Today, we are really proud by presenting a really famous interview partner. John Shors – his novels are transtlated into 25 different languages all over the world! Find out how he became a novelist, about a typical day in his life, what it needs to become a successfull author and much more:
Dear John, please describe yourself: Where do you come from? How did you become a novelist?
I’m from Des Moines, Iowa, but have lived in Boulder, Colorado for the last 15 years. I enjoy the America West as there is so much space and beauty. My journey to becoming a novelist began when I was in middle school. One day my father came home from work and decided to lock up our television. At first my brothers and I didn’t know what to do with our free time, other than playing sports and getting into mischief. However, as the months passed we all began to read. Soon I was in love with books, and was reading several every week. A few years later, I decided that I wanted to become a novelist. Of course, I had no idea how difficult a task this goal was, but I felt passionate about my desire to write.
Tell us about the story of your book Temple of a Thousands Faces.
I was fortunate in that my first novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, did very well and went on to become an international bestseller. That novel, which is now in 25 languages, tells the remarkable story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal. Since I had spent a lot of time in Asia, I also knew about Angkor Wat, and felt like it could be the setting for another epic work of historical fiction. I went to Siem Reap in 2010 and was stunned by the magic and majesty of Angkor Wat. I felt like the temple would make a wonderful setting for another novel. It’s such a special place, and now people from all over the world are traveling there.
What is the story behind? How did you find the idea to write it?
In my international bestseller Beneath a Marble Sky, I wrote about the ancient passion, beauty, and brilliance that inspired the building of the Taj Mahal. Now with Temple of a Thousand Faces, I bring to life the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, an unrivaled marvel of ornately carved towers and stone statues. There, in a story set nearly a thousand years ago, an empire is lost, a royal love is tested, and heroism is reborn.
When his land is taken by force, Prince Jayavar of the Khmer people narrowly escapes death at the hands of the conquering Cham king, Indravarman. Exiled from their homeland, he and his mystical wife Ajadevi set up a secret camp in the jungle with the intention of amassing an army bold enough to reclaim their kingdom and free their people. Meanwhile, Indravarman rules with an iron fist, pitting even his most trusted men against each other and quashing any hint of rebellion.
Moving from a poor fisherman’s family whose sons find the courage to take up arms against their oppressors, to a beautiful bride who becomes a prize of war, to an ambitious warrior whose allegiance is torn—Temple of a Thousand Faces is an unforgettable saga of love, betrayal, and survival at any cost.
Please describe a typical day in your life.
My day as a writer is defined by where I am in the writing process. For instance, if I’m just about to start a novel, I may go on a long hike and simply think about the plot. Or if I already have an outline created, I’ll typically write one scene per day. If I’m finished with my rough draft, I’ll edit maybe 25 or 50 or 100 pages a day, depending on how clean the manuscript is. There’s also a business side to being a novelist, and I typically spend my afternoons answering emails or Facebook messages from readers. I also participate in quite a few events.
For people who want to become an author as well: What is the secret to be successful?
I think that it’s really important to spend time editing. I edited my first novel 56 times. I wanted it to be as good as I could get it before I ever tried to find an agent or an editor. So many new writers finish a first draft and think they are done with the project. I always tell them to go over that draft again and again and again. Each time that they do, the piece will get a little better. So, to further answer your question, to me successful writing is as much about patience as it is inspiration.
Please complete this sentence: I love Cambodia, because…
it’s a country with a beautiful history, yet has also experienced more than its fair share of darkness. Despite that darkness, the country is moving into a better and brighter place. I believe in the future of Cambodia and it’s thrilling to be on the ground there, to feel like you’re a part of a seismic change.
Is there anything in Cambodia, which touches you most? If so, would you like to tell us?
Well, of course, I was incredibly inspired by Angkor Wat, so much so that I dedicated two years of my life to writing a novel about the place. Angkor Wat is unique, extraordinary, and mesmerizing. It amazes me what the human race has accomplished, and I think that Angkor Wat is an example of one of humanity’s great achievements.
As a lot of people in Cambodia are poor: How do you support the locals?
Through the proceeds of Temple of a Thousand Faces I’ve tried to make a difference in the lives of modern-day Cambodians. I’ve donated to a children’s hospital, donated to have landmines removed, purchased and delivered hundreds of toys to needy children, and employed local people. I want to make a difference within the countries that I write about, and I know that I can affect positive change in Cambodia. These efforts are really important to me.
What do you think about intercultural dialogue?
I think that the more dialogue people from different cultures have, the better. How can we learn from each other if we don’t understand each other? I also believe that at the end of the day, people are a lot more alike than they are different. It’s important to celebrate those similarities. After all, we all want the best for our children. Let’s spend more time getting to know each other, and working constructively to solve our problems.
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Life certainly has its ups and downs, but fortunately, I’m currently living many of my dreams. I’m a full-time novelist. I’m traveling to many parts of the world. And I have a wonderful family. I’m also happy to have so many readers who are supportive of me.
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