Today folks for your reading pleasure I would like to present an interview with Jon F. Merz, author of the Lawson series of Vampire novels
Jon F. Merz is an American writer. Based in New England, he is the author of over a dozen novels – mostly thrillers with a supernatural bent – known for the Lawson Vampire series of novels. Prior to embarking on a full-time writing career, he served in the United States Air Force and worked for the US government and in private sector security. He splits his time between New York City and suburban Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife and two sons
GNOH – Hello Jon how are things over in Boston?
Hi! A little cool and rainy at the moment – not very June-like right now, but that’s good writing weather, so I can’t complain.
GNOH – Could you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
Sure thing: I’ve been a professional writer since 1998, with over two dozen novels published by houses like Kensington, St. Martin’s Press, Harlequin/Gold Eagle, Penguin/Putnam, and many others. I’ve branched out into indie publishing with my ebooks since February of 2011 and the journey has been incredible.
I’ve also started a production company with my good friend Jaime Hassett to bring my Lawson series to television. We start the pilot shoot very soon.
GNOH – Is it true that you were fired from a job for storing one of your stories on the company’s computer systems?
Yup. In 1998, my Napoleonic boss wanted me to do all of this extra work with no increase in salary or title (I was taking on another person’s entire job) and I said no. So he started a campaign to get rid of me and the key piece he used against me was that I had stored my 90,000 novel-in-progress on a company computer.
Looking back, being fired was the best thing that cold have happened for my career as a writer.
GNOH – What was the catalyst that got you to start writing?
I’d always loved reading and eventually I started seeing these movies in my mind and I wanted to put them down on to paper. I had a very vivid dream that I later saw turned into The Bodyguard and thought, “right, time to start writing these things down and making some money doing it.”
GNOH – Who are your literary heroes?
Wow, that’s a long list: Tolkien, Poe, Robert Parker, Robert Leslie Bellem, Mickey Spillane, David Morrell, Guy de Maupassant, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and a metric ton of others.
GNOH – How would you describe your style of writing?
Lean. Edgy. Sarcastic. Violent. My novels tend to let the reader fill in a lot of the descriptive scenery. I use a little to paint a picture. I’d say it would be similar to the concept of “economy of line” that you might see in the art world.
GNOH – Your probably most famous for your Vampire series featuring Lawson who is a Vampire Fixer. Why do you think this has become so popular?
Probably because Lawson is so very unlike every other bloodsucker out there. He’s not undead. Lawson is a member of a race of “living” vampires who have evolved alongside humanity for thousands of years and live in secret within their midst. He’s more of a James Bond with fangs type of anti-hero than someone who moans endlessly about the woeful existence of being immortal. Lawson’s job involves a lot of bad people and his methods are violence mixed with witty one-liners. I think there’s a demographic that really digs that slant on the genre. I’m happy to be providing it!
GNOH – Would I be right in thinking that there is a lot of you in Lawson? You seem to have put a lot of your experience with the martial arts into his character?
Lawson was very much me at the start of the series, but he’s definitely evolved into his own man, so to speak. But yes, my extensive martial arts background is a key part of his personality as well. So is the sarcasm, heh heh.
GNOH – When the series first came out, did you purposely sit down and try and bring a new twist to vampires?
The series actually started as a short story called “Past Imperfect,” that some writing group friends read and suggested I turn into a novel. When I decided to go for it, that’s when I knew I needed something different. This was 2001 and there were already a ton of vampire series around. So from the start I tried to bring a fresh mythology to the genre. Yes, definitely.
GNOH – Why do you think the appeal of vampires is so enduring?
The power “typical” vampires have is something a lot of people crave in their own lives. Society tends to almost program us into certain acceptable lifestyles and patterns of behavior. Vampires don’t abide any of that. They are their own masters and are able to bend others to their will rather than having their own spirits controlled by others. I think many fans really wish they had that ability as well. Then, there’s the undercurrent of sexuality and forbidden loves, that gets people motoring as well.
GNOH – Can you give away any snippets of future Lawson adventures?
THE SHEPHERD, a 30,000-word novella comes out this week and sees Lawson over in Pakistan/Afghanistan tracking down an elusive foe. OATHBREAKER, a short story Lawson adventure will be out by the end of the month and put Lawson in a hospital to find a renegade vampire bleeding the patients. I’m working on the next Lawson novel, THE RIPPER and hope to have that out by the end of the year.
GNOH – You’ve also written a Rogue Angel novel, how did you become involved with that series?
I’ve actually penned eleven installments in the series. I went to NYC to have lunch with a great editor at Harlequin when I was interested in moving Lawson there in 2004. That didn’t work out, but she put me in touch with Feroze Mohammed at Gold Eagle who wanted me to start working on Rogue Angel. Feroze is retired now and some of the other great folks at Gold Eagle are moving on, but they were always a great joy to work with. I loved my time with them, but after 11 books, I needed a break! Plus, with the indie publishing movement, I wanted to get some of my backburnered projects done and out.
GNOH – Was fun to get to play around with another authors character and world?
It definitely was! Annja Creed’s adventures got pretty crazy, but I always had a blast with her character.
GNOH – You and Joe Nassie are working together, which makes me smile with anticipation, can you tell us about this project?
HELLStalkers is a SF/action/supernatural series we’ll be bringing out shortly. An elite multinational team of specops veterans is assembled to combat the creatures coming through a tear in the dimensional fabric caused by the experiments at CERN in Geneva. Lots of crazy fun! And Joe is one of my closest pals in the business, so it should be a blast. We’re hoping to have book 1 finished within a few months.
GNOH – How do the two of you actually go about writing the story?
It’s a back-and-forth arrangement with each of us writing a chapter and adding/editing as we go. Joe and I have had a number of ideas that we wanted to pursue jointly, so we’re pretty happy about being able to finally get this one done!
GNOH – You’ve also set up New Ronin Entertainment, how is the TV adaptation of the fixer coming along?
Coming along great, actually. Fans can check out our progress by going to http://thefixer.tv and watching clips, etc. We expect to be shooting the pilot very soon and from there, we’ll move into full production of the first season.
GNOH – What made you decide to take the bull by the horns and do this yourself?
Over the years, I’ve made a great number of friends in the entertainment industry, had the “meetings,” pitch sessions, you name it. Some of those folks became very close friends and when deals wouldn’t pan out for one reason or another, in 2007, my pal Jaime and I decided to do it ourselves. The technology is changing everyday. So is the business model. So, why not take it on and try to make it into something huge? I’ve always been a risk taker, so it was a natural leap for me.
GNOH – How big has the learning curve been on this?
Pretty steep, but that’s okay. I love learning something new. Our biggest hurdle has been finding investors. We’ve talked to billionaires, millionaires, and thousandaires and have done best with thousandaires. Apart from that, it’s just been a matter of getting to grips with another aspect of entertainment. I love it.
GNOH – Charity work is also very dear to your heart; can you tell us bit about the work you are involved in?
I have a few things I’m involved with right now. ENEMY MINE, a Lawson short story I wrote in the wake of the Japan nuclear disaster is selling well and every bit of proceeds goes to the relief fund established to help survivors over there. Japan is near and dear to my heart, and I was scheduled to be there for training when the disaster struck. I was lucky to avoid that entire mess, but I can’t forget the friends that I have over there.
Also, I have a real soft spot for kids. I make sure I do a lot of stuff for children’s charities especially around Christmas. The thought of a child not waking up to something special on Christmas Day breaks my heart.
As we ramp up production on THE FIXER and get the company better established, you’re going to see a lot more in terms of charitable work. That’s one of the key tenets of this new company: the idea of making sure we give back. Too many people forget those less fortunate than themselves and we want to be sure that never happens with New Ronin.
GNOH – Can you tell the readers about what the future holds for you?
Lots more writing! I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of my ugly mug in the next six months as things progress. I’ve got a lot of plans and at this stage in my life, I’m excited to bring them all to fruition. I’ve never wanted to have that mellow, laid back existence. To me, life is all about the experiences you create for yourself and others and I wake up every single day being able to hopefully give my readers (and soon, viewers) an escape from their lives. To me, that’s the best job I could ever hope for.
GNOH – Thank you so much for popping over for a chat Jon. It’s been an honour chatting with you
Thank you so much, Jim! I really appreciate it!
You can purchase Jon’s books on Amazon.com for the Kindle and Barnes&Noble.com for the Nook. Jon’s latest Lawson novel THE KENSEI is also available in print in stores everywhere from St. Martin’s Press. Jon’s websites are as follows: