In the tradition of
fiction writers, my life has been a rich drama, always
interesting and often rewarding, but sometimes balanced on
the edge of tragedy. I graduated with honors from Georgia
Tech and was awarded a full Fellowship to get my PhD in
Electronic Engineering, well on my way to a career in
research until life got in the way.
Getting a doctorate
is all consuming, so one day I came home from class to find
that my neglected wife had taken our son and left. Divorce,
bleakness, and an unfinished dissertation followed. I needed
a change and, as fate had it, the Vietnam War was raging and
good technologists were in high demand. Not for research:
I soon found myself
riding in the back of military aircraft, trying to make
prototype electronic intelligence (ELINT) and weapons
systems work. I was also the kid in the back of the room
at classified briefings attended by high officers, and,
sometimes, the SECDEF himself.
They called it
“Special Ops.” That's what my friends did, and some were
true heroes. But Vietnam convinced me I needed a career
called it “The Snooper,” and it made Playboy and the
legendary Cannonball Baker Race that has been the subject of
several movies. You can see one in the old movie, Gumball
Clients have included Intel, Hewlett Packard, the Naval
Postgraduate School, and others, including some in the
soon found myself part of a band of inventors, including a
quorum of Nobel Laureates and Inventor’s Hall of Fame
members, petitioning Congress to preserve our Patent System.
I spent five years on that, pro bono, and then gave my files
to Professor Larry Lessig of Stanford who has access to more
resources and legal expertise.
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 Trudel: The old East Coast, NJ, and with roots on both sides of my family that go
all the way back to Valley Forge and the Battle of Trenton.
Reading, yes. Old magazines from WW II first, and, later, YA novels about
airplanes and dogs.
Writing, not so much. Not until later when I had to write professionally.
My formative years were spent hanging out at a small airport, washing
airplanes, doing odd jobs, learning to fly, and listening to the tales of an
eclectic group of pilots and adventurers.
"Ike" Schlossbach, who owned the airport, had one eye, had been at both
Poles, commanded a submarine in World War I, and commanded the first aero
squadron to serve on the first Aircraft Carrier. Ike was the first Jewish
midshipman at Annapolis, and graduated from my High School.
Mr. Davidson, my HS history teacher, roamed the world and personally
experienced the horrific history of the early 20thcentury.
His stories were more interesting than textbooks. My 8thgrade
teacher, Mr. Ward, had served in the 82nd Airborne from Normandy on into
Germany. He and his dad gave me my first airplane ride.
Pageonelit.com: Discuss your new book God’s House.
John Trudel: My first novel is doing well. It’s available everywhere, and in all eBook
formats. I especially appreciate the kind comments from well-published
authors in other genres.
Pageonelit.com: One reviewer has said, "― John Trudel has captured
the language, procedures, and frustrations of people working in the
Intelligence Community perfectly." What research went into writing God's
House? Explain the title as it relates to the plot.
John Trudel: That was Robb Kresge, retired CIA. Robb was a cofounder of the
counterterrorism division. He was on the duty desk when 9-11 went down.
In a way, you could say that my whole life was research for my novels. As a
young engineer, I worked all over the world. I was exposed to interesting
people and exciting technology at the peak of “the American Century.” I’ve
been fortunate, and this helps my novels.
Robert Heinlein said his characters wrote the book, he didn't. That’s how I
write my novels too. I take edgy technologies, odd situations, and
exceptional people, sit in a room, and talk with my imaginary friends. I
also do a lot of research and read widely, especially in my genre.
Writing high concept Thrillers is hard work, but a lot of fun. I do
extensive research to get the details right. I have clusters of critical
reviewers, personal friends who help me. Some of lists are content experts,
like “gun geeks,” MDs, former SPEC OPS, “agency” people, etc.
God’s House is depicted on the cover. It’s a Megachurch that is not as it
seems. Evil is so often cloaked as doing good. Even ministers and altruistic
organizations can give in to the dark side.
Pageonelit.com: Who is Jack Donner?
John Trudel:Jack’s a good man, with honor and integrity. He’s a talented technical
professional. He serves his country as a civilian troubleshooter, but makes
the mistake of caring too much.
Jack’s alter ego is John Black. That’s his cover name, his dark side. John
Black leaves no footprints in the sand. He lives in the deep black of
Pageonelit.com: God's House is described as"A
New Type of Thriller," Explain.
John Trudel:This is a better question for my readers and reviewers to answer. I’ve been
published for years, so I didn’t need the prestige and money that – in
legend – surrounds successful novelists. I seek something new that my
readers enjoy. I want to give them surprises, make them think, and get them
to read my books twice and recommend them to friends.
Perhaps the best answer to your question is in the “blurbs” from successful
novelists found in the front of God’s House and on the cover. I’m
particularly gratified that each found something compelling about my book,
and, for the most part, each found something different.
Don Bendell compared it favorably to several best sellers. Margaret Coel
liked my "tough, big-hearted" hero, Jack Donner. Conversely, Roger Croft,
who writes dark spy novels, keyed on Jack's "cynicism and hardened
experience." Chuck Moody, who taught the classics for 30 years, liked my
symbolism and mythology of good versus evil. Chuck liked the fact that my
character Jack fought evil without becoming evil himself. He's right: Hard
to do, and hard to write.
These days, evil and corruption seems to be winning. We're at a time when
many in the West seem to have forgotten evil exists, along with the values
that helped us to prevail against the odds in the past.
I was energized by Chuck's viewpoint. He readGod's
Houseand not just
understood, but resonated with my hero, Jack Donner. This is what we
novelists dream about. It doesn't get any better than that.
Pageonelit.com: If Hollywood called and asked you to cast God’s
House, Who would you cast and why?
John Trudel:I don’t think that’s my call, though I plan to ask my readers for opinions
when we get a contract.
I’d ask Hollywood to send me travel money to come and meet with the
Director. I’d want to know if he/she had a vision of what they wanted to do,
and then we’d discuss it. All the movie stories I’ve heard personally from
successful authors, were, ah, unique….
Tony Hillerman said his contribution to the movies was to take the check,
remove it from the envelope, and deposit it in the bank. Jean Auel’s
Hollywood experience was so bad that she won’t license her books. David
Morrell had one of the most successful franchises in history for his Rambo
character, but the movies were nothing like his novel,First
Then there’s Craig Johnson, who got productively involved in every detail of
the screenplays, casting, and production for the movies based on his novels.
I guess you never know.
Pageonelit.com: What should readers learn from reading God’s House?
John Trudel:There’s a lot of edgy science and real history in my novels. My settings
feature real locations, and exceptional people trying to survive long enough
to solve big problems and save the world.
The reality is that we are becoming a dumbed-down society. Many voice
concerns about how poorly students do in the STEM subjects: the Science,
Technology, English, and Math that drives prosperity. We test even worse in
history, geography, and our own Constitution.
If my novels help any of these areas, even in small ways – and some say they
do -- I’d like that.
James Patterson once said, “At their best, Thrillers use scrupulous research
and accurate details in which meaningful characters teach us about our
world. When readers finish a Thriller, they should feel not just emotionally
satisfied, but also better informed – and hungry for the next riveting
tale.” This is what I strive for.
Pageonelit.com: What are readers saying about God’s House?
John Trudel:They say it’s realistic, an enjoyable read, and it makes them think. I love
the comments, mostly from women, who say they don’t normally read Thrillers,
but liked mine and told their friends about it.
Pageonelit.com: What do you hope to achieve with God’s House?
John Trudel: I now have five (5) Thrillers written and agented. I hope this is the start
of something big.
Pageonelit.com: What was the last book you read?
John Trudel:Senator’s Inhofe’s epic work,The
Greatest Hoax, a story of how politics (massive amounts of public money,
propaganda, and media control) have corrupted Climate Science to allow
totalitarian control of energy and our lives.
The use of politicized science to advance radical political agendas has
happened before, and with horrific results. In the 1930s, Hitler used
eugenics and Stalin used false agriculture.
Interestingly, Dr. Michael Crichton raised these very issues in his 2004
novel,State of Fear.
Crichton said he lost friends in Hollywood for his novel. He even got death
Crichton has now been vindicated. In 50 years, this might be seen as his
Pageonelit.com: What's next?
John Trudel:This one’s easy.Privacy
Wars, my next novel, will be out this summer. Cyber-privacy is a hot
topic, so the timing should be good.