If you created the character of John Dixon, he would almost defy belief.
A boxer who has a way with words, a fanboy who yearns to write like his heroes, a beloved teacher who walks away from the classroom to follow his dream.
John Dixon is all those things and more. Not long ago, this former Golden Gloves boxer did indeed leave behind his job as a middle-school English teacher to chase his goal of being a published author. What happened next is almost too good to be true.
After years of honing his craft, releasing imaginative short stories and other works in a wide range of genres, John wrote the thriller that became PHOENIX ISLAND. In no time, his stellar work found a literary agent and then a big publishing deal. Before the book was even released, Hollywood took notice. PHOENIX ISLAND became the basis of “Intelligence,” the new CBS show starring Josh Holloway.
Just a few weeks ago, PHOENIX ISLAND hit bookstore shelves to widespread anticipation and great acclaim—the very same week that “Intelligence” premiered as the #1 new show on television.
Trust me, the praise is well deserved. John’s writing is crisp and creative, action-packed, and 100% blistering fun. PHOENIX ISLAND, currently scorching the book charts, is a stunning debut that will have adults and young adults turning pages from the very first paragraph.
Best of all, John is an all-around good guy — creative, humble, friendly, and gifted. A gentle spirit, with a mean right cross.
You couldn’t make this up. You don’t have to. John Dixon has already arrived.
For me, it was more about writing than becoming a writer. I started writing stories in third grade and never stopped. Honestly, to this day, if someone asks me what I do for a living and I tell him or her that I’m a “writer,” I feel like a phony. I very much suffer from impostor syndrome, and even at this moment, I’m waiting for the book cops to kick in the doors and drag me off to a prison for literary posers.
Who or what inspired you as a kid or teenager?
I grew up in rural upstate Pennsylvania, and I was obsessed with three things: Dungeons & Dragons, the outdoors, and boxing. Especially boxing. I wanted to make a living fighting, not writing.
What creative work most recently inspired you?
I just finished re-re-re-re-re-re-reading THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which is one the finest, most impressive books I’ve ever read. I’m staggered by it, by Harris, every time.
The most underrated creative is …
Jack London. He’s been pigeon-holed as a nature writer. The guy wrote a wide variety of stuff and was an absolute genius. Don’t believe me? Go back and reread the opening page of WHITE FANG or the final two paragraphs of chapter two of THE CALL OF THE WILD.
In moments of self doubt, how do you push through?
Self-doubt plagues me. It’s horrible. Over the years, I’ve quit 75% of the things I’ve started, including at least a dozen would-be novels where I wrote a hundred pages or more. That is my great failing and my great struggle.
Have you ever abandoned a creative project?
Ha ha. *Twitches*
What was the best creative advice you ever received?
An editor – I think it was David L. Felts – once rejected one of my short stories with the advice to keep my main character in the driver’s seat. The protagonist’s actions should drive the plot, he explained, not the other way around. That piece of advice instantly changed the way I wrote, and I started selling more stories right away.
My favorite fictional character or hero is …
The next book on my reading pile is …
RED RISING by Pierce Brown. Can’t wait!
My favorite book to teach in English class was …
RUMBLE FISH by S.E. Hinton… an absolute masterpiece. I’ll never understand how she fit so much into so slim a volume… and so smoothly.
The book I really should have read by now is …
WAR AND PEACE
Does The Great American Novel exist (yet)? If so, what is it?
For me, it’s Stephen King’s THE STAND. It’s an epic story that reduces the American population to vulnerable few then reexamines our country, from its size to its conventions to the smallest bits of Americana, uncanny in this post-apocalyptic context, through a lens that invites nostalgia and fear, absurdity and tenderness. A terrific read.
What creative work might we be surprised to find on your shelf, iPod, or TiVo?
Given that my favorite band is Iron Maiden and my favorite song is “One” by Metallica, it might be surprising that I own “Edelweiss” from the soundtrack for THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
Facebook and Twitter: friend or foe to a creative?
Both, of course, but mostly foe. Anything that keeps me away from reading, writing, and real life is the enemy.
In addition to writing, how do you express your creativity?
When I was a teacher, I used to draw a lot. Not impressively. I had more enthusiasm than talent.
The most difficult thing about the life of a creative is …
The best boxing movie (or story) is …
ROCKY, of course. The first one, I mean. As far as books go, though, I’m a big fan of THE CONTENDER by Robert Lipsyte. A magnificent, soulful story.
I wish I could see a boxing match between …
Right now? I’d love to see a match between Gennady Golovkin, the world’s most exciting fighter, and Sergio Martinez, the long-reigning champ of the middleweight division. If they ever sign the deal – and I doubt they will – I think Golovkin will stop Martinez.