Pageonelit.com: Where did you grow
up and was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were
your earliest influences and why?"
John Schepman: I grew up in a small
rural town in Southeastern Nebraska. Falls City. My father and
my mother and my maternal grandparents were the strongest influences.
My father and my grandfather both told me true
stories about earlier times in their lives. My dad told me about
working his way through college and law school selling books.
He told me some interesting and amusing stories about his adventures.
My Grandfather Whitaker told me about growing up
in Tennessee and having two coon dogs, Sharp, a very eager, enthusiastic
hunter, and, Sooner, the other dog who "would sooner
stay home and sleep." I never tired of those stories
when I was young. I liked to hear the same stories again and
My mother read to me from children's books. Here
is the basic plot of one of those stories: A dog who had been
abused by his owner rang the bell of the church by pulling
on a rope. The people of the town rescued him after he accidentally
made them aware of his plight.
Mom belonged to a book review club, and she had
many novels and a few books of poetry parked in different places
around our home.
When I was in high school, the teacher who influenced
me the most was my speech and dramatics teacher, Josephine Gatz.
She gave me much encouragement, and she also gave me the lead
in the senior play.
I liked to read, and I was a good reader as early
as first grade. I started writing short stories and jokes when
I was about twelve years old. When I was about fourteen I was
a member of the National Writer's Club, and I wrote free critiques
of other members short stories and poems. (Did they know how
young I was? No).
Pageonelit.com: Why did you write
TEARDROPS ARE RED. Tell us about this book.
John Schepman: True stories and fiction
about brutal people being subdued always caught my attention
and stimulated my imagination. Here is one true story (from a
newpaper): An escaped convict captured two hostages: a teenage
girl and her boyfriend. The criminal was beating the girl and
attempting to rape her. The teenage boy managed to escape his
ropes, grabbed the convict's own knife, struggled with him, stabbed
him in the throat.
I seldom read westerns, but I did read and enjoy
one: Shane. I liked this story
about a gunfighter who didn't want to fight anymore. He chose
to have one last gunfight to save a friend. (I still like that
My favorite murder mystery novel was: The First Deadly Sin. The protagonist of
that story was obsessed with capturing a sociopathic serial killer.
Some other reflections about crime and punishment: I have also
given much thought to the fact that some rather minor lawbreakers
are treated too harshly, and some brutal people--mostly men--are
given a slap on the wrist or put into a prison system where they
can prey on weaker prisoners. (In real life, I once met an ex-prison
warden who told me. "I only controlled the walls. The prisoners
controlled the inside."
My novel deals with all of those issues and explores
(in the subplot) a possible, but illegal
and undemocratic way of dealing with brutal sociopaths.
The main plot deals with a PI, Zed Taggert tracking
down and confronting a serial killer.
Pageonelit.com: Where did the title
TEARDROPS ARE RED come from?
John Schepman: When I first started
writing this murder mystery, I gave it the title: Twisted
Hearts. By the time I completed writing the book,
I decided that the title was only so-so. I wanted a better title.
I then wrote down dozens of titles, all of which
related to some happening in the book, and one of the new titles
was: Teardrops Are Red.
When I thought of this title, I immediately liked
it. I did a limited survey among my friends. I wrote down: Teardrops Are Red and several other titles.
The majority of my friends preferred the one I liked best...even
though I did not tell them it was my favorite.
I am very pleased with the cover art which shows
the title in symbolic form. The artist, Ellen Kell, from Huntington,
WV, is a friend, a teacher, and a part time commercial artist.
The printer, Pine Hills Press, improved things even more with
their graphics for the front and back covers.
Pageonelit.com: Tell us a little
about working as a psychiatrist and how your profession aids/hinders
your writing. A character in TEARDROPS ARE RED -- Al Voldecker
-- is a doctor. Any correlation??
John Schepman: I have many times heard other writers
say, "Write about what you are familiar with." This
made sense, so I created Al Voldecker, a psychiatrist who was
willing to step outside of the law to protect society from vicious
sociopaths...and also to protect these men from each other.
Is Al Voldecker like me in most respects? No. Are
his parolees like my patients? No.
I purposely chose to write about a psychiatrist
dealing with violent ex-cons who are very unlike my own patients.
I think that my own work as a psychiatrist has
helped in my writing of this novel. However, I needed to step
outside myself when I created Al Voldecker. He is not me.
Have I ever dealt with any violent people in my
practice of psychiatry? Yes. One patient...years ago...pulled
a switchblade to threaten me and a female social worker.
What did I do? I said (as calmly as I could): "I
think you'd better give me that." My thought at the time
was, 'This may be the wrong thing to say. He may give it to me
in my gut or my neck.' Fortunately, I was lucky, he closed it
and handed it to me.
Was I anxious at the time? No. "Almost frozen"
would be more accurate. I only felt real
fear after it was all over.
I have also done consults on a few men in jails,
but no long term psychotherapy with any of them. Had some of
these men been aggresive? Yes. Extremely.
Pageonelit.com: What has been your
feedback from readers and book reviewers? What do they say to
you about their interpretations of these books? What do they
like about the book?
John Schepman: My novel is self published,
and since I continue my work as a psychiatrist, I have not had
time to market it widely throughout the USA. But, my novel has
had very strong sales in certain towns where I have done the
most advertising. Examples: Louisa, Kentucky (a very small town)-over
sixty books sold in less than a year. This novel is also starting
to do very well in Fremont, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha.
Why did I chose these towns as the top two "targets"
of my advertising? Answer: 1) I live in Louisa. 2). The fictitious
setting of the novel involves two small rural towns near Omaha.
These two towns, Green City and Lastville do not exist in real
life, but if they did exist one of them would be near Omaha and
near Fremont. (I have just started my Omaha advertising). Soon,
I plan to promote my novel in other cities. In the meantime,
the novel is available worldwide at www.amazon.com
The Fremont Tribune printed an almost full page
article about Teardrops Are Red
in the life style section. It was well written; an excellent
article by a free lance newspaper writer. I later asked, "Did
you like my novel?" Her response was a flat, "No."
I asked her what she didn't like about it. Her reply was essentially
that she didn't care much for the main character, and she thought
it seemed far-fetched to have a sixty story skyscraper in a small
Many other readers have contacted me and told me
how much they liked the novel and the main character.
The skyscraper only makes sense when you consider
the eccentric billionaire who built it.
Many readers praised the book; a few gave the opposite
viewpoint. (I respect all of the opinions).
In regard to reviews, I have not sent the novel
to any reviewers. Am I afraid of criticism? No. Not at all. I
have been too busy with my private practice of psychiatry to
do an adequate job of marketing. (I hope to improve this. And,
if anyone reading this is a reviewer, please send me an E mail
at: firstname.lastname@example.org I will be happy to send a complimentary
copy of my novel to any reviewer who contacts me in the near
I would also appreciate reviews on www.amazon.com
by any reader who has read my novel.
Pageonelit.com: Tell me about your
publishing experience -- The good, the bad and the ugly ...
John Schepman: First the good. Completing
this novel, and going ahead with my own plan to self-publish.
I decided to bypass agents and publishers, and just go for it
on my own. I wanted to maintain all control over the book...at
least for now. I am happy that I chose this route. And, I was
very pleased with the book printer: Pine Hill Press of Sioux
Falls South Dakota. They were very professional, easy to talk
to, and they turn out quality books with excellent bindings and
excellent graphics. They do not give out any BS about promoting
the novel. Pine Hill always made it clear that I was the publisher
and the promoting and advertising was strictly up to me. (I enjoy
the advertising and promoting, but I need to work harder).
I appreciate the opportunity to do this interview
on www.Pageonelit.com. I consider this a major step in the right
If you don't know the novel exists, you won't buy
it. (Where can you buy it? World wide at www.amazon
I am in the process of making the book available
in other book stores. It's also available in the main library
in Omaha, Nebraska.
Now on to the other questions: What about the bad
and the ugly?
The bad: I wrote a previous novel many years ago,
and although I was able to find a good agent who was enthusiastic
about that novel's potential, the publishers he sent it to, turned
it down without comment. For many, many months I got no word
at all from the agent. Finally, I was able to contact him, and
got the bad news.
The ugly? There was no ugly.
Pageonelit.com: Are you working on
a follow up? Or something totally different?
John Schepman: Yes. I am fantasizing
a follow up. (I enjoy playing with ideas in my head for months
before I write. I also did that with Teardrops Are Red.)
Pageonelit.com: What was the last
book you read?
John Schepman: The Green Mile. I would give that
novel an A . (There is another novel that I have read and reread
many times that I would give an A + ( The Burden of Proof). Of
course, I have read many other novels. I especially enjoy and
admire some of the books of Stephen King and Scott Turow.
Other favorite novels include: The Accidental Tourist,
Dr. Zhivago, and The Gold Coast.
I keep busy with my private practice of psychiatry;
so, I only read about five or six novels yearly.
Pageonelit.com: Do you have any hobbies?
What are they? How do they enhance your writing?
John Schepman: The passtime that
enchances my writing the most is walking. I enjoy walking and
fantasizing about some potential stories as I walk.
I love practicing golf shots, and playing golf.
(Golf plays a part in Teardrops Are Red).
Other hobbies include tennis, chess, and yoga.
I used to have pets...dogs, cats and other animals, but I have
no pets now. Two dogs are featured in the novel, and one of them,
a basset hound, Sniffer, plays an important role.
I also like swimming or wading...especially when
I visit my significant other, Carme. We enjoy playing with the
waves of the Mediterranean...the smaller ones near the shore.
She goes a little further out than I do. She is familiar with
the currents. She is a native of Spain.
One of my current hobbies is learning Spanish.
My progress with that? Slow. Carme also speaks Catalan which
is her first spoken language of childhood. So, after Spanish,
there may be other language challanges ahead.
My novel is dedicated to Carme. We met on the Internet
through www.FriendFinders about two and one half years ago. We
have many interests in common including discussing the movies
we have seen together. We both love to
She still lives is Barcelona, Spain, and I live
in Louisa, Kentucky. We spend vacations together, and we keep
in close touch with E mails and phone calls.
She has encouraged me to do more writing, and I
plan to write a followup to Teardrops Are Red...when the time