Title: THE MINE
Author: John A. Heldt
Genres: Romance-Time Travel, Historical Fiction.
Description: In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a product of the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in the small towns and suburbs of Oregon and Washington, the third oldest of six kids, and began writing professionally when I got out of college. For about a dozen years I wrote and edited sports articles for daily newspapers. I switched careers in the late 1990s and now work as a reference librarian in a public library. I’m also a married father of three who enjoys sports, fishing, and making homemade beer.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I decided to write The Mine, my first novel and the first book of the Northwest Passage series in the summer of 2011, after reading and watching The Time Traveler’s Wife. I enjoyed both the book and the movie but was inspired more by the possibilities of twentieth century time travel than that particular story. Within minutes, I sketched the outline of a story about a cocky college student in 2000 who travels back to 1941 – six months before Pearl Harbor. He knows war is coming to the U.S. and isn’t all that thrilled about jumping into it. But the decision to return to 2000 becomes complicated after he befriends his future grandmother and a shy honors student who becomes the love of his life. I wrote The Journey and The Show, the sequel to The Mine, shortly thereafter and decided to turn what was supposed to be a one-time project into a pastime.
How do you create your characters?
First, I determine the type of characters I need to tell the story. If I need a bad boy with issues, a flirty college girl, or a thoughtful Army officer, I put them in the script. Then I give them the characteristics they need to make the story work. Some critics did not like that Grace Vandenberg was too nice and too nice-looking to be true. They wanted her to have significant flaws. That’s a valid view. But I wanted her to be very appealing for a reason. In The Mine and The Show, three men hastily propose marriage to Grace, moving the stories along at critical times. That probably doesn’t happen if she is mean or conceited or has a huge wart on her nose.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
Though I wrote for newspapers for many years, I am fairly new to novel writing. I wrote The Mine two years ago because it was the top item on my bucket list. Now, I write novels because it is my passion. There are few things more exciting and rewarding than putting a story on paper – or, in my case, a digital file – and sharing it with readers who might enjoy it.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I do most of my writing in my bedroom or in the dining room – wherever I can find quiet time with my laptop. As for music and drink, I’ve found that songs from the era I’m writing about and well-crafted pale ales do wonders for inspiration.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
The ideas just come to me over time, usually after I watch certain movies or read certain books or observe events on the news. I typically have a detailed outline of a story finished before I write the first word. I also come up with ideas, refinements, and plot twists on long walks. I’ve found that a long walk with the dog is an excellent way to clear a cluttered mind and look at a story from a fresh perspective.
What do you like to read?
I like thrillers, adventure stories, and historical fiction. I’m a big fan of about a half-dozen authors: Vince Flynn, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Ken Follett, John Grisham, and Jeff Shaara. I typically stick with fiction but occasionally stray. Right now I’m reading The Big Burn by Timothy Egan, a riveting non-fiction account of the Great Fire of 1910.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Don’t put off any project. Jump in. Listen to those who’ve succeeded and to those who’ve failed. You can learn from both. But in the end, write the story you want to write. Don’t let the critic overrule the artist.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have a blog at: http://johnheldt.blogspot.com