John Scherber – The Devil’s Workshop

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is titled, The Devil’s Workshop. It’s a thriller set in Santa Fe, St. Paul, and Santa Elena, Mexico, a city based on Guadalajara. The story concerns a revenge plot that’s been more than 400 years in the making, pitting one branch of a family against another.

Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up in Minnesota, and my first job out of college was as a writer/editor in the mental health field. I wanted to write fiction. I did two bad novels and, realizing they weren’t any good, utterly ran off the rails. When I tried to go back to it, I found I was totally blocked, and was unable to write another word for 37 years. Going back to it in 2005, after a career in business, I wrote 16 books in six years. There was a lot built up behind the dam.

What inspired you to write this book?

I bought a painting in Santa Fe depicting a young man who appeared about 94% human. As I looked at it over the years I wondered what kind of world he inhabited. It would be much like mine, but not entirely so. His world became the basis for The Devil’s Workshop.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

Even in high school I had a strong way with words. I began writing short fiction then and my teachers encouraged me. It continued in college.

Do you have any writing rituals?

After my long blockage, I’m pleased to say I have no rituals and no fears. I simply trust my process. I sit down each day and write. If nothing comes immediately, I go back a few pages and polish what I wrote the previous time. This usually carries me forward. One key is that I realized it’s not about me––it’s only about the material.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned to trust myself more, after going through a series of sessions with a book doctor who felt she could help me improve it. Some of her advice was helpful, and I put it to good use, but most of it wasn’t.

What types of books do you like to read? Why?

I read mostly mystery writers because I like to see what they’re doing. I’ve done so much writing now during the last six years that it’s easy to see the bones and structure in other people’s work. I try to avoid the errors I see, and I like to be sure that my work is different from anyone else’s. My own books are set mostly in Mexico, because that’s where I live, and so it’s easy to give them a different flavor. My mysteries are in a series, using a main detective character, Paul Zacher, who’s an artist. He’s drawn into the first case because he might see things differently. He does.

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

I’m working on the ninth book of my mystery series, titled, The Theft of the Virgin, about a group that steals the Our Lady of Guadalupe image from the cathedral in Mexico City and substitutes a copy.

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

Work as hard as you can, make no excuses, show your work in progress to others who are serious readers and solicit their comments. Listen hard, and use what you can. Most importantly, Never Give Up!

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The perfect reader for my books is a person who wants to accompany me into a slightly different world, one with humor, adventure, surprise, and humanity. Someone who likes art, culture, romance, and using her own imagination to fill in those tiny openings in the text with her own thoughts and ideas. I try to leave space for this kind of participation, and I think of it as having stories with a bit of ‘air’ in them.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can readily find me at my website, www.sanmiguelallendebooks.com, and at Amazon, and at my Amazon author page.

They can also contact me from my website. I love to hear from them and I answer all emails.