John Heffernan – Author Interview

What is your most recent book?

Not One Drop Of Blood

Tell us a bit about it.

The non-fiction story is about the transition and conflicts of Washington State Corrections from the simpler 1960’s into a changing confusion of the Department of Social and Health Service 1970’s in both Field Probation and Parole, and the prisons set free. A shift in culture hit in 80’s bringing the punishment solution and waves of prison building that carried forward into 2010. My reports live 30 years of change as a Probation & Parole officer 8 years, a manager in a county/state work release program 8 years and as Superintendent in 3 prisons for 14 years. My time full of learning and changing, as I understood a need to protect the public and inmates from the fear of custody.

“Prison life shocks citizens who learn fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, a loss of humanity; humiliation of strip searches and lost dignity. Fear grew beyond Shylock, in Merchant of Venice, who got no pound of flesh, for a loss of one drop of blood, todays custody extracts, much more than time. I say it goes too far.” John Heffernan

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Williston, ND, but I grew up in Spokane, WA. I served 4 years in the Air Force and graduate from Gonzaga University 1963, (my career listed above). I retire in 1993, and work for a management-consulting firm, before I contact with Department of Corrections from 1996 to 2002 to develop inmate jobs, a Computer 4 Kids program that gave free computers to Washington State public schools.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote because ever since the 1980’s citizens have been all too willing to use prisons, “banishment” as a solution to public safety issues without being aware of the living hell they place fellow citizens. Violence in its’ prisons is not acceptable for a society that values humans. I ran (Geiger Correctional Center, Pine Lodge Correctional Center, and Airway Heights Correctional Center) fear free so did not create terrorists, or gang members.

How did you publish this book?

Gray Dog Press is the publisher.

Why did you decide on that publisher?

I as a first time author felt very lucky the Gray Dog Press was interested in the work.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I am 72 years old and was 71 years at publishing, so this is not a career move.

How did you get started?

My first draft in 1995 was over 600 pages of thoughts, so I benefited from edits and rewrites more than most, a final draft was finished and edited in 2009.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Over coming the belief that every idea I get is great and everyone who reads me will understand me, because I wrote it.

How do you do research for your books?

My book is non-fiction and based on my memory of the events and times I lived. I was helped by good editing of the facts and in the presentation.

Did you learn anything from writing this book?

I would say that is half a question. The other half is what did you unlearn. My reality had limits of time and space, so as Dr. David Glazer noted in Reality Therapy I start where the reader is.

I cannot know what a reader thinks.

What are you reading now?

Nothing special, since the issues of the day play out in the electronic media.

What types of books do you like to read?

Political history is the topic.

Who are your favorite authors?

I have no special author in mind. Why? I find a time lag that occurs in the written information process.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My grand father John wrote a 40 page history about his arriving and living in Williston 1881 to 1942. My Uncle, John was born 1891 and died 1937 (his daughter is writing a history). I write my life before and after corrections; a great time to live.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Tell someone your concept and ask if it is interesting. We all must write for a reader, so know your audiences (a reader) get beyond page ten. Do your best too make life interesting; the rest can be a sleep-aid.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I follow my publisher, but with an okay contact alumni press, professional groups, or give free copies to libraries showing interest. Book signings can be fun since I have a separate income that does not require X number of books sold. I do not stand on the street corners with a cardboard sign asking citizens too buy my book.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Thank you for your time, John Heffernan


  1. Gregory R Hare says

    I worked for John in the early 1970’s as a Work Release Probation/ Parole Officer in the Spokane County Jail. After thirty two years in Corrections I retired in 1998 and now live with my wonderful wife, Nancy in Portland, Oregon.

  2. Gregory R Hare says

    I found the interview to be quite interesting. I have heard that my name is mentioned in his book.