Author Interview – John Foley + Contest

April 3, 2009

John Foley is the writer of A Mighty Wall which was released April 1. He has also written several other novels like Hoops of Steel and Running with the Wind. Aside from being a writer, he is also a high school teacher. I really enjoyed A Mighty Wall. Unfortunately, the novel has been receiving very little hype, so I will have a contest.  🙂 For details, look below.

1. How long did it take you to write A Mighty Wall?

I started writing A Mighty Wall in April, 2007, and had about 60 manuscript pages done by the end of the school year in June. As a teacher, I had the summer off, and I completed the rest of the manuscript (140 pages, so it was 200 total) between mid-June and early September.

2. According to your blog, you are not a climber, so what inspired you to write a novel that focuses on it?

I love the mountains, and as a “Bounder” — a hiker with standards (“Bounders don’t whine”) and a motto (“Every man for himself”) — I’ve scaled 60 or so short summits in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Scotland and Ireland. I’m not physically capable of climbing big mountains in the Himalayas or sheer cliffs, and have no desire to do so. A Clint Eastwood character famously said, “A man has got to know his limitations,” and I do. I was curious about athletes who do test themselves against such imposing natural monuments.


3. In the novel, what character do you relate to the most, and how?

There is some of me in Zenny, though he is a better person than I am. I practice Buddhist meditation, try to live simply and paint a bit. And there is some of me in the English teacher who makes a brief cameo…The Pete character is probably the most interesting in the novel, and he’s a composite of a friend of mine and Mercutio — Romeo’s bawdy buddy and my favorite Shakespearean character.

4. What research did you do for the novel?

I interviewed climbers, joined a climbing gym, read many books, scaled the better part of Mount Rainier and did my usual mountain hikes.

5. As a teen, what novels did you like?

I read mostly nonfiction books about basketball in high school, but I do remember enjoying Frankenstein, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Semi-Tough. That last one is a profane, politically incorrect novel about rebellious football players, and probably the funniest book I’ve ever read.

6. Why did you decide to be a teacher and a writer?

Writing and teaching seemed a very natural path for me. I love literature and enjoy the challenge of connecting books and stories to the lives of my students.

7. When will your next novel, tentatively titled Death in the Wild be released, and what can you tell us about it?

Death in the Wild is currently under consideration by a major New York publisher, which is exciting. No release date yet. It’s about a climbing trip to Alaska that goes awry, and becomes a survival story in a very remote part of the state — the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle. I visited there last summer to research the novel. A very beautiful place that few people get to see.

8. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Work an interesting job. Take chances. Travel. Talk to weird people. Have fun. Eavesdrop.

9. Is there anything else you would like to add?

“Plunge into the heat of battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the lord.”-The Gita

Thank you for participating! If you would like to know more about John Foley, just go to his website.

Win a Copy of A Mighty Wall

To enter, just comment below. You may also receive extra entries :

+2 mentioning this contest on your blog (sidebar is fine)

+1 following me (let me know!)

This contest will end April 24th May 1st.

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