have usually worked alone. Years ago I took a creative writing class at Harvard. First semester, the professor loved my writing. The second semester they changed professors and she hated my writing.

I think joining a writing group would be very enjoyable, as long as you don't let the criticism of others stifle your creativity.

Jennifer Walker: Which is harder: writing a book or marketing it? Why?

Jack Gilhooly: As I mentioned, marketing a book is harder for me. Like trying to sell ice to an eskimo.

Jennifer Walker: Which is your favorite holiday, and why?

Jack Gilhooly: Christmas. From celebrating the birth of Christ to watching the movie White Christmas to family dinners and of course Christmas villages, I like it all.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about a Christmas tradition in your family and what makes it special.

Jack Gilhooly: My wife and the friends who help her decorate elaborately, inside and out, every Christmas. It makes it special. And as I have told my wife, it is like living in a float. I sometimes think she spends more on decorations than Macy's does.

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