Why did you become a non-fiction writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I chose to become a non-fiction writer probably due to my background as a print journalist – a newspaper reporter. One of my strengths as a reporter has always been my interviewing skills. A common mistake people make when interviewing someone is to ask a question, and then not really listen to the answer. Too many times, the interviewer is already focused on the next question, and they miss something important -- and often unexpected -- that leads the entire interview in a new and exciting direction. It happens most every time, if the reporter/interviewer is paying attention.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of non-fiction?
My latest work of non-fiction – “Depression Blues” – is inspired by my own lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety, and my lifelong search for solutions, which I’m happy to report have been pretty successful. It’s a fascinating story, I’m told, and I know it’s going to help a lot of people.
What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
Well, the most interesting research was probably for my book, “Camino: Laughter and Tears Along Spain’s 500-mile Camino de Santiago.” This is the story of my trek along the famous 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. I kept a journal as I traveled overseas for the first time ever at the age of 50-something, and later turned that journal into my most successful book so far.
Where do you go to do your research?
It depends. For my first-ever book, “Finding God,” I drove back and forth all over my home state of Texas, interviewing people at random about their religious/spiritual beliefs, and compiled all those stories into what became a fascinating look inside the lives of everyday folks, and the tragedies and triumphs that led to the development of their own unique belief systems.
How do you go from an idea for a book to its completion? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
Every book is different. At one time, I was churning out books left and right. I was lucky enough in the beginning to be picked up by a small publisher called Archangel Ink, and that partnership got me started and gave me the confidence and belief that I could do this.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
Right now, I am in the marketing and promotion phase of my first self-publishing project centered around my flagship book, “Depression Blues,” which is currently available on amazon.com. Two other titles are soon to follow: “Darkness to Light,” which focuses on women’s depression issues; and “Gay Blues,” which includes stories and information unique to depression issues faced by homosexuals.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a non-fiction book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
As so many others say, the key to a successful non-fiction book is to have great content. It has to be a good book, first and foremost. It has to be something you are knowledgeable about, and something you care about. It needs to be about something that people believe will improve their lives. Personalize it. People like to read other people’s stories. It’s human nature. It makes it real.
As far as promoting, that is something I continue to learn about every day It’s a pain in the ass, but a necessary one. Do your research. Do your homework. Writing is the easy part. Promotion and marketing is the hard part, and the thing that separates the big boys from the rest of ‘em.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you?
Writing for me is like breathing – it keeps me alive. I have to write. I just have to. I’ve been a professional writer now for a long time. Graduated from the University of Houston in 1987 with a journalism degree. I’ve won a number of awards for journalism – newspaper reporting and column writing – and my books continue to sell, although not enough for me to quit my day job, at this point.
It’s a competitive enterprise, but if you love to write, you write. Like I said, my books don’t provide enough income for me make a living as a full-time, self-supporting author right now, working at home in my boxer shorts and T-shirt, but I know for a fact that my writing touches people’s lives. More people than I can count have told me so.
How cool is that?
Let's Meet the Author
John Henry Clark lives in a one-stoplight central Texas town with three females: a half-blind and highly neurotic mini-dachshund; a beautiful and bulimic calico cat; and his wife, the wonderful woman who takes care of it all. A graduate of the University of Houston, Clark is an award-winning journalist, freelance writer, author, photographer, musician, artist, and avid golfer who has eight published non-fiction books, including his best-seller, Camino: Laughter and Tears Along Spain’s 500-mile Camino de Santiago, which chronicles his two backpacking journeys along the historic pilgrimage across northern Spain. A tireless seeker, researcher and questioner, John has written a number of other fascinating books dealing with the human experience, from tragedies to triumphs and more, including his first published title, Finding God: An Exploration of Spirituality in America’s Heartland. Recently, he has taken up painting, as well, and enjoys using acrylics to create abstract scenes from nature.
Featured Book: “Depression Blues”
More common than you think
Are you depressed? Feeling more than sad? Hopeless and helpless? Struggling to get through the day; thinking no one understands how you feel? Well, the good news is that you are not alone. Not at all. As many as 350 million people worldwide are affected by what the World Health Organization calls “the leading cause of disability worldwide,” and “a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” A lifelong struggle
Clearly, this is not an uncommon condition, and Depression Blues author John Henry Clark wants you to know that no matter how bleak things appear to be, there is hope. Clark writes openly and honestly – in sometimes gut-wrenching detail – about his life and his experiences with depression and anxiety, beginning with his childhood growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Houston, Texas. His upbringing was fairly normal from all outside appearances, but a family history of depression, including a severely depressed father, began to take its toll during his adolescent years. There is hope
Clark tried self-medicating for a long time, nearly destroying his life and himself at one point, before finally seeking medical help in his early 40s. Attempts at counseling and treatment with various medications provided little to no relief, and so Clark – a tireless researcher and information-seeker – set out on his own to find ways to help himself. Read his story and be inspired by his relentless search for answers, never giving up, and his discoveries of how to feel better, and most importantly, how to live a happy life. You can help yourself feel better!
A special thank you to John Henry Clark for being interviewed today at Pandora's Box Gazette.
He is doing a book giveaway. Interested readers can send an email to tell him which one of his books they would like to have, and why? He’ll pick a winner, and send them a signed paperback copy. All his titles can be seen here. Feel free to chat with Mr. Clark and post your comments below.