Let me give you a bit of the unvarnished truth about myself. I publish my work under the pseudonym John Lawe.

Unlike many authors, I didn’t grow up always wanting to write. I didn’t even like to read. My interest in reading and writing came later in my journey, but more on that later.

After reaching adulthood, in the chronological sense, I completed my college education, served in the Army and then chose a career in law enforcement. As an FBI agent, I investigated a wide variety of crimes; theft, fraud, fugitives, extortion and kidnapping, to name a few. After my federal employment, I worked as an investigator for an agency that regulated the ethical conduct of Oregon public officials. My investigative experiences have also included being a licensed private investigator and a volunteer detective on a cold case squad.

As to my interest in reading and writing, I was a homesteader for seven years on an island in southeast Alaska, seventeen miles from nowhere. With little to no experience, I had to learn everything about building a cabin, a water system and installing a flush toilet [My wife insisted on this]. With no internet, books provided most of my information and training.

I have vivid memories of how, after dark, I would sit with my books in our 10’x13’ canvas wall tent. By candle light, I would read how to lay out the floor, erect a wall and frame a window or whatever the next stage required. The following day I would go to the building site and make use of the knowledge I acquired in our dimly lit tent. Day by day, step by step I finished our cabin. The process of building, creating a water system and installing a septic tank, taught me that I could learn to do anything from books.

When construction was done and winter set in, I began to read fiction. Every two weeks we took our skiff into the nearest town. We’d do our subsistence hunting in the grocery store, pickup mail and check out as many library books as we could carry. I enjoyed a variety of stories but I was drawn to mysteries, real crime, suspense and spy thrillers. There are many good authors to choose from, but one who stood out in my formative years, as a reader and writer, was the late, Robert B. Parker. I enjoyed the artful way he used “smart-alecky” dialogue to entertain as he tweaked the tension and pacing in his stories.

During my homesteading years, I developed a desire to create stories drawing on my real life experiences as an investigator and as an observer of human nature, good and bad. A Christian worldview is often reflected in my writing. The prism through which I observe life is framed by Biblical teaching. On the personal side, I have an informed faith in God’s promise of salvation through Christ, my Savior and Advocate.

When life in the “writing trench” gets me down, I look at a framed quote from W. Somerset Maugham over my desk:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Don’t ask me why, but the saying brings a smile to my lips.

I live in Oregon on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley. My wife, partner and soul-mate keeps me company and our two Border Terriers provide entertainment. When I am not writing, weather permitting, I go cycling, swim in the river out back or do “yucky” yard work.

Thank you for the visit.

John Lawe

Q&A with John Lawe

Why do you write?

The entire process is enjoyable to me. After an idea for a storyline forms in my mind, the creative energy cranks up. The joy comes when my imagination generates faster than I can write. Drudgery settles in when my imagination goes on vacation.

I’m also gratified by the sense of accomplishment when a story’s manuscript is complete. I use the word complete because I never consider a manuscript finished. My penchant for revising makes me reluctant to submit a manuscript. In the end, my fear of a “failure to launch” motivates me to let go and move to the next project.

Do you write anything other than mystery novels?

Currently, doing research and writing novels in the mystery and suspense genres is what I enjoy. I’m most comfortable with these stories because they deal with fictional characters and events inspired by the experiences and observations I enjoyed in my professional life.

I plan to take up blogging and use Twitter, Facebook and e-mail as forms of communication. Those activities are new to me but relate to my interest in writing. However, my skills in social media and all of the new ways to communicate are limited. I need crampons for my climb into cyberspace.

Where do you get story ideas for your novels?

My ideas come from past experiences, conversations, news stories and observations of people and events.

New ideas occur as I research subjects related to any one of my story ideas. I record the ideas and set them aside for future development. One of my current stories required me to learn about Oregon’s initiative process. As I studied the issue and considered events in my story, I ran across rumors of a network of tunnels under the City of Salem during the late 1800s. The tunnels were reportedly used by Chinese laborers. The rumored tunnels had nothing to do with my research, but gave me fertile ground for new story ideas. I am unsure of the factual basis for these rumors, but let the imagination run.

Your characters occasionally express Christian worldviews or beliefs. Does that affect a story’s appeal?

I don’t know. What a person reads for pleasure is a personal choice. Those choices are influenced by any number of factors, both subjective and objective. A reader of fiction may be drawn to a book because of the genre; a cover design; the story’s description, cost and so on.

There are a few characters in my novels who express or act out their Christian faith. My stories have both saints and sinners. That’s life, look around. There are Christians playing various roles in the activities and events that make up your daily life now. I believe stories that include Christian characters are as authentic a representation of everyday life as stories that may be devoid of such characters.

I’ve read books with worldviews and beliefs contrary to my own. Unless the content is too gross or graphic for me, I’m able to appreciate a writer’s skill and creativity. Why wouldn’t someone who has a different worldview than one reflected in my books do likewise?

Christians today are bombarded with media content that is often offensive or attacks what they believe. As readers, I believe they would appreciate a story that entertains, while reinforcing their beliefs and avoids the use of coarse language and sexual content.

Do you think some Christian readers might object to violence in your stories?

Perhaps, but I don’t use violence unless it advances the story. If I can introduce violence by implication instead of description, I will. I avoid its gratuitous use.

If a reader chooses a murder mystery, I don’t think they should be shocked to find violence as part of the tale. A reader once told me that one of my stories was intense. I thought, at the time, what did he expect? When you have a conflict between good and evil there tends to be tension.

Your characters, at times, express views which may not be politically correct. Does that affect a story’s appeal?

Maybe, but I’m not a politically correct kind of guy. I don’t go out of my way to offend, but I’m offended by ignorance. I find a lot of “PC” views to be nonsense. I never cease to be amazed by people who parrot what they have been told and don’t take the time to consider if what they say is true. What ever happened to critical thinking?