Friday, April 12, 2013

John Lansing

An interview with John Lansing

Cloey: When did you become interested in writing?

John: I didn’t grow up dreaming about being a writer. It wasn’t even on my short list. But now in hindsight I do think writing books was a natural evolution from my time spent working in Hollywood.

Writing my first script was actually a fluke. I had committed to directing a short film. My friend, Spencer Eastman, a wonderful screenwriter offered to write the script that I would then produce and direct. Tragically, Spencer got sick and I was forced to fend for myself. Write the script, or give up the project.

Writing that short film was a turning point in my life. I discovered the joy of creating a work instead of interpreting, and it led to a writing partnership and many fruitful years of television work.

My acting career helped inform the characters I wrote for, and about, and created, in my television work. The craft of acting helped me understand the emotional roadmap needed to flesh out complex characters, characters that will hopefully be compelling enough to maintain a reader’s interest.

My television work taught me discipline, writing on a schedule, collaboration, and it really hammered home the type of characters I enjoyed and wanted to invest my time with, characters that were interesting enough for me to spend a year of my life with, and again, hopefully keep an audience reading. Only you can tell me if I’ve succeeded at that and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Cloey: What inspired you to write “The Devil’s Necktie?”

John: I’ve spent the past fifteen years of my television career writing about law enforcement, and I’m a huge fan of crime novels.

I wanted to write about a detective who was standing on the precipice, recovering from a nasty divorce, retiring from the NYPD, leaving Staten Island, and moving west. The old Yiddish proverb pretty much nails it. “Men make plans, God laughs.” My protagonist, Jack Bertolino, chose to do all of those things; it just didn’t quite work out the way he planned. Twenty-five years of taking down drug dealers, money launderers and killers came back to haunt him, and shook up his newfound sense of bliss in Marina del Rey, California.

That was enough of a hook for me to write “The Devil’s Necktie.”

Cloey: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
John: I didn’t write my novel with a message in mind, but what I wanted to accomplish was 

to take my reader on a thrill ride. If I did my job properly, and you can empathize with my characters whether you approve of their actions or not, it should be a page turning read.
Cloey: Who was your favorite character and who was your least favorite character to develop and why? 

John: In all honesty, I don’t have a least favorite. I learned early on as an actor to always 
search out the good in every character you played, even if he was a stone cold killer. If I’m not engaged by one of my characters, he or she won’t make the cut. I don’t suffer fools and I don’t waste time on characters that don’t interest me, good or bad. 
Cloey: What did you enjoy the most about writing “The Devil’s Necktie?” 

John: After many years writing for network television, the joy of writing my first novel was not having to adhere to a formula created by a TV pilot episode. There was a lot more freedom to explore the psychology and behavior of not only my primary characters, but also my secondary tier. And I didn’t have to worry about writing to commercial breaks. 

Cloey: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?” 

John: It was actually easier to do the research on The Devil’s Necktie than it was when I first started out in television. Back in the day, I would spend hours combing libraries and researching articles and information related to whatever story we were writing at the time. I traveled to Phoenix when we were writing about a rogue group of cops in Arizona. Talked to the local PD and spent time visiting, eating and drinking in their watering holes and got a feel for the neighborhoods where the story was set to take place. 

The Internet has profoundly changed that process. I started writing The Devil’s Necktie and did Google searches, along the way, as I needed information. It’s a time saver and invaluable tool. I was also writing about what I know well. I live and work in Los Angeles and the city became one of my characters.

Cloey: What are you working on now?
John: I’m two hundred pages into my next Jack Bertolino book. It’s called, “Working the Negative.” Jack grew up in a Staten Island neighborhood populated with “made men” and friends of the Mafia. He cut all ties with the dark side when he entered law enforcement and thought he’d left his past securely behind when he moved out to California. But not so quick. Now that he’s retired, Jack finds himself owing a favor to a mob boss who may have saved his son’s life. 

Cloey: What do you like to read in your free time?
John: I’m reading Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night,” currently. I’m a big fan of the crime/thriller genre and read almost anything by Walter Mosley, Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin, Robert Crais, and James Lee Burke. And that’s my short list.

I have a Kindle and love being able to download a book at will. I’m never without a good read. I’m addicted to books.

Cloey: Share something about yourself that we wouldn’t see in your bio?
John: I like to drink eighteen-year-old Macallan. I make meatballs that float, an old trick that I learned from my aunt. I put together a rock band and played at CBGB’s in New York City, and I rode my motorcycle up the California coastline from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Cloey: Thank you so much for giving us a view of your writing process and for sharing The Devil's Necktie with us today, I can't wait to read it!

The Devil’s Necktie
John Lansing

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Publisher: Gallery Books, Simon&Schuster/Karen Hunter Publishing
ISBN: 10:1451698348

Amazon Simon and Schuster  Barnes and Noble

Book Description:

A Sizzling thriller for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. An exciting tour into the real-life world of cops, crime, and murder. Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered – and Jack is the lead suspect. Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Columbian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and murderers and discovers that the top players knew Mia personally. And now Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover…either way, the body count will rise.

About the Author:

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.”

He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie is his first novel.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More of the tour...

April 15 Feature
Bewitching Book Tours Magazine


  1. I'd like to thank Cloey for being my sponsor on her beautiful site. The questions were insightful and I enjoyed the experience. And I'd love to get your thoughts on my book. All the best, John