Let Me Introduce You To…John Fitch V

Tonight’s author is probably one of the most prolific writers you’ve never heard of! I hope you have, but chances are, unless you’ve been fortunate enough to come across one of his books or to meet him on Facebook, you probably have no clue who John Fitch V is. And I think that’s a shame! So that’s why I decided to introduce you to him to night…to let you get to know an up and coming author and hopefully, find some top notch books to read while you’re at it!

The following is his bio taken directly from his website. It will give you insight into this fantastic author and where he’s coming from in the books that he writes:

Born in the city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1977, Fitch’s love of fantasy began 11 years later when he was handed J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit. His passion for writing began in 1993, as a sophomore in high school, when he began to write sports for his local newspaper, the Sentinel & Enterprise. Since then, he has written for several Massachusetts newspapers, including the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester and the Southbridge Evening News  in Southbridge. He has since returned to where it all started, as he came back to the Sentinel in April 2008. He also strings for the Springfield Republican and Turley Publications.

Among his literary influences include the king of fantasy, Tolkien, as well as R.A. Salvatore. In addition, Fitch enjoys Steven Savile, Vince Flynn, J.K. Rowling, Jim C. Hines, David Forbes, John Grisham, and Brad Meltzer novels, as well as classic storytellers C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Shakespeare. Star Wars novels fill an entire bookcase in his office.

It was Salvatore, the acclaimed fantasy author, who convinced Fitch to pen the manuscript that became Obloeron: The Quest For The Chalice in December 2001. He began writing Quest over a year later, in January 2003, finishing the first draft in February 2005.

John Fitch V is a pseudonym chosen in honor of the late Robert Cormier, a native son of Leominster, Massachusetts. Cormier, when writing for the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg, wrote under the pseudonym of John Fitch IV.

When he is not writing, Fitch enjoys playing golf, reading, watching movies, and playing with his kitten, Caramel the Wonder Cat.

Recently, I had a chance to ask John a few questions. Here’s what he had to say about his books, his passion, and his plans for the future!

1) Tell us a little about your books. Which was your first book? Which would you say is your favorite…or your labor of love?

My books are an eclectic bunch, if I may say so myself. My first novel was a fantasy novel entitled Obloeron: The Quest For The Chalice, which was a two-year struggle for me. I started writing Quest in January 2003; I was out of work at the time. A year or so earlier, I had met R.A. Salvatore at the bookstore I was working at (Bob lives in Leominster, Mass., while I live in Fitchburg, Mass., neighboring cities). We had discussed his books and how he had landed his Star Wars gigs, and I brought the conversation around to how I could land a Star Wars gig; I’m a huge fan of the Expanded Universe. He told me to write my own characters and storylines, developing my style as I went. I wrote the first four chapters of Quest in a month, and my thought process seized up after the first line of Chapter 5. I put it on the shelf for a few months, and then I wrote Ch. 5 after my father passed away. It went back on the shelf for a year, until I saw Bob speaking at the Westminster, Mass. library. He inspired me to finish the novel, which I finally did. What I wanted to do was just tell a fun story about a halfling named Yanos and his friend, a dwarf king named Radamuck. As the story evolved, it became the tale of Grumpet T. Paddymeyer who had this unknown destiny; heck, I didn’t even know of his destiny until I wrote the second book. Obloeron has just been this one long stream of consciousness over the past seven years!

My favorite book to write (that is out) would be Turning Back The Clock, my baseball time travel/thriller novel.

2) When did you first start writing? What is the catalyst that drove you to have such a passion for it?

I started writing “professionally” in 1993, when I was 16 ½. I started out as a cub reporter for my local newspaper, covering games and writing features and pretty much anything they asked of me; they were paying me to do something that I really enjoyed! Of course, I was getting into the games for free, and that was pretty cool. When did I start writing novels? January 2003. I’ve always been a storyteller and an entertainer; I can remember back to 1987, when I was 10 years old, my cousin and I were walking home from the store after buying a gallon of milk for my aunt, his mother, and he was tossing the jug up in the air and catching it. Well, to make a long story short (too late), he missed the catch and the jug landed on the street. When we got home, I called my mom and told her what happened – in front of my aunt and my cousin. My aunt told me, “I don’t know what it is about the births of 1977, but you all have the knack to tell stories.”

I would presume the catalyst is my uncontrollable desire to entertain the masses with my stories.

3) Your publishing experience seems very different than many authors out there. You are truly a “do-it-yourselfer”….write, cover design, format…what is your opinion on independent publishing vs. “traditional” venues of publishing? What are the pros and cons of doing things the way you’ve done them?

My opinion has varied over the past few years. I have come to this realization, though. Doing it yourself without the assistance of a publisher, whether one based in New York or in someone’s living room, is TOUGH. Plain and simple. An independent author has to be a driven individual to overcome the absence of a publisher, in the traditional sense. An indie author has to wear many hats. When I started out, I handled everything: project conception, writing, editing, cover design. And it’s tough to do all of this as a one-man (one-woman, for our friends of the feminine gland, to quote Sherman T. Potter) operation. There have been many times where I’ve wondered if I could go on doing it this way, but I buckled down and did it because I wanted my stories out there. Thankfully I now have a team: my girlfriend Estee handles the major edits and puts together the marketing budget, my friend Steve handles the final proofread; another friend, Trisha, is my graphic designer who designed the cover for A Galaxy At War and the eBook cover for Quest, and my friend Laura took the picture that is Quest’s cover and she’s scouring the land for the cover of the second Obloeron novel eBook. It’s still tough to publish on your own, but having friends that care in your corner makes it all worthwhile. I’m big into digital publishing, especially for the Kindle. When Kobo is released in the US, I’ll release my books on Kobo.

The pros to doing it yourself: not having to share your profits with an agent, meeting great people in the form of established authors who are genuine and want to help you (I’ve met many, including Steven Savile, Jim C. Hines, some Holloway character, to name a few).

The cons: not having a publisher’s backing, the POD set up, having generic covers if you don’t have artistic talent, having that dreaded indie/self-pubbed stigma, having to do excessive self-promoting in order to let people know about your books.

4) Pinning you down to a particular genre seems near impossible. You’ve written pure sci-fi, fantasy, Christian fiction and even a thriller about baseball. Is this intentional? Do you intentionally write in a different genre or do you just write what comes to mind at any given moment?

It was simply by accident, I assure you. When I began, I wanted to be a fantasy author: I wrote the three books to The Obloeron Trilogy back-to-back-to-back. Then I wrote the Christian fantasy novel on a whim; some people wondered how I could consider myself a Christian if I wrote fantasy novels that harped on what they considered devil worshipping, i.e. magic. My reply: “You must have never heard of C.S. Lewis, then.” The baseball novel came next. I still write fantasy-based stories: I’ll be writing another this fall, and I’ve spent the past two or three years writing the Obloeron prequels. I think they are better than the first three, which I believe is because I’ve grown as a writer since I first wrote about Yanos. The first prequel is coming out this fall, too, and then the others will be staggered releases over the next two years. But my niche is turning into sports fiction, which I don’t have a problem with at all.

5) Going back to your baseball thriller…Turning Back the Clock…about a guy going back in time to change the history of baseball? How on earth did you ever come up with an idea like that? I know I didn’t do the story justice, so share a little about the origin and premise of this story for us.

To be honest, the concept was not originally mine. I was finishing up Quest’s first draft when a friend of mine told me he wanted to write a book about a Red Sox fan who went back in time to 1919 to stop the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. I was floored. I then cursed myself for not coming up with the idea first, but I thought it was a fantastic concept. It was the book I would want to read. So I encouraged him to write it. He didn’t get very far; I think he wrote maybe 10 pages and quit. As time went on, I kept asking him about the project, and he said he didn’t get much done on it. It came down to October 2006, and I needed something to write. Once again, I was out of full-time work. Once again, I asked him how he was coming along with that project, and he said the same thing. I asked him if I could take it on, and he said be my guest. I started from scratch, doing my own research; I did loads of it, reading books that I had on hand as well as trolling the ‘Net for information. I kept the whole Babe Ruth angle, but I expanded it: I included the Black Sox Scandal, a love story, and another twist to the scandal. The novel is a very personal story: Being a Red Sox fan, we’ve always been downtrodden by the Yankees, and this was a way to take the Yankee Empire down – in literary form (read: Yankee fans, it’s a story of fiction. You still have your 27 world titles.). In addition, the prologue was very much a personal part of the story: everything in the prologue happened to me. It’s a great question, though: What would have happened if Babe Ruth was never traded from Boston to New York? What if Harry Frazee had an alternative to New York? The protagonists set out to give Frazee the alternative.

6) What new project are you currently working on? What can people look forward to reading from you in the future?

The easier question to ask is what am I NOT working on? Right now, I’m working on the follow-up to Turning Back The Clock, a baseball thriller that involves a sportswriter who uncovers a plot by a team owner to deceive his fans; this one will probably come out in time for Opening Day 2011. In about three weeks, Estee and I will be jumping into the final edits of the first Obloeron prequel, which, like I said, will be released in the fall, and I’m also going to do heavy revisions for a set of Obloeron short stories that I wrote last fall. After that, I’m going to be giving a thriller manuscript I wrote back in January/February its first read-through and edit, but I don’t plan on releasing that for another two years; I actually have a traditional publisher in mind for that, it’s that big of a story. I may have a laid back summer, writing-wise; sure, I’ll promote, but writing will be low-key. I do plan on writing the outline for the first Obloeron sequel novel at some point this summer. I also have a young adult novel coming out in summer 2011. I have enough projects on my plate to keep readers happy until 2014 and maybe beyond. I also want to branch into audio books at some point.

I set a goal on New Year’s Eve: write three books this year that total or exceed 250,000 words. I’m nearing the end of the second book, and I’m closing in on 170,000 words for the first two projects combined. I may even add another book to that total, and maybe a fifth. I’ve been told that I must be the most prolific independent author out there. I enjoy writing that much!

7) Finally, John, what piece of advice would you give a newbie writer?

I have tons. First, read every day. This generation of readers is the next generation of writers. Secondly, write the book you would want to read. KISS put on the concert they would have wanted to be in the audience to watch; you, as an author, should want to read the book you’re writing. And third, be prepared for rejection. I have always said the best prerequisite to be a writer is to be a teenager first. What teenager doesn’t go through rejection and the feeling of inadequacy? Writers are rejected many times: agents, publishers, sometimes by readers. Writers go through tons of self-doubt and inadequacy, much like an awkward teen. Learn to conquer that, and you’ve got it made.

www.johnfitchv.com is my web site, people can learn about my books there.

Thank you John for such a candid look into your writing and future career as a writer. I hope you all, my readers, will check out John’s book on Amazon! They will definitely be well worth taking a look at and you might just find a new favorite author.

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