Interview with John DeHart

John DeHart Cover
Author Talk: Richard Lowe Interviews John DeHart

John E. DeHart, author of Post 60, All In All, Vayu Con Dios, Thin Air, and The Going, writes of the longings of the heart, the haunts of the past, and the ultimate price of one’s soul.

Within the walls of a boarded up roadside diner, a trapped man peels back the dark layers of his past to save his sanity and the souls of his murdered childhood friends.

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. DeHart spent his formative years in Pasco, Washington, downriver from the Hanford Nuclear site. He currently resides in Kennewick, Washington.

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Richard Lowe  00:00

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This is Richard Lowe with author talk. I’m with John DeHart who’s the author of post 60. All in all, they are condos, thin air and the going, rights of longing of the heart, the hearts of the past and the ultimate price of one’s soul. He’s born in Los Angeles to heart spends his formative years in Pasco Washington downriver from the Hanford Nuclear site. He currently resides in Kennewick Washington. So John, again, thank you for coming on the show. Thank you. So why don’t you give us a little bit of information about your past? And how’d you get how’d you get to becoming a writer what was behind that?

John DeHart  00:46

I was a working musician for 30 years. And that was enough. But after I quit playing, I quit due to another hand surgery and being a drummer, that’s kind of crucial. But after I quit, I was kind of beside myself as to what to do with my creativity. And I always wanted to write songs. But my good friend suggested that I write stories, I was always telling about anecdotal things, my childhood, funny things. And, and she suggested I’d go to this local writers group, hosted by a published author. And so I did. And I asked the criteria, and I started from there. And I was off to the races. And once a, once I started writing, it was it was a brand new world for me and everything I ever hoped for. And it was my hair was on fire. I was writing every day as much as I could go home and write all my notes down and started again the next day. And it was there was no stopping.

Richard Lowe  01:55

So you fell in love immediately?

John DeHart  01:58

Yeah, it was I was hooked. And there was just so much to say, and so and I had to write it. So I did.

Richard Lowe  02:08

Very interesting. So you, you mostly write for yourself? Do you do any kind of freelancing or anything?

John DeHart  02:14

Yeah, it was very cathartic. And it was a lot of tragedy and my family and our upbringing and unanswered questions. And I posed those to myself and incorporated them into this, this fiction that I wrote a lot of pain, a lot of sorrow, a lot of hope, a lot of some wins, some losses, a lot of faults.

Richard Lowe  02:42

So the fiction was a way to kind of get your inner pain out, like therapy therapeutic almost.

John DeHart  02:49

Yeah. And when I was I had a case of depression. So I went to see a therapist. And he suggested that, that you get this out of your desk. This is the purpose of this to get you out of you and put it on the shelf, like a book. And I sit down, How perfect is that? So I’m gonna write and get it out of me and put it on the shelf. And it works. Surprisingly well.

Richard Lowe  03:18

That’s very interesting. And you say you live downriver from the Hanford Nuclear site? That sounds like an interesting place to live.

John DeHart  03:27

It’s interesting as a good word, yeah. There’s a Columbia River right here in the Snake River and the Yakima River the confluence of all those there’s a confluence of a lot of things here. The radiation and all the things that happened back in the day and when the downwinders all that stuff, and that’s that’s part of the character of my story, too, is being that close and the effects not directly but how they affect our childhood. Such

Richard Lowe  04:00

I’m not that familiar with the Hanford Nuclear site was that related to Los Alamos

John DeHart  04:05

they that was where the plutonium for Nagasaki was. Huge hush hush first thing for bidding in northern we’re making till the bomb was dropped.

Richard Lowe  04:19

Yeah, that’s what I thought it was. Okay. All right. And Manish just tell. Talk a little bit about your books like what genre they are, what they’re about. Curious to see

John DeHart  04:30

in a particular book or post 60 In particular,

Richard Lowe  04:32

let’s start with post 60

John DeHart  04:34

All right, the genre i i would have to say it’s psychological suspense. It’s it’s about my, my protagonist is trying to find himself and he has to go back into his childhood was passed on On top of the real reason for the way he’s been on his life, and consequently is his brother, his mentor, his real father figure who had died from terrible cancer, and but the road leading up to all this, everything starts at home. And he, at this post 60 diner and abandoned, long abandoned diner on the side of the freeway. At the county line, he actually comes to his crossroads, physical and literal Crossroads key. He finds the past and then finds the real reason for the horrors in his life. And old neighbors, that didn’t turn out to be what he thought I got it was a childhood. Come back to haunt test.

Richard Lowe  05:57

Okay, and you’ve got some other novels listed here. All in all, what’s that one about?

John DeHart  06:01

All in all, this is actually the first story I wrote for the writers group. And they said, criteria bring at least one page in next week, and you know, double, double state or double spaced enough inch margin all this stuff, right, brought in a four page short story about my dog being neutered. But it was one of the dogs point of view. And the whole lesson in that is how dogs are so forgiving. We kind of reset to zero when you bring food into the mix. And it was a short little funny story. And it was I wrote it pretty well. I was surprised and the guy reading it blew a nose mobile and almost fell out of his chair. And he said, Okay, you’re in. So you need to submit that and not to Reader’s Digest, maybe but so I just went onto there and started writing that post 60 novel.

Richard Lowe  06:57

And briefly, what were the you’ve got some other works listed here. What are they? What are they about?

John DeHart  07:02

The going that was a book. That was a nightmare that I had, my father was dying from mesothelioma. It just fabricated catered in my dream. And I woke up on the side of the bed shaking and sweating. And then I had this whole, this whole first half of the book. And I just wrote went out there to the computer. I mean, I couldn’t sleep, so I had to get it out again. So I just wrote it. And that first half, it was exactly like the dream was and it was it was a horrible. It’s a it’s a serial murder story to Courtney. And it just took off from there. And I just imagined the rest of it. And so it’s about a carny who was a serial killer but but not the typical, just go out and kill people. He just he’s been conditioned since he was a child. And he killed his first victim on when he was a kid and somebody he really loved. So from that on anybody that got it is way too much. He was easy to kill him easier than dealing with him. And, and the consequences of that life and the carnival world and and I went and interviewed Karna here in town. And he was I use him for one of my characters and he’s a big huge guy and a couple of teeth. And and he said yeah, you can tell how long people been in the carnival working here are hopping depending on how many teeth they steal. I simply got to use that. So I used him was one of my characters and it’s a fun story. But it’s it’s very dark. And that just goes to show. Like my time Tony, my therapist, he’s he was talking to me and he said you have nightmares. I said I’ve had nightmares since I was child. You said do what you don’t have to have chosen as it will. What would I write about? This is too much fun. I’ll suffer it’s my material. Yeah. Via can do so is actually a prequel to post 16. It starts in Honduras and comes all the way up to Pasco the journey of that the grandfather of the of the two antagonists and in both 60 and a half brothers murdering after others. And what was the other story? A couple of other ones thin air. Thin Air is another dream I had and that came out of the brain and it’s about the consequences of a man who took shortcuts and building a dam that the end and everything collapsed on him in the end and it’s it’s a story of Come up and in the worst way. And your hell in the end. You destroy things you destroy people, you get what’s common to their multi, many times over. Yeah, that’s, that’s a rough one. But I Ross also wrote a short children’s story for my grandchildren called the beatbox. And it’s based on my experiences with skinning a big refrigerator box ahead on a kid when I was a kid. And now we threw rocks into a beehive and they attack just Boy, I’ll tell you what. So I made a kind of overview box for my grandkids and, and I went in and tried to demonstrate it, and they just beat the living crap out of me with hockey sticks. So I just couldn’t win there. And that was the whole thing. But the grandkids love the story, and they want me to tell it to him. Tell us about Meebox Papa, no. Yeah.

Richard Lowe  10:57

And hopefully, that wasn’t near as dark as the other novels.

John DeHart  11:01

This is actually a children’s story.

Richard Lowe  11:04

Yes. And I’m sure you’ve got additional novels in your head that just are waiting to be laid out on paper.

John DeHart  11:11

There’s, there’s no end to it. And that’s the thing, the more you write, the more they come, the floodgates are open. And what they when I stopped writing for any amount of time, they, it’s like somebody turned the faucet down to drip. And it’s just like jogging or anything else, you got to get warmed up, and all of a sudden, boom, you’re back on the trail again. It’s great. It never ends. And I don’t have to go out and slamming the drums and one of the bars and all that stuff. I can sit right here and be my introvert itself. And explore my worlds. It’s, it’s a lifesaver.

Richard Lowe  11:49

So you are living the writing life as I like to call it.

John DeHart  11:52

Yeah, this is a struggle, that’s for sure. It’s a lot more difficult than I ever imagined. But what what labor of love isn’t?

Richard Lowe  12:02

Yeah, I always look at it like you can always work for the man so to speak, you know, the corporate America or you can go off and be creative and do what you need to do.

John DeHart  12:12

Sure. And my father was always a stickler for you know, wanting to get a real day job and all that stuff. I played music girl those years. You know, someone knows him and stuff. But then I got her got tired of that and got a real day job. And I worked out all the time and and write as much as I possibly can. It just sit in the seat. My dad called it but blue. Don’t get up and until you’ve got something worth with reading. Yeah, I

Richard Lowe  12:42

used to. I used to produce some dance shows. And we used to call it butts and seats.

John DeHart  12:47

Yeah. Good one. Yeah.

Richard Lowe  12:52

All right. So you you wrote the books primarily as the therapy and something you wanted to do, rather than anything else.

John DeHart  13:01

Yeah. When I was I remember being on the road and writing the letters to my parents and agonizing them and taking hours to write a three page letter. Because I was trying to get them to see exactly what I was doing where I was Colorado or New Mexico or whatever. I wanted them to see my life. And and I should have known that I should have been riding back then I fault myself for not getting an earlier start. But I can’t go back. So I just go forward.

Richard Lowe  13:35

And that’s the best you can do is move forward rather than looking back and seeing what you did wrong.

John DeHart  13:39

And that’s also the lesson post 60s To finally quit looking back. Even if you only get it to the last moments in your life, you still get it. And it’s a win either way. So

Richard Lowe  13:54

sounds like fascinating novels. I think I’m gonna have to read them.

John DeHart  13:59

Love for you to have.

Richard Lowe  14:01

Okay, so we know why you became a writer. How did you make the jump from music to writing? How was that? How did that go?

John DeHart  14:09

Well, I said earlier that after I got I had enough of the the club life and all that darkness and debauchery and stuff. And I just had another surgery on my hand and yet another surgery so I figured you know, I’m not getting any younger, this is just get worse. So I stopped playing music and I needed to be creative. And instead of writing songs, which I always thought I wanted to do, because being a mechanic back there, you don’t really get to have the the joy of writing and singing and all that stuff. So I wanted to do that I wanted to say something and but it’s just it just didn’t turn out to be in song it turned out to be in in writing. And that’s my real real story is nothing songs in writing prose and telling a story. I’ve always been a storyteller. But that’s a heart. A completely different animal from learning craft of writing, as I’m sure you will know, oh, I know. Yeah. But I have to be creative. I have to make something. I’ve always had to do something like that. I just had to face it. I’ve got it right.

Richard Lowe  15:23

Well, I understand that bug I wrote, we probably read my bio, I wrote 60 books, plus 20 ghostwritten books in the last five years. It just got to Scott to come out.

John DeHart  15:32

Yeah, yeah. And whether it’s slow or fast, it’s it’s, it’s up to, you know, to your personality, your way of doing it.

Richard Lowe  15:39

Speaking of slower fast, how long does it take you to write a book?

John DeHart  15:43

Well, this first book, it took years, because I didn’t know what I was doing and mistakes and ruin chapters, I took a picture of all the chapters, I had stacks of chapters all across my living room floor and 10s of 1000s of pages, and all of them were blue ink to reading and writing group. And, but I for the first year and a half, I get old notes and descriptives because I drove 450 Miles tonight. And so I have my little recorder with me to take notes on what the landscape looked like because the area is a character. And rattlesnake mountain Hanford, Columbia River and the desert here, this disrupts that desert. It’s not like Seattle, rainy forest and all that stuff. So yeah, I wanted to make my hometown a character and all its darkness and, and the good parts to a nice mix a little darker than didn’t light but still, there it is.

Richard Lowe  16:50

Yeah. Well, you got to write your passion, whatever that is.

John DeHart  16:53

Yeah, that’s true. I read and that’s, that’s another thing. I mean, I’ve never read so much. I was always a real study reader. My father was a voracious reader, and you can read fast and remember everything. And I was just so jealous of him for that. But I am what I am. So I just read constantly. And, of course, every book on writing there that I could find in the library. I’ve lived at the library for years. And yeah, I took all those notes on the book coming for the book and wrote it from my recorder and transpose it to the end, just the writing from the transposition was exercise. And it was all good. And so yeah, about a year and a half of getting my notes together, and then I started applying them all, I already have the plot. That was easy.

Richard Lowe  17:53

So do you do you edit While You Write? Or do you just like, dump it all out on the page and then go back and edit it?

John DeHart  17:58

Both? Depends on the day. And sometimes I kick myself for doing one or the other. Because I’m my own worst critic. And I’ll take I’ll print it out and and go read it down in the living room or read it into recorder and go. I just screwed the whole thing up. I should have left it alone in the first place. You know, man, my girlfriend to say yep, yes, you did get your butt back in there and get to work. Yep. That’s, that’s the only way to do it.

Richard Lowe  18:28

Yeah, been there done that.

John DeHart  18:32

Who hasn’t? You know, if you haven’t you, you’re doing something wrong. Because writing is rewriting I guess.

Richard Lowe  18:40

There have been many times that I’ve written a chapter or two and then gone back and go, Oh, God, what was I thinking?

John DeHart  18:47

And, and, you know, God forbid, that computer should crap out and the chapters gone. That’s happened a few times do I got backup backup?

Richard Lowe  18:58

Yeah, that’s, that’s one of my chance. And I teach that and whenever I’m doing training is back things up. Always.

John DeHart  19:05

Yeah, it was that was a hard learned lesson.

Richard Lowe  19:10

So what would you tell other writers to help them succeed to become writers?

John DeHart  19:17

To succeed to become writers?

Richard Lowe  19:18

Well, people who are like on their first novel or are working on becoming writers.

John DeHart  19:25

Well, first off, you have to write your passion. Even if it’s bad, because it’s gonna be bad for quite a while and it’s just like playing music. You don’t pick up the guitar and start gigging. You don’t pick up drumset and just walk into a club and start banging around like, like, animal. You have to learn at least your basic craft, before you can really even take off but you know, whatever. Just write, just sit your button down and come up with an idea. Even if it’s a bad one. It’s all writing It’s alright to write naturally. And give yourself that, that allowance, allow yourself to write very badly. Because you’ll start writing goodly pretty soon. Especially if you pay attention to craft and read a lot and listen to audiobooks, listen to people, all that media, all the ways, different ways to listen to books and read books, I mean, it’s all great stuff. And, and just relax. And when you when you have a block, write something, exercise, just writing, get the dictionary out, start typing, something will come to you. It’s inevitable. It’s human nature, you can’t stop that. You can, if you sit there and focus too hard on this thing you’ll you’ll choke. And that’s, that’s, in my experience. That’s what writer’s block is. It’s like getting on stage and getting paranoid and choking. And you don’t have the flow anymore. You’re just going through a minute minute mechanics. And it’ll read that way. If you do that. So lighten up get a cup of coffee, or soda or whatever you need. And relaxed.

Richard Lowe  21:19

Interesting. Interesting. Are you self published? Or did you go traditional,

John DeHart  21:24

I’m trying traditional, I’m, I’m determined to at least, given my best shot. I’ve been to the NWA Writers Conference up there and, and there was 30 agents and television and all that stuff. And, and they said, Look, you please eat, publish, publish all you want. We’re looking, we’re out there, and we’re looking at you guys writing. But here’s the thing. If you eat, publish, and it’s not good, we’re definitely not going to publish it traditionally. So make sure you’ve got your best, best stuff out there before you don’t just put half assed out there, it’ll fall flat. So determined to make everything as productive as I can. I’ve hired freelance editors, and analysts now, all this stuff, and it’s not cheap. But it’s worth it. Because these guys are pros. And they can tell you where your pacing falls short, or you know, which scene development of scenes which put in the past, and you know how to how to edit it like for, like a television show, basically, that’s how they keep your attention. That’s how they keep you home. This is a craft. It’s not just telling your grandkids a story about something. It’s supposed to be professionally done. And you have to learn how to be a professional. That’s it.

Richard Lowe  22:54

Your advices to beginning authors is to be professional,

John DeHart  22:59

be professional and follow your passion. And give it your all, don’t stop. Because if it’s in you, it has to come out. If you want it to be marketable, you got to make it so nobody can do it for you. Is, is this what you want to do ask yourself, you just want to write for yourself, you want to write for marketing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, you should just follow the template of other books out there and stuff, write your own story. But you have to write it well enough. Craft it well enough to be marketable. To even get a start, nobody’s gonna look at you. And once you do get some kind of notoriety or something, get in the door, then you can be more of yourself. But first off, you have to find a way in. At least that’s my take on it. If I write a crappy story, and the craft is all off, and nobody wants to read that, I don’t even want to read it. So I wouldn’t let that go in the first place. So you know, beta readers and friends and some of its really bad, the people that read your stuff, because they have no clue what to you know what to tell you. They liked her too much cousin, or you know, this stuff or it’s too blue or whatever, that’s their particular taste, but they can’t answer the questions that I need to answer. So that’s why I have professionals on top of it. costs money, but I have good credit. Great credit.

Richard Lowe  24:37

Let’s get and how do you promote your books once you’ve self published them?

John DeHart  24:42

Well, that’s when I’m struggling with that. I’ve been so busy writing and editing and that’s something I have to tackle yet. I’m just now reaching out to do that. To get it off the ground. I have a few books to my name and I want to get this going to undersea butterfly.

Richard Lowe  25:05

Do you have a website? Not yet. Using social media at all,

John DeHart  25:11

Facebook, Facebook’s kind of Technic technologically challenged. I mean, I had a flip phone until three months ago. I understand. I wasn’t very good at with with that.

Richard Lowe  25:28

Yeah, sometimes it’s technical stuff seems to come pretty quick.

John DeHart  25:33

Yeah, my grandson took my flip phone and asked me if that was an antique. Yeah, I didn’t know how to answer. Because I still have a rotary rotary phone box downstairs somewhere. That’s an antique, also used to be a tool of discipline. In my in my house, where I grew up,

Richard Lowe  25:56

that’s funny. So how do you remain productive? I’m sure there’s days when you when you want to do something else you don’t feel like writing or the story is not coming to you? How do you get over get over that?

John DeHart  26:07

That’s part of the struggle to me for the first seven years. For more of my writing, I missed all kinds of family events, I would just close the blinds, shut off the TV, get a sandwich and eat, I wouldn’t even know I was eating because I just be writing I was just focused on if the TV was on and I figured out somebody else’s story. I’m not going to sit here and compromise my story for somebody else’s stuff. They already got it going. So I need to get my button here. I’m not getting any younger, and I need to catch up. So I missed all kinds of my life. And my friends and all this stuff. This has to be done. And that’s again blue a discipline. You know, I’ve always been pretty strict disciplinarian with myself and my, my music and everything. So I have that going for me already. Just woodshed you know, we got when I was a kid, I used to lock myself into my room and put on records and play them over and over and over and start them over. Until I had that part, right. Go one step at a time. So that’s kind of ingrained in me. So I don’t have any trouble disciplining myself sitting down and writing. It’s just what I have to do.

Richard Lowe  27:28

Okay, and what is your favorite thing about being an author?

John DeHart  27:35

I mean, where do I start? It’s it’s a it’s a, it’s, it brings me alive. It’s it’s everything that all the technical are in my head. It’s saying things that I could never say. Living a life I could never live and, and righting the wrongs that are unraidable you know, the things that have happened. I wish I could go back and change, things like that, that things I wish it could happen. I can make them happen. And I feel them fully. And if I can, if I can get the reader to feel a fraction of that. That’s, that’s my goal. If I can make them feel everything I feel with my book. Wow. I mean, I don’t expect that. But I do expect to come across and communicate and make them know what I feel. sharing, sharing, making, letting people in. Because I’ve always been such an introvert. And even on stage, I always ask them if they had a black spotlight, so I could play in the dark. I like to be a studio musician I let that’s my my comfort zone, making music not being on the spot. And that’s the same thing with writing. I can make I can go back and correct my mistakes. When you’re playing live on stage you can go back and you can stop the song let’s start over so so I can do that here. And I can make it perfect just like in a studio. And and there’s nothing like I can create a life outside of my own life and that I can gloss I live my life and have fun but in my stories, I can have heroes I can have adventures. I can go into the past and relive my adventures and make some of them better than they originally were. That’s good stuff. and

Richard Lowe  30:02

I know exactly what you mean.

John DeHart  30:04

Other than love, there’s no drug like writing. And that’s love to art of who you are. I mean, who else? Anybody that’s not compelled to do this? Why would they do it? It’s so hard. You gotta love it. And that’s why you follow it. That’s why they call it following your passion. I mean, this is your bliss. This is where this is where you’re going to prove yourself to yourself.

Richard Lowe  30:33

It’s where the pedal hits the metal.

John DeHart  30:35

Absolutely. No doubt about it. It’s, it’s a wonderful thing. I just wish I would have discovered it. A long, long time ago, it would have changed my life. And it has changed my life, because it has changed my life. So much for the better. wonderful, just wonderful.

Richard Lowe  30:59

Well, thank you. This has been very inspirational. I’m enjoyed our conversation. Do you have any closing remarks that you’d like to say before we’re done

John DeHart  31:09

in regards to writing or in regards to

Richard Lowe  31:11

anything on your mind writing, you know, the writing life, what you write what kind of books you’ve written to your fans, whatever?

John DeHart  31:18

Well, the books I’ve written are all cathartic, and all from the deepest part of my heart. And that’s scary. To open yourself up and let everybody see. Because they everybody criticizes and, and that’s fine. I’m taking that chance. And all writers do when they open themselves up. And it’s, it’s my grandson, when asked, I want to ask me, Why do you write or why do you read books? And I said it. It’s another world. Every book is its own world. You want to go to different dimensions. You want to go to different galaxies, pick up a book, put your phone down, pick up a book, and start reading. And you’ll know don’t ask me find out for yourself. It’s a world of worlds. You know. I think the first thing I read that I can’t read, remember, is was a short story by Theodore Sturgeon. I think it was called Prozis pot. And it was hilariously dark. But definitely not a children’s book. I couldn’t get it. I never forgot it. And I thought that’s wow, I can see everything he was saying. It was kind of risky. And I was really young. So I was really intrigued by that, because he can write pretty heavy sexual content. And, you know, wow, that’s, that’s interesting. Dad never told me about that. So. So yeah, I think I was hooked on reading from from, from third grade, or whatever that was. And I’ve always read since then, but I didn’t have a clue that I could write. Or that I should be writing, but I should have known. It’s like, grief. What was I thinking? But I was so involved in music and my brothers and they’re both they’re all older. My sister’s a drummer, my, my uncle’s drummer Mike Matthews, new drummer. And so it’s just inundated with with music all of our lives. So maybe I was just too distracted. To find my true calling. I’d still love to play music, but I can too old to be competing with the young bucks out there. And it’s time to turn the reins over to the guy, the other guys. Let them have the spotlight in the gig. So here I am. And I’m glad to be here.

Richard Lowe  34:05

I’m glad you came on the show. Thank you very much for coming. Thank you enjoyed our conversation a lot. So to all out there, this has been Richard Lowe’s author talk, you can subscribe by clicking the button below and you’ll get a notification every time a new video comes out. Thank you for listening. And until next time, thank you for coming, John.

John DeHart  34:28

Thank you, sir. Take care.

Richard Lowe  34:30

Okay, you too.

Richard Lowe
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