Q&A With John Stamp
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Q&A With John Stamp
Today’s Q&A is with thriller author John Stamp. John Stamp used his career in local law enforcement and federal agencies (FBI and NCIS) to write his crime thriller novels. John also has a podcast titled That’s Criminal with John Stamp. The show features candid long-form interviews with prominent true crime and thriller writers to discuss writing craft, government service, books, investigations, movies, and other spontaneous news of the day.
Q: So, John is it fair to say that when anyone wants to be an author, they should write what they know? I read your bio your publicist Lis Malone sent me. While you were a police officer in Charleston, South Carolina, you carried your notebook with you to jot down ideas and experiences that you could use in your writing.
A: Hi Bianca and thank you very much for inviting me for interview. I’ve carried a notebook with me since my first creative writing class my senior year of high school. I filled them all with ideas for stories, characters, etc. that I thought I could use to one day become the next Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy. It is important, I think, to start with writing what you know. It’s a daunting enough task to try and write a book. If you write in a genre, or a world in which you’re familiar, then that’s one last thing to worry about. I haven’t made it a habit to incorporate real life on the job experiences, such as calls or investigations, into my books but there are characters based on real people I’ve come across during my career. I think amalgams of people, incidents, and investigations would be a better way to put it. I take the most interesting parts of individuals, cases, or calls that I’ve been a part of to fill certain parts of my stories. But I’ve never put anything specifically in any one of my books.
Q: What was it like transitioning from being a police officer to then working for the FBI and NCIS to then writing full-time?
A: Being a police officer is the best job in law enforcement. For me, I liked having a job where you had no idea what might happen from one day to the next. Transitioning to federal law enforcement was interesting in that the cases and resources that could be brought to a case were much greater than I had at the local level. At the FBI there was the added opportunity to strategize and plan how a case would unfold, so there was the ability to not just react to a call over the radio but to collaborate with other agencies who could bring specific strengths to bear to have the most thorough investigations. It took a little while to get over the excitement of facing whatever calls came over the radio, but the intricacies of some of the cases I worked and the ability to serve in various disciplines, and locations brought a lot of satisfaction to being a Special Agent.
Q: If you were to write in another genre that wasn’t a crime thriller novel, which genres would you choose to write and why?
A: I’ve written in multiple genres. My first novel, Shattered Circle was a mix between a police procedural and horror. I pitted a very pragmatic homicide detective against a cult practicing blood magic. So, I was still, in a sense, writing what I know, but I also wanted to mash the world of law enforcement and dark horror fantasy together to see how the two dynamics would work out. I also really wanted to write a high fantasy, just to take myself into an entirely different world so I wrote Die Hard in a castle, so to speak. In Wraith of Sheltermount I took an extremely privileged lord, killed off his guard force, and left him alone in a castle filled with mercenaries. It was a very fulfilling project, but writing in such an alien forum was a real challenge.
Q: So, when did you realize that writing was your calling in life?
A: I read Peter Benchley’s Jaws when I was ten and was hooked as a reader. I continued, diving into Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Joseph Wambaugh, and Dean Koontz. The more I read the more I wanted to be the one writing the stories so I kind of got hooked at an early age. It wasn’t until I was thirty-six that I was finally able to put Shattered Circle together. The ideas were always there, the problem I had was the sitting down at a specific time to write consistently. Once I figured that out, I was off to the races.
Q: On top of being an author, you have your own podcast. How do you juggle having a podcast with writing? What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do their own podcast?
A: I have no idea how I juggle writing, podcasting, work, and two little kids. I’ve always been the type to just dive into something. I found that I liked being a guest on podcasts so, kind of like reading made me want to be a writer; I thought I can do that. I came home one day and decided I wanted to talk to authors. With my background I figured true crime, and the thriller genres would make for pretty good conversations, so I went for it. As far as giving advice on podcasting I’m still figuring it out myself. Not sure I’m the best person to give advice. I will say do your research, know who your interviewing, and don’t give up.
Q: Would you like to share with the readers of the blog and I a little bit about your latest book Blood Red Ivory?
A: Blood Red Ivory is the first in my Ty Benhoff series. Ty’s a character I came up with a while back. He’s not like most ‘heroes’ in thrillers. He’s more like John Maclean from Die Hard. Ty’s an amalgam of the most fun cops I’ve worked with over the last twenty years. These traits mostly include sarcasm, a massive disrespect for authority, drive, and tenacity when it comes to closing a case. Ty was there without a story until I read an article about the Akashinga, an all-female anti-poaching unit in Zimbabwe. I was so impressed by the story of these women that I had to write them. So, I threw Ty into the middle of a homicide in rural Zimbabwe, and unknowingly into the middle of a range war between this anti-poaching force and vicious ivory traffickers. Lots of action and humor in this book, but like I mentioned earlier, Ty isn’t a commando–no SWAT training. He’s just a street cop turned Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent. That’s why the tagline is, ‘Some cases you solve, some cases you survive.’ The second Ty Benhoff book should be out later this year. I’m editing right now.
Q: Who have you interviewed on your podcast?
A: I’ve talked to a bunch of authors, from true crime and the thriller genre. I’ve had some great conversations with psychologists, crime reporters, K-9 officers, undercover agents, movie directors, and a couple of mafioso, even a survivor who was attacked by the Son of Sam serial killer. If anyone needed an idea of where to start on the podcast I would suggest Dr. Bill Kimberlin, Dr. Joni Johnson, or my interview with Craig McGuire and Carmine Imbriale.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry is lacking originality and is long overdue for original content again.
A: I’ve chatted with a few of people about a couple of my books but to date no one has optioned any of my work. I’m more than open to that conversation, for sure.
For more information on John Stamp, please visit his website at www.johnstampwriter.com
Order “Blood Red Ivory” on Amazon: https://a.co/d/1nT2KhW
Follow John Stamp on social media:
Listen to “That’s Criminal with John Stamp” on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3r5CM6m1x4dTgbKhyB2O7j?si=_79b_lCyQhi-Ks1_Nk3v6Q