Sunday, March 8, 2015

Author John C. Dalglish shares more than a name with P.D. James's famous detective

It's funny what draws us to a particular author or book. I was drawn to mystery/suspense author John C. Dalglish because his surname reminded me of P.D. James's great detective, Adam Dalgliesh. Yes, they're spelled differently. Like I said, these connections are funny.

What I found in Dalglish is a kindred spirit; a man who believes riveting suspense and killer action isn't defined by the amount of sex, gore, or profanity laced within its pages. Rather, it's the intricacy of the plot, attraction to the characters, and the amount of adrenaline pulsing through your veins as you turn the pages. 

Book ten of the Det. Strong series is now in print, proving he's found a winning formula that keeps bringing readers back for more. He also has a new "Chaser" series. Both are available through a variety of outlets, including Amazon and Kindle.
John C. Dalglish and friend

Tell us about Det. Jason Strong. The name is very evocative. What do readers need to know about this character?
The name for the character Jason came about as most of my names do; made up on the spot. What I think is interesting is that Jason was just a character to fill a roll, and was never meant to be a series. I tell people that I met Jason at the same time they did, when he walked onto the page. It wasn't until I was near the end of the book that I mentioned to some co-workers how much I liked the character. I decided to make a series out of him if the first book was well received.

We've heard other authors say they spent their entire lives writing their first book, but only got a few months to write all the ones after that. How has writing gotten easier or harder over the years?
I was discussing this with my wife this morning. I feel very fortunate that the stories come out of my head and onto the page in a fashion that I'm happy with. I rarely scrap large sections of a book. Obviously, there is much editing and tweaking, but the basics come out fairly organized. As far as easier-versus-harder, I can only speak for myself; it becomes harder to put out a good book, simply because you learn more about what a well-written book is, and how to do it. To write properly is hard, but more satisfying as you hopefully see yourself improve.

Take us behind the scenes regarding your writing process. Do you create an outline, start with characters and let the book write itself, or...?
I am very much an outline guy. I will begin with my basic premise, and write a series of scenes as bullet points. Things like- 'Jason goes to victims house', Vanessa goes to crime lab'- then start at the top. New ideas and scenes are added or subtracted by the story as it develops, but I continue to write in order. The most fun in the writing experience for me is watching what happens as I write the scenes. Details, conversations, action; they all come as I write and it's very exciting for me. (Hopefully, for the reader, too.)

You were born in Canada, but became an American citizen in 1991. How do you think your cross-cultural experiences have affected your writing?
I'm not sure the cultural differences have made much difference. Having said that, the fact that I have traveled in both countries, has given me a wider array of description possibilities.  My own feeling is that the life experiences, which give a writer something to draw on when he looks at emotions and reactions, are more important.

When people look you up on Amazon, they will see that you identify your books as "clean suspense." Tell me what you mean by that and why that's important to you.
Well, let's see; that's kind of a long story, but let me shorten it some. The first published draft of "Where's My Son?" had two or three swear words, and a little more descriptive violence than I would have preferred. I felt I needed them for realism. However, when I wrote "Bloodstain", I found I just preferred to leave it out. Following the publishing of the first two books, I received many letters thanking me for not using excessive language and sex. I discussed it with my wife, and made the decision to write 'clean' books. We reasoned that some of the top selling movies and books in the world were done by Disney, and there had to be a group of people that felt like we did. As a result, I went back and edited the first book and have been writing in that fashion ever since.

 How do you think the decision to not include gratuitous violence or sex has either helped or hurt your sales?
Without question, it has been a good decision. I have a police officer friend who I spoke to about this. I asked him if every third word from a cop was a cuss word. He laughed. "Hardly, that they were normal folks with normal feelings". He didn't say they don't swear, just that it doesn't occur at the level portrayed in movies. I still, ten books in, get letters thanking me for books that are 'clean'. They are the type I would read and I'm glad others do, too.

 You share surnames with one of my favorite characters of all time, Inspector Dalgliesh from the P.D. James novels. Ms. James has had a huge influence on my writing, as have Brandilyn Collins, Frank Peretti, and Sue Henry. Who are some of the writers who have most influenced your work?
Peretti is a good one, I enjoy his books a lot. Tom Clancy, and of all people, Erma Bombeck.  She taught me how to be funny in a book.

I asked you about Det. Jason Strong earlier, but you have another series that could probably be best described as "science (and faith) fiction." What is the Chaser Series?
I had a desire to do a pure Christian series, and the concept came to me as a takeoff on Touched By An Angel. What events could I create in a life after death scenario? I pitched the idea to my son, who is a fantasy author, and he liked it.

One of your books that has grabbed my attention and never let go deals with brothers Donnie and Billy Jarvis. Tell us about those characters and how you came up with the book "For My Brother" in which they appear.
You know, I'm not sure where the exact idea came from. My wife and I love the real life crime shows, and a lot of my basic ideas come from what bubbles up while watching them. The relationships in that book stem from events in my own life, and how events impact people's futures.

 Finally, do you consider yourself a Christian author or an author of books who is a Christian, if you catch the distinction. What do you think the secular market is like for those who refuse to play to the "Fifty Shades of Gray" and "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" crowd?

First, as I think most believer's would say, I am a Christian. Everything I write, say, and do is shaped by that fact. So, I guess the latter statement would be true. As far as the "Fifty Shades" thing, I believe that Hollywood, Amazon, and anyone else in publishing, is willing to profit from a selling entity. I think the "Left Behind" series is a perfect example of that. Perhaps I'm naive, but I believe people want a good book, a story they get lost in, one that they feel sorry when it's over. I'm not sure the amount of sex or language determines that.

John C Dalglish's website is You can find his author page at

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