Who is John Nelson?
John Nelson is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and former Special Forces Medic. He’s now the Director of Quality and Risk Management, Patient Safety, and Infection Control at a community hospital in Utah.
Mr. Nelson, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Who is Dr. Serena Salus and how did you go about creating her character?
She’s the brilliant and radical lead scientist who is seeking a cure for a fatal disease introduced to earth in the wound of a now deceased astronaut.
Her name means calm healer and I tried to make that fit the character. She’s an egalitarian trying to walk a true and enlightened path like Jesus or Gandhi, but she’s not an all-knowing, infallible super-hero. She is full of contradictions and vulnerabilities. As a main character, she serves as a measuring stick to judge the actions and motives of many of the other characters around her.
How did it happen that you wanted to become a writer?
It just kind of happened. Fiction writing has become my preferred outlet of expression. Some people express themselves through music or art; I express myself best through fiction writing.
How did you turn Against Nature from an idea in your mind to a published book?
The inspiration for Against Nature came to me a few years following 9/11. The headlines read like an Orwellian dystopia with tales of secret prisons, torture, extraordinary rendition, wars built on falsified intelligence, domestic spying, suspended habeas corpus and ignoring the Geneva Convention and the rule of law.
I felt we were one significant catastrophic event from devolving into a dystopian society. I saw the road signs and wanted to write a cautionary tale in the spirit of Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury and Crichton. The catalyst in my story is a global pandemic; a disease without a cure. As the bodies stack up and a cure’s not on the immediate horizon, the government acts much like they did after 9/11, but the sins and misdeeds perpetrated overseas wash up on our shores and come back to haunt us.
I thought it was an intriguing and relevant storyline where I could use contemporary facts, add in some plausible fiction and then blur the lines between them to create a pretty frightening modern dystopian thriller. My publisher, Wild Child publishing also though the manuscript had promise and I managed to get it published. It was a long road from inception to published novel, but it was well worth the journey.
A word of advice for new writers?
Some say “write what you know” and I think that’s good advice, but I’d also say “write the book you want to read.” That’s what I did. I wanted to read a modern adult dystopia set in the post 9/11 landscape, but I couldn’t find any. So I wrote one.
What is your typical writing day?
I write in spurts. When I feel inspired and I get in that “zone” I write intensely. When I’m not in the zone, I go back and edit, fix typos and grammar issues…. The boring stuff!
What are your favorite pastimes?
I like to write, I enjoy politics, baseball and fishing. I also enjoy a decent classic rock cover band, a crowded dance floor, and a cold Hefeweizen.
What other books are you working on at the moment?
I’m in the re-write/edit stages of Grey Suits, a novel based on Napoleon’s quote: “history is a lie agreed upon.” It’s a conspiracy thriller.
What do you like to read and what are you reading now?
I like books that are smart, well crafted, and fast paced. I’m not a big fan of novels with a predicable ending or infallible characters. I like books that make me think. I’m reading Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. I really liked the premise of the book and thought it might be smart and insightful. I’m not finished yet, but so far the premise is better than the storyline.
What can readers expect to find in Against Nature?
You can expect a complicated, yet fast-paced thriller with rich characters. I didn’t want to write a story that was black and white. I wanted it to be more like life; many shades of gray. If you’re looking for something different then Against Nature may be for you. Here are a few comments from professional reviewers:
“Get ready for a ride of a lifetime”–Emily Tanner Atlanta Fiction Examiner
“You want dystopia? Nelson provides it in spades”- David M. Kinchen Huntington News