Interview with John Righten, Author of Heartbreak
31 Dec 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, Heartbreak?
Heartbreak is set in the 1990s and tells the story of Lenka Brett, a smart but unworldly, young, Irish teacher, who volunteers to deliver medical aid when she learns of the horrifying plight of children in Romanian orphanages. An English naval officer, Captain Simon Trevelyan, volunteers to be her co-driver. Together, they join a convoy of humanitarian aid drivers known as the Rogues, the last hope for those in areas where official charities cannot enter. Lenka falls in love with one of the drivers, but when the Rogues become the target of mercenaries, tragedy follows, and she discovers her lover is not who he appeared to be.
Heartbreak is a fast-paced thriller, but delves into subjects that are relevant today, such as the role of the individual in a world of superpower politics, and the plight of refugees caught in wars not of their making.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
Sadly, I lost several friends that I worked with during my days delivering medical aid across the globe, and this inspired me to tell their stories in my first novel, my autobiography, The Benevolence of Rogues.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
The Crow Road by Iain Banks
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Howard Jacobson. I would ask him why comedy is so important when he writes about love and loss.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
When I’m finally happy with the first line of a novel, and can invite readers to join me on the path to a new world that until then was only in my imagination.
What is a typical day like for you?
7 to 8.30am, the chaos of a family breakfast. 8.30am to 6pm the intrigues that come with the day job. 6 to 7pm, family dinner together. 7.30 to 8.30pm (sometimes 10pm) reading bedtime stories to my son. 10pm to whenever, time with my wife. Getting up between 2 and 4 am to write.
What scene in Heartbreak was your favorite to write?
The opening paragraph, where a radar operator on a battleship monitoring a caravan of fleeing refugees, spots a lone truck going in the opposite direction into the war-zone. The challenge was to build the tension from the first sentence, without giving away the identity, or even the gender of the driver.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Fight for what you believe.
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