I’m interviewing J.D. Spero today, author of alternate historical fiction “Catcher’s Keeper”. My questions are bolded, J.D.’s responses are in regular font.
1) What’s the hardest part of being an author?
The hardest part about being an author is that you spend an enormous amount of time in your own head spinning a story, and you feel so passionate about that story…you want to talk about it to everyone. But since no one else is in your head, you sound a little zany. (Just ask my husband, who’s been hearing about my characters’ woes for years now!)
2) Can you give us a short synopsis of Catcher’s Keeper?
Sure! Alden Gallagher is miffed when his brother, Jerry, is more interested in the report he wrote at sixteen (aka The Catcher in the Rye) than helping him jumpstart his career as a novelist. After all, that report is now 25 years old and documents the lowest point of his teens – a spiral into depression! Never would he guess that Jerry would steal it and publish it in hopes of reviving his own floundering writing career. Fiona, their younger sister, finds Jerry out while working on PR for his new ‘book’ and convinces Alden to join the book tour and take credit where credit’s due. Embarrassed by its content, Alden reluctantly agrees. In early December 1980, as the tour moves to NYC, an overzealous fan follows. At first it seems their groupie, Mark David (MD), is a harmless enthusiast of the book. But his obsession quickly turns dark, revealing an irrational vendetta against a world-famous celebrity: John Lennon. Not only does MD credit the book as his motivation, but he expects Alden to join his cause. Jerry and Alden must put their own issues aside in order to work together and stop MD from committing an unthinkable crime.
3) Is this part of a series, or stand-alone?
Stand-alone. To quote my main character in response to Mark David Chapman wanting to “write a sequel” to The Catcher in the Rye: “There is no Part Two. There is no Chapter 27!”
4) How many hours per day do you spend writing?
It varies. I’m a mother of three young boys (one not yet in school)—which is a full-time job in itself. It’s hard to fit writing time into normal life. When my boys used to nap, I would use that time to write. Sometimes I get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to write. My little one now goes to pre-school two days per week. I use as much of that time as possible to write. For this novel, I was so anxious to get it down, I would wait until my entire family was asleep before sneaking down to my computer where I would write until 1 or 2 a.m.
5) What is your favorite book in the same genre as yours?
Probably because I taught high school English, I adore spin-offs on classics. I love when an author offers an alternative viewpoint of a secondary character. For instance, FINN by John Clinch offers a brilliant view of Huck Finn’s father. I think Mark Twain would’ve loved it too. And Gregory Maguire’s WICKED has made the world sympathize with the most notorious villain, the Wicked Witch of the West. What a triumph!
6) What are you working on now?
I’m currently querying a completed Middle Grade Magical Realism manuscript entitled PLAY FOR PAYNE, which is about a young piano prodigy who becomes seduced by a magic potion that gifts athletic prowess. The struggle she endures addresses timely issues such as staying true to yourself in the midst of heavy peer pressure. It also addresses performance-enhancing drug use that has been so prevalent in the news lately. I am just starting to outline another novel, which has an element of mystery…and a very cute hedgehog.
About The Book
Title: Catcher’s Keeper
Author: Johannah Davies Spero
Genre: Commercial Fiction / Alternate History Fiction
What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot?
In 1980 John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who believed he was Holden Caulfield, narrator of the classic The Catcher in the Rye. After the shooting, Chapman remained on the scene calmly reading the book, which he later offered to police as “his statement.” Catcher’s Keeper asks the question, “What if Holden had met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination?”
Johannah Davies Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English literature, Russian language, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, a freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for a signed paperback copy of the book. The giveaway is US/CA only.