I’m super thrilled to have Jon Merz on the blog today for an interview to tell us about himself and his great series featuring Lawson a kung fu bad ass who just happen to be a vampire. Cool stuff
Please tell us about yourself -
I describe myself as a “writer, producer, ninja” because it pretty much defines who I am. As a writer, I’ve written close to 30 novels, including 11 installments in the internationally bestselling Rogue Angel series from Harlequin/Gold Eagle. My Lawson Vampire series is what I’m perhaps best known for and May 2012 marks the 10th year since Lawson debuted in 2002′s The Fixer from Pinnacle Books. I’ve also written several standalone thrillers and mysteries. As a producer, I’ve formed an independent production company, New Ronin Entertainment, to bring my Lawson series to TV. We’re also going to be producing feature films with a variety of content partners. And as a ninja, I’ve been studying authentic Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu for over 20 years and earned my 5th degree black belt directly from the 34th Grandmaster of the system during a trip to Japan in February 2003.
Apart from that, I previously served in the US Air Force, worked for the US government, and then handled executive protection for Fortune 500 clients. I’m married with two sons and live in suburban Boston.
What is your work space and routine like? -
I have a home office and very soon an office at the production facility. I love working from home because it lets me work whenever the creative juices are flowing. My office is pretty much decorated with a variety of weird toys, posters, books, comics, drawings, martial arts weapons, and more. I love putting odd things next to each other and seeing what ideas their placement prompts in my mind. It’s always fun trying to drum up ways that the die cast Mazinger Z robot I picked up in Japan could work with picture of Wolverine. It’s a cool exercise that helps prompt other ideas and story lines. Even if I don’t use any of them, per se, the fact that I try to concoct really wild plots helps with fleshing out actual projects.
As far as routines go, I work consistently. In first draft, or what I affectionately call my “puke it out phase,” I spend an hour writing a chapter of 2,000 words. Then I’ll take a break, get away from the computer for at least fifteen minutes before I come back and do it all again. My routine changes slightly when I’m refining the work, editing, and so forth, but during that hauling ass first draft stage, it’s very important to me to get the story out as quickly as possible.
Favorite authors and books? -
David Morrell’s Brotherhood of the Rose is perhaps the finest example of a thriller I can think of. He really started me on the path to writing thrillers. Stephen King’s short stories are excellent teaching tools in and of themselves. How he’s able to so perfectly capture a complete story, character, etc. within the confines of a short story is amazing.
Other favorite authors of mine: Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, Robert Leslie Bellem, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Howard, JRR Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Douglas Adams, Daniel Pinkwater, Nathaniel Philbrick and so many more it would take days to list them all.
Recent favorite books (because, again, I’ve got so many) include Sea of Glory by Nathaniel Philbrick, Grimalkin the Witch Assassin by Joseph Delaney, and the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
What are you reading now?
Cherub: Mission 4 The Killing by Robert Muchamore. I can’t lie, I love a ton of middle grade and YA stuff. I think in some ways, it’s more imaginative than a lot of adult fiction these days. Plus, I have this incredible indie bookstore – Park Street Books in Medfield, MA – that is a joy to browse through and find new stuff to read. The owner Jim is a textbook example of how to do it right; friendly, incredibly knowledgable, and able to get any book within a few days with a nice discount. People wonder a lot these days about bookstores and whether ebooks will drive them into extinction (and I’ve certainly fallen in love with ebooks given that I sell so many of them) but Park Street Books is a thriving environment for book junkies of all ages. I hope it’s around for decades!
Tell me about the TV adaption of The Fixer -
As with anything relating to Hollywood, there have been a lot of starts and stops. My business partner Jaime Hassett and I have met with tons of potential investors, and the stories we have as a result of pitching some of these “colorful” folks defy reason and rational thought. Seriously. We joke that once we get the cameras rolling and people ask about our adventure to-date, no one will ever believe the crap we’ve gone through. But that said, we are at last getting close to starting the production. We’re independent, so that makes it all the more challenging. But the rewards are so worth it. And as the creator of the series, I get to maintain control over story arcs, continuity with the novels, etc. I think you’re going to see a lot more of this in the future as technology changes the way people get their content.
THE FIXER itself has been cast and crewed with folks from the New England area. It’s our goal with New Ronin to produce TV, web series, and feature films using people from our region as opposed to importing them from Los Angeles or New York. New England has enough talent to satisfy anyone’s needs. And we’re proud to be championing the region for its resources and talent. The official website for the show is at http://thefixer.tv
Will there be more Lawson and will there be new non Lawson books to look forward to? -
LOTS more Lawson. In fact, in just a few days, a new novella rolls off the ebook presses, MISSION: Malta, which takes place back in 1983. I’ve got a special 10 Year Retrospective coming out as well. And more Lawson novels are in the works, including a spin-off series starring Lawson’s girlfriend, Talya. Non-Lawson stuff includes a brand new boys’ adventure series, THE NINJA APPRENTICE and some other standalone thrillers.
I’ve only read one of your books The Kensei is this the book you would recommend new readers to your work start with or is there one in particular that should be the first Jon Merz read?
The Kensei is a great place to start, or they could go back and read The Fixer first, since it’s technically the first in the series. Parallax is also what I consider to be one of my best thrillers. It’s a standalone, but a very good introduction to the type of material I write.
Without your military and martial arts background what kind of books do you think you’d be writing instead? -
Hmm, interesting question. I don’t know that I’d even be writing without my military and martial arts background, frankly, because I don’t know that I ever would have learned how to persevere and achieve the goals I set for myself without that training. A lot of people dream about doing things, and I was always certainly a dreamer, but the military and martial arts gave me the perseverance and discipline to go after what I wanted and get it. It taught me to aspire to excellence in everything I undertake, and never settle for mediocrity or for a life that others consider normal, but that would bore the heck out of me.
So would I even be a writer? Probably not.