First, a bit about John:
John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he’s a Lutheran minister, husband, and father of two. He graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a theatre major, and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. By night, he writes unusual stories of geeky grace. He lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and two boys.
You can contact him here.
And find him at www.facebook.com/
Now, for the questions!
First things first, why did you become a writer? When did you start? What inspired you?
In some ways, I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I used to put together really badly drawn comic books (think crudely drawn stick figure aliens whose stories were thinly-veiled plagiarism from my favorite TV shows). When I realized that I was a lousy artist, I graduated to badly-written novels. Seriously, they were awful. As of right now, I have no idea where the hard copies of those books are. I’m hoping they’ve been destroyed, but I don’t know for sure.
I “got serious” about my writing career lots of times. For example, in high school, I wrote a query letter to a random literary agent I found in the phone book. He let me down somewhat gently. But I really committed about fifteen years ago when I wrote a science fiction trilogy and decided that I just had to sell it to someone. This was back before the big ebook publishing revolution, so the only path available to me was the traditional model involving agents and publishing houses and all that. So I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and signed up for a critique group. That particular sci fi trilogy has been shelved due to some massive problems with the story, but that was what got me on the path toward publication.
I guess what really inspired me was the fact that I just loved books when I was growing up. I was a voracious reader. When my family would go on vacations, we would have to pack a crate filled with books for my siblings and I to read on the road. That got frustrating for my parents, because we’d be driving by something impressive they wanted us to see, and they had to argue with us to actually put down the books long enough to look. The reading eventually led to a desire to write.
Hahaha, I can understand that! A good book is so hard to set aside!
Who are your favorite authors? Inspiring or simply enjoyable.
My favorite author right now is Brandon Sanderson. I got clued into his stuff by Jill Williamson and after reading Steelheart, I was just hooked. I’ve been devouring everything of his that’s coming out (as a matter of fact, I think I might be almost as excited that his Bands of Mourning is releasing as I am for the release of The Hive). He does a simply phenomenal job of constructing deep storyworlds that make me jealous of his talent.
But I’m also very partial to the writing of Michael Stackpole as well. I first discovered his Star Wars novels, but I enjoyed them so much that I decided to check out his non-Star Wars books and I haven’t regretted that at all. He too has some really creative storyworlds and fun characters and stories that make me come back for more.
What inspired The Hive story?
Unfortunately, I don’t really remember what inspired this story. I think it was a case where I wanted to write another story in the same world as Numb. So I asked myself, “What would happen next?” And the more I thought about it, the more I focused on one really minor character from Numb and asked, “What would happen with him, given what he went through?” And the more I thought about it, the more pieces of The Hive started to come together until I had the kernel of a story idea.
I know I’m being kind of vague with all of this, but a lot of what I’m talking about is really spoiler-y for both Numb and The Hive.
Hm....now I want to pick up Numb and see what connections I can find!
Where did Zain's character come from? How did her story come to you? Was she always a cyborg? Pregnant? On the run? Or did things start differently for her?
Once I had the story fragments I was talking about earlier, Zain pretty much showed up the way she was. I knew I wanted her to be a cyborg and she had to be pregnant and on the run. So Zain’s basic story was always there.
Now that doesn’t mean that there weren’t changes to that story. In the earliest drafts, Zain was a cry-er. Big time. As in just about every single chapter ended with her weeping uncontrollably. I think my agent was the one who really noticed this trend and asked me why she was crying so much all the time. So I went through and cut out most of the crying jags and tried to make her stronger.
Even being a girl I've found that it's tough to write a girl that's strong but still girly without diminishing her to a teary-eyed mess. I've got to hand it to you, Zain is a fairly perfect balance!
Thanks for stopping by!
Check out The Hive and John's other books on Amazon.