Interview with John Heldt author of THE MINE

Thanks for taking the time to visit Manic Readers, John.

You’re currently a reference librarian. You’re a former newspaper editor and have won awards for your sports writing. Have you always had a love for the written word?

Yes. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But I am someone who would rather see the words. There is a reason why consumers of good stories prefer the book to the movie. You can do so much more with words.

Did you start reading at an early age?

Not particularly early. I don’t remember reading before first grade, but I made up for lost time. While my classmates read Dr. Seuss and Dick and Jane, I went through the World Book Encyclopedia and reference books. My parents thought they had a prodigy on their hands until I started bringing home average report cards. You can imagine their surprise when they discovered I was just a kid who liked facts and articles on people and places. 



How do you go from newspapers and sports to THE MINE, a time travel with romantic elements novel?

It was a natural progression. Even when I covered sports for a living, I wanted to write a novel that addressed all of my interests, experiences, and vocations. THE MINE covers college life, journalism, librarianship, education, sports, outdoor recreation, and travel throughout the Pacific Northwest. I had a lot of fun tying them together. The romance part came later. When I began writing THE MINE, I had time-travel tale in mind, a coming-of-age adventure story. But somewhere between Chapters 28 and 34, my adventurous protagonist fell for a blue-eyed blonde, lost his way, and a romance novel was born. Rather than shy away from that element, I ran with it and have never regretted it. I’ve come to believe that a novel without a love story is incomplete.

Can you tell us a bit about THE MINE?

This is a book that defies labels, in part because I did not write for a particular genre. There is humor in THE MINE, as well as adventure, history, time travel, and an old-fashioned love story that I think will resonate with those who yearn for a simpler time. My protagonist, Joel Smith, is a pretty pampered guy. He has a good heart, but he is spoiled. He has movie-star looks, an encyclopedic mind, a loving family, and all the toys and opportunities a modern man could ask for. He has never known want and sacrifice. But that changes when he wanders through a time portal to 1941. THE MINE chronicles Joel’s evolution from a shallow, self-absorbed college student to a thoughtful, even courageous young man. The book also raises issues that those of us stuck in the present will never have to address. It prompts us to ask what we would do if we were thrown into the past and carried our knowledge with us. Would we willingly, even forcefully, change the fate of others or let destiny take its course? Joel struggles with that and other ethical questions throughout the book.

Do you have a work in progress you can talk about?

I am working on another time-travel novel. In this one, a middle-aged widow returns to the time and place of her senior year in high school and befriends her younger self. I expect to have it finished by April.

Is there anything you require to write? Do you have a muse?

Music. When writing about a particular time period, it helps to listen to music from that era. I listened to a lot of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey when I wrote THE MINE.

Who’s in control when you’re creating, you or the characters?

That’s a great question. I’m tempted to say that I’m in control. After all, the author creates the characters. But once I become deeply immersed in a work, the characters come alive. They are real and have demands. They insist on consistency and authenticity. In the end, they run the show.

How do you feel about e-books?

I have mixed thoughts. As a reader, I still favor books in print. I like the feel and convenience of paper. But as an author, I’m quickly warming to digital media. And, as a self-published author, I appreciate how e-books are tearing down barriers.

What kind of fishing do you enjoy, deep sea, fly, plain ol’ rod & reel from a bank or boat? What’s your opinion of cane poles with orange bobbers?

I have done all kinds of fishing. I once caught my weight in salmon off the Washington coast, pulled a 14-pounder out of Lake Michigan, and have fly-fished the south fork of the Flathead, one of the most scenic rivers in the country. But I’m mainly a rod-and-reel-from-the-bank kind of guy. Cane poles and orange bobbers? Let me at ’em.

Do you have a favorite book?

“Wildfire” by Nelson DeMille.

What’s the last book you read that blew you away?

“Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett.

Currently reading anything worth mentioning?

 I’m giving Nicholas Sparks a whirl. “The Lucky One” is interesting.

Anything you really want to accomplish in the near future?

I’d like to see more of this country, particularly New England and parts of the South.

I can highly recommend some parts of the South.

Favorite way to relax?

I like to walk – sometimes with the family dog, sometimes without. Walking is a great way to exercise and clear your mind. Some of my best ideas have come from very short strolls. 


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2 comments to Interview with John Heldt author of THE MINE

  • To Ivy & John-thanks for the great interview; quite informative & interesting. I will check out your newest book-I too still prefer books to the e-reads and love to fish! Guess I am showing my age!

  • Jeanne Miro

    John –

    What first caught my eye was the title of your book – The Mine – and that title took me back to the early 1980’s when we also had a downturn in the economy in the construction section here in Rhode Island. Since he was self-employed there were no food stamps, no health insurance, no un-employemnt to collect.

    Food was still needed to be put on the table for our sons who were in gradeschool and the mortgage still needed to be paid and no work to be found.

    My husband ended up going to Arizona and worked underground in a copper mine. I have a feeling that Joel, like my husband, will take destiny into his own hands and while Joel struggles with ethical questions my husband dealt with the pain of being away from his family but found satisfaction in doing what had to be done.

    I’d love to win a copy of The Mine and find out how Joel responds to the situations he confronts.