John Podlaski served in Vietnam during 1970 and 1971 as an infantryman with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the 501st Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He has spent the years since Vietnam working in various management positions within the automotive industry and has recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Now works in sales and logistics for a Belgium company that supplies gears and shafts for transmissions and diesel engines. John is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 and lives with his wife, Janice, in Sterling Heights, Michigan. They own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage and are both members of the Great Lakes Chapter of South East Michigan Harley Owner’s Group. This is his first novel.
What inspires you to write?
My mother saved every letter written home from Vietnam and presented the boxful to me in the early 1980′s. My wife, Jan, and I spent hours reading through them and sharing new discoveries. We had also come across a pocket diary that I maintained during the war; each page having either an entry summarizing the events of the day or an inner thought / concern.
Jan was in awe and soon realized she was reading about a part of my life that she’d never known or understood. “With all this, could you write about your experiences,” my wife asked, “something to help me understand?” So began the quest to tell a story about my time in Vietnam – the seed sprouted and “Cherries” became the fruit of my labor.
Tell us about your writing process.
I try to be very descriptive of my scenes and allow my characters to tell the story. This has a tendency to bring my readers into the story and make them feel as if they are right there with the characters.
In the case of “Cherries”, both my hand-written letters home from Vietnam and a personal diary were used to create a chronological outline, which I used to flesh out the story. There wasn’t a need to create characters as they already existed.
“Cherries” began 35 years ago – evolving from hundreds of typed pages from a manual typewriter and carbon paper – through the early pioneering levels of electronic word processors – to it’s final resting place on a USB memory stick formatted in Microsoft Word. Writers today have it much easier in comparison to the past – editing required the author to retype an entire chapter in order to maintain style and format within the manuscript. It was a long and tedious process! Today, editing is a breeze!
What advice would you give other writers?
To never give up! Try to set some time aside daily to pursue your interest in writing. Start out small with blogs or e-zine articles to perfect your craft, then move up to short-stories, self-help or other topics of interest to readers. As you grow your following – they will become supportive and help promote your work in the future.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Thirty years ago, I was mailing copies of my manuscript to publishers all over the country and hoping somebody picks up my story. Unfortunately, I grew a collection of rejection letters over time. Nobody was interested unless I had either an agent or was an already published author. Vanity publishers tempted new authors with promises of publishing their work, those who signed up, spent a lot of money and still have hundreds of books left in their garage today.
“Cherries” was originally written in a first person format. A publishing house in Georgia offered to take another look at my work providing I rewrote it to a third person point of view. I worked on this feverishly for the next year, before finally giving up. I was worn out! The work was only 50% complete and sat dormant in my garage for the next twenty-five years.
Finally, in 2009, self-publishing and e-books were growing in popularity. The internet was loaded with tons of information and readers were showing an interest in books by Indie Authors. It was a win-win situation and one that I am glad in having pursued. Publishers are still out there and available, but self-publishing is not difficult and gives an author full control of his project. There are pros and cons to both throughout the internet…it has to be the author’s choice in the direction they want to go.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I personally see the brick and mortar book stores closing in the future as electronic books, magazines newspapers and book sites become more popular. Many e-book readers are complaining that the “big” publishers are still demanding higher prices for those electronic books by popular, well-known authors. However, readers are finding Indie authors and self-published books growing in popularity – not only due to low pricing and instant availability, but because they are discovering many stories to be well-written and comparable to those written by popular authors – trying them out is not a great risk or investment. On the down side, many self-published authors are taking shortcuts and publishing sub-par books to save on editing costs and other expenses. This is not only hurting them as individuals, but it also affects all Indie Authors as a group by painting them with the same brush. If you plan to self-publish, please make sure your book is the best it can be!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Historical Fiction / Military / Vietnam War
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print