Q. Are these really frequently asked questions?
A. Well, not yet.
Q. Are your novels suitable for young children?
A. It’s purely arbitrary, but I think the message of The Fraternity might be lost on people under 14—and that isn’t meant to disparage the intellect of 14-year-olds. There are a handful of sexual references and one semi-descriptive sex scene, but certainly nothing that would cause anyone to faint. (Unlike the childbirth film I watched in sophomore health class—holy cow, how about some warning next time?) The language in The Fraternity is far cleaner than what you’d hear in an actual frat house, but that’s just because I didn’t want it to be a distraction. Trombone Answers, The Rocheville Devil, and Love and Corn and Whatnot all have more adult language and sexual references, but again, I’d say mature teenagers would enjoy them. I’m writing with adults in mind, but not in the gratuitous sense.
Q. Are you your main characters?
A. Well, Doug Halloran and Parker Graham are both kids who have locked themselves into “a parent-pleasing groove” (as Parker puts it), and they’re both a little bit scared of the world. I remember relating to that. They’re also both decent young men trying to figure out their place in the world, and heck, 30-some years after college I’m still chipping away at that. But sure, while they’re not memoirs, these stories come from a perspective I identify strongly with, and that’s what makes them so real. Now, if you're asking about The Rocheville Devil, Tom Skolka and I were both sixth-graders in an elementary school's final year, but thankfully the similarity ends there.
Q. What’s up next?
A. I intended to get The Smalltown Way out in spring of 2023, but there's a section I need to go back and rework. Still in development: a satirical novel set in prehistoric times, a noir parody, and probably a sequel to The Smalltown Way. I'm also busy with my Substack newsletter, From the Desk of John M Donovan (johnmdonovan.substack.com), and would be honored to have you subscribe. And by you I mean you, you reader you.
Q. Have we seen the last of Parker Graham? The cliffhanger at the end of Love and Corn and Whatnot would seem to indicate we haven't.
A. I'm not even sure how to resolve that cliffhanger. Parker is most interesting as a person who's always this close to finding love, but Angie Allen would be hard to say no to. I can't answer that question right now, but if you want a Parker Graham fix he's the main character in two of the Snappy Cola stories (and has a cameo in a third) and he's mentioned by name in The Smalltown Way.
Q. Do you ever imagine what actors would play your characters in the unlikely event someone wanted to make a movie based on your work?
A. I do. Unfortunately I've already missed out on two of them. I always thought Robin Williams would have made a great Tom Skolka in The Rocheville Devil, and Beau Bopko from Fluffball! was written with Bruno Kirby in mind. Speaking of Fluffball!, how great would it be to see Tim Robbins and Jeff Goldblum as Don Gooding and Lum Billingsley?
Q. Is independent publishing for everyone?
A. Well, it's probably unnecessary for writers who know they're going to sell a million books every time out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the easy availability of independent publishing has probably emboldened a lot of people who are more desperate to be authors than writers. There's a fine line. Are my novels potential best-sellers that would have earned big bucks for publishing-company shareholders? Probably not. Are they worth reading? Certainly.