John A. Heldt is a reference librarian and the author of “The Mine,” “The Journey,” “The Show,” and “The Fire,” the first four novels of the Northwest Passage time-travel series. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor is a graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa. He spends his free time fishing, watching sports, being a home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not transporting contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.
Denise: As a reference librarian, you obviously love books. What are the genres or subjects that you love reading?
John: I favor historical fiction and thrillers, but will read just about anything.
Denise: How long have you been writing fiction? Did you begin with short stories?
John: I began writing fiction in 2011 when I started “The Mine.”
Denise: What inspired you to write “The Mine,” a time-travel book that sends a college student back to the days before WWII?
John: Several books and movies inspired The Mine, including Pearl Harbor, The Notebook, Racing with the Moon, Yanks, From Here to Eternity, and A Walk in the Clouds.
Denise: Why provide an abandoned Montana mine as the vehicle for his voyage?
John: I wanted a venue that was largely, but not entirely, inaccessible to the public – the kind of place that would appeal to a curious college student. I picked Montana as the setting because I am familiar with the state.
Denise: Was this his destiny or are the spiritual authorities trying to teach him a lesson?
John: I do not answer that question directly in the book, though it is clear that supernatural forces are at play in the mine.
Denise: How does he adapt without money or any understanding of how the world operates at this point of time?
John: Smith, the protagonist, is a resourceful college senior with extensive knowledge of the 1940s. He quickly finds ways to use that knowledge to his benefit.
Denise: Who does he encounter in the past?
John: Joel meets and befriends several college students and an affluent family that essentially adopts him for a summer. None of the people he meets are more important than his future grandmother and an honors student who becomes his love interest.
Denise: Does he find a place he can call home?
John: Yes. Joel lives in an Airstream trailer and later in a rental house.
Denise: Does he get the opportunity to decide if he remains or stays?
Denise: In the second book of the Northwest Passage series, “The Journey,” recently widowed Michelle Preston Richardson finds herself alone, unfulfilled and unsure of the future. What happened to change her life yet again?
John: She enters an abandoned mansion while attending her thirtieth high school reunion and is thrown back in time to 1979, the start of her senior year.
Denise: Tell us about Grace Vandenberg’s challenge in your novel, “The Show.”
John: Shortly after she begins what she believes will be a happy life with Joel in the twenty-first century, Grace unknowingly enters a time portal that sends her to 1918. When she arrives, she meets several people from her past – including her young, unmarried parents.
Denise: What do you have planned for other Northwest Passage time-travel series novels?
John: I published “Fire”, the sequel to “The Journey” and book four in the series, on August 31. “The Mirror”, the fifth and final book, will come out in March or April 2014.
You can purchase “The Mine” on Amazon.com. It’s available in kindle version and soon in audio format.