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Welcome to my first author interview ever! (Speaking of firsts, check out my first ever book cover reveal here) Have you heard of John D. Pepe? Well, you’re about to. I had the privilege of interviewing John D. Pepe who is the author of The Lone Wolf. Let’s cover the basics before we dive into the Q&A.
The Lone Wolf is a fantasy novel with ogres, thieves, armies, and more. Here is the summary:
While tracking a tribe of orcs, Remence comes across much more than that…an ogre mage seeks to unite all the orcs of the region against humans and non-orc kind.
These orcs are well-disciplined, organized, and much better equipped; it is a true army, unlike anything young Remence has ever seen, and they are heading right for his village. When he fails to convince the village elders of the imminent threat to their lives, Remence takes extraordinary measures to save his people.
Caladin and Quinn are much more than the fancy thieves they appear to be. On their latest endeavor, they, too, learn of the orc host bearing down on the people of the region and throw themselves into the fray.
After the gentlemen procurers are hired to uncover information about the recent attack, they enlist the help of Remence, learning their fight is against a common foe.
Alongside a ragtag group of orc hunters, three half-ogre brothers, and a half-orc, Caladin, Quinn, and Remence turn detective and seek to find the person who is aiding the ogre mage. What they discover is that they may be the only ones standing between the massive orc army and the threat to humankind.
Sounds action-packed, doesn’t it? This made me intrigued about the author. John D. Pepe is the author of The Lone Wolf. He is a former practicing attorney turned school counselor. He’s a Neek (Nerd and Geek) and a life long D&D player. He enjoys martial arts/working out, podcasting/blogging, travel, and spending time with his family and friends. He lives in So. Cal. with his wife and son.
Lucky for me I got to ask him any questions I wanted. I asked him 10 lengthy questions and 5 additional quick-answer questions (we’ll get to those soon!). If you didn’t know about him before, you most certainly will now! Keep reading to read our conversation:
What inspired you to write this book?
Well. I had been reading a lot of fantasy and I had picked up some books from a well-known author (who shall not be named). This author, from my previous experience, was superb at world-building and creating synopsis for characters; I mean very impressive.
So, I decided to read a book by this author and I DNF’d it. I mean I just couldn’t bear to finish it. Later, down the road, I decided that maybe I hadn’t given that author a fair shake, so I purchased and read a few other books by said author (who shall not be named) and two were okay and one…not so much.
I went on to read like five more (including the one I DNF’d) and I thought, this is atrocious (like how I put my own thoughts in italics, like I’m a character in a book). I couldn’t believe this person was making money selling this stuff. And I told myself: “I could write a better book!” (I said that out loud).
And so, in February of 2007, after one of many knee surgeries, and not being able to snowboard, I started writing what would later be The Lone Wolf. So, crappy writing by a famous author is what inspired me.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a famous actor. That didn’t happen, but I’m still waiting for the call from Hollywood.
I can definitely clear my schedule for the right role. I’ve always loved entertaining people, even when I was young, and that is part of why I think I gravitated toward writing (and since I never got my big break on the silver screen). As an author you have the power to determine how you want the play to unfold, so to speak.
You write the script, you are the actors, and you direct the entire movie/play when authoring a manuscript. It became my way, I think, to fulfill that need to be on stage.
And part of what I enjoyed, as much as being on stage (I did some community theater and church plays-I don’t want you to think you are interviewing some D list Hollywood actor and get all excited), was when I was allowed free reign to play the character as I saw fit and when I was given the ability to assist in the directing of my character. Writing definitely lends itself to that same freedom of creativity.
Did you come up with the title of The Lone Wolf before or after writing it?
The working title of The Lone Wolf was The Adventure. And my editor-in-chief Jessica Le (she was the first person to do editing of my book-she was a student at my high school-the #1 student at my high school. And I asked her to look over my book) told me that “That title sucks. You really have to change that title.” (My day job is as a high school counselor by the way for those of you who were just thinking- “What is this obscure reference to this girl at his high school? Is he in high school? What is he talking about?”)
Jessica prompted me to change the name, but I agonized over it. The only thing I could come up with was my main character’s alter persona-The Lone Wolf. So, there you have it. The Lone Wolf.
But that title has given me additional ideas for future stories, so I think it will work out in the end. I just didn’t realize there were so many books with the name “Wolf” in them. I can’t even find my book unless I also use my author name. Who would have known?
Who is your favorite character in The Lone Wolf?
Caladin is by far my favorite character. He is just fun to write. His dialogue just flowed out of me.
I never believed it when authors would say “The characters speak to me.” I thought, C’mon? Really? This character, you made up, is talking to you? Sure. (look italics again. Character in thought).
But then I started writing Caladin, and sure enough. Those other authors I thought were full of it were right. (Sorry for doubting you guys) But I love writing him, especially the banter between himself and his cousin Quinn. I pulled from my own life a little bit.
My buddy Chris’s character in D&D is Caladin and mine is Quinn, and some of the quips between the characters are similar to our interactions in real life. Maybe not as funny, especially to my buddy, but similar. And most people who have read or heard pieces of the book say they like him the best.
Will this book become a series?
I do plan on writing some off-shoot books. I have two books in store for Remence. They will deal with his further training as a Ranger and give the readers all the background on the latent powers he is just discovering he possesses.
There will probably be a reemergence of the orcs as a cohesive threat to the lands and he will be tasked with dealing with them. It will also tie in some of the characters I am writing about right now in a different series; the same world. They will be part of his training and help him understand his unique abilities.
I also have two books planned for Caladin and Quinn. Those books will follow them on some further adventures: one being hired by lords to obviate an overthrow of some important port towns (this book also ties into the other series I’m currently writing) and the second, where they will eventually end up in Lundenburn, the largest port city in my world, Orn, where they set up a brothel and thieves guild of their own. You can probably imagine that this will lend itself to some interesting mishaps for our gentlemen procurers.
Do you think your book would be great as a movie?
Of course! And I most certainly should play the lead! In all serious, maybe. I don’t know. It would be great to see my characters come to life on the big screen, but then, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Hollywood to stay true to my work. I’m sure the paycheck would be nice though.
Are you working on any more books? And, are you currently writing any other books?
Yes. The book I was talking about in question 5 is called The Six-The Saga of Vykosch. It will probably be a trilogy. Each book (per my plan) will be maybe 100-120k words.
The Lone Wolf was 142k before editing and still 137k. So, I plan on making these a bit shorter. This is an epic fantasy and it revolves around The First Lich, Vykosch making a pact with The Dark Butterfly, a Drow Goddess, who wants to exact revenge on The Six.
The Six are a mix of well-known heroes who are forced out of retirement to do battle with these gods minions (and possibly the gods themselves) to stop them from getting a foothold in the world. I’m almost done with chapter 3 of book 1. I’m a slow writer so it will be a while (possibly a LONG while) before they are out.
I love the cover of your book. What was the process like coming up with the cover?
So, I looked into a couple of really good cover artists-J Caleb and Felix Ortiz (both recommended to me by ML Spencer)-but for my first book they were just a little too out of my price range.
Then my editor Angie Martin (bythehandediting) suggested Steven Novak. Steven is great! He is cheap, quick, and really captured the vision I wanted. I gave him a picture of a wolf I found online and was using for my blog posts of chapters in the book and a picture of the cover of The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flannagan, along with a brief description of the tundra setting and some insight into my characters.
I told him I really needed to have a Wolf and a Ranger on it and that I like the blue background of The Ranger’s Apprentice book and the blue that was around the wolf picture. Then I left him to his own devices. He had a cover back to me the day he said he would.
It took a few days to get some feedback and I asked him to give me a little more of the Ranger than he had in the first go-round and within a day he had what you see. I even screwed up on my blurb for the back of the paperback and he fixed it within two hours of me contacting him, no charge. He was amazing. I’ve recommended him to a few author friends, and I would recommend him to anyone who wants to get a cover done.
Do you have a favorite book or author?
Favorite author? I like so many, especially since I have been introduced to the Indie world. Probably the person that I most wanted to be like as a writer was R.A. Salvatore.
I think I truly fell in love with Fantasy, and really started devouring fantasy books was after my friend, Jean Pierre (he’s not really French, his mom watched a movie with a character named Jean Pierre in it when she was pregnant with him-and bam!-he’s little Jean Pierre. And that is how you get a French name when you live in Southern California and don’t have French ancestry), encouraged me to read Exile (the book is based around Salvatore’s most popular character-Drizzt).
After that, I asked him to give me anything else by Salvatore and he handed me Sojourn, which was the final in the series of three. He didn’t have the first in the series Homeland, and I immediately ran out to Waldenbooks (before B&N and Amazon) and picked it up.
After those three books, I was a fan. I have read almost everything he as written, including the series The Dark Elf Trilogy, that I mention above, twice! I’ve only read a hand full of books twice. So that’s a big deal for me.
These 5 questions were meant to help you and me get to know John D. Pepe a little more with some fun quick questions. Here is what he had to say:
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 5-6 years old: a cowboy, police officer, or fireman. At 10 a professional soccer player. At 11 an attorney (which I did-I practiced for about 8 years). And at 18…drum roll…a famous actor!
You play D&D. Did this influence your book?
D&D was highly influential in my book. Everything that I plan to write is based around D&D adventures I have Dungeon Mastered (DM) or co-DM’d. The Lone Wolf is based on D&D characters my friends and I play and follows an adventure I DM’d.
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
I am heavily into martial arts and have been training for the last 35 years. I have had 6 amateur kickboxing and boxing matches and hold two black belts (TKD and BJJ) and will be working toward my third in Kung-Fu soon. (suck it COVID!)
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
I love to travel, so this is a hard one, but my family and I were supposed to take a cruise around the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Germany, and Estonia (suck it COVID!-we didn’t get to go). But I really want to see the world. Everywhere and anywhere.
Paperback or eBook?
Paperback-all day every day, and twice on Sunday. I like the feel of the book in my hand. I’m old school. (but eBooks are great for reading in the dark).
Awww. The End Already??
Yup, that was it! I really liked how down to earth and normal John D, Pepe is and his book seems so exciting and adventurous (no wonder he was going to call it The Adventure). If you’d like to follow him and his adventures, you can do with the links below:
Also, if you liked the sound of The Lone Wolf and all his books to come, support the author and get the book here!
Let’s Talk About It!
I loved doing this interview, and not just because it was my first one ever.I feel like I have gotten to know the author, John D. Pepe a little more than if I only read his book. What did you think of this interview? Do you feel like you got to know John D. Pepe a little more? Let me know in the comments below.
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