Author John J. Zelenski currently resides in beautiful northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and two children. Besides writing, John works as a VA Certifying Official for the oldest distance-learning school in the United States. In his spare time (which is scarce) he enjoys collecting and selling sports cards and memorabilia and playing bass guitar, and video games.
John was inspired to write “Walker’s Vale” in part from some of his own experiences in the realm of the supernatural when he was a child. He is a born-again Christian and attends a Pentecostal church in his area. John is an admirer of the life and teachings of Smith Wigglesworth and William Branham. He cites Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti as essential influences on his writing.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I try to lock myself into a room and block out all distractions if possible. I don’t set a minimum word count that I must adhere to, but when I feel like I’ve accomplished a significant portion of the story, I’ll call it a day and move on to another project.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it’s a quirk or interesting, but I do like to keep a few snacks and some iced tea on hand. They seem to keep the creative juices flowing. Other than that, I have my computer positioned next to my print of Billy Jacob’s Amazing Grace. It reminds me of the town of Walker’s Vale from my stories.
How do books get published?
Traditionally, an author would need to find an agent to “shop” their books to various publishing houses. However, with the creation of print on demand technology and DIY aficionados, virtually anyone can publish a book.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I draw from my own experiences and personal triumphs and tragedies. I’ve also been told I do have a pretty good imagination, so that tends to help quite a bit. I’ve also had dreams where ideas have been spawned, so information can, for me at least, come via the real world or from the outer reaches of the subconscious.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I suppose I would have been around twenty-three or so. The book was titled Money for Sale and it was a reference book on how to make additional income from buying and selling sports collectibles. That was a totally do-it-yourself experience that was a lot of fun.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Most of my non-writing time is spent with my family. Having two kids under the age of eight keeps a dad pretty busy. My other side adventure is dealing in sports cards and collectibles. When I can break away for some quiet time, I enjoy watching movies.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family has been very supportive of my writing, giving encouragement when needed and some constructive criticism when necessary. Having a great support team around you is essential to a developing writing career.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think the most surprising aspect was that the pages I had written became a mirror to my own soul. I found my inner self staring back at me. It was unintentional, but the more I developed my characters, the more I began to see their flaws and strengths in my own life. I guess it was art imitating life, or vice versa at times. I never knew how much a writer pours of himself into his own cup.
How many books have you written?
I have written two books that are in the marketplace now. Walker’s Vale and its prequel, The Journal of Ezekiel Walker.
Which is your favorite?
I would have to say at this point at least, Walker’s Vale is what I am most proud of. Right now, Walker’s Vale is in pre-production being developed into a motion picture with Allegentsia Productions in Hollywood, CA. The script was written by the very talented Paul Rose Jr.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
One thing I would suggest is to write from the heart. I try to “keep it real” when writing. I am not trying to please anyone in particular, so I prefer to let the story go where it wants to go without making it try to fit into a particular category. That may not be popular, but I believe honesty in storytelling is something that readers can sense when they pick up a story.
Do you hear from your readers much?
Yes – I love to hear from readers of books. I am always looking for feedback on my stories.
What kinds of things do they say?
Generally the comments are really positive. I had one lady who commented that after she read Walker’s Vale, she decided to re-commit her life to God. What better compliment is there than that?
What do you think makes a good story?
I believe a good story is rooted in the author’s own sense of freedom to be real with the plot and the characters, but the story itself must also be fused with creativity that will capture the reader. Once the foundation is laid, I think the key is make the reader feel like they are actually inside the story, searching for a way to lose themselves….or trying to find a wat to get out!
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Interesting question. I actually thought I would be working somewhere in the medical field. Of course as a child, I was obsessed with pro wrestling, so maybe I environed myself in a hospital somewhere.
The writer words:
I was live in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania, and love to watch the seasons change with my family. When not writing about ghosts, angles, demons, or anything supernatural, you just may find me doing chores around the house so that in my free time I can write about ghosts, angles, demons, or anything supernatural. I do however enjoy sports and collecting sports memorabilia. I’ve been told that I usually have the stereo cranked too loud with Christian heavy metal.