Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Welcome to my guest John Knoerle. The book looks fabulous and I now have a copy that I'll review for you later, I promise! In the meantime, enjoy this great author and a book that I know will be great!! Great to have you with us today, John, and thank you for being my guest.


John Knoerle’s first novel, “Crystal Meth Cowboys,” was optioned by Fox for a TV series. His second novel, “The Violin Player,” won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction. His new novel, “A Pure Double Cross,” is Book One of the American Spy Trilogy. John lives with his wife in Chicago. You can learn more about John Knoerle at http://www.bluesteelpress.com/.


Cleveland, Ohio, 1945. Hal Schroeder returns from a two-year stint behind German lines as an undercover agent for the OSS. The horrors of war have left him bitter and cynical. He is recruited by the FBI to infiltrate a local mob that is pulling bank heists. The feds have concocted a sting operation to capture the head of the gang and they want Hal to execute it. He agrees. But Hal Schroeder is no longer interested in being a hero. Hal Schroeder is interested in a fat payday.

How to Write Good

I stole that title from an early ‘70s article in the “National Lampoon” by Michael O’Donahue, the long-dead founding member. The article was a satirical primer on cheap tricks that writers can fall back on when they haven’t done their homework. Need to inject some tension into a flabby story? Have the protagonist be threatened by “roving bands of surly youths.”

I wrote screenplays for a low-budget film company in Burbank years later. And, sure enough, whenever the action sagged the director would have the hero walk around a corner and find a young ingénue or a little old lady being assaulted by “surly youths,” of whom the hero would make short work. It didn’t have anything to do with the storyline but it kept the audience in their seats a little while longer.

My favorite bit of acerbic advice from Mr. O’Donahue, however, was what to do if you have written your central character into a corner from which there is no logical escape. All you need do is trot out the trusty phrase, “Suddenly, he was run over by a truck.” Works every time!

He was referring of course to the cheesy gambit known by its Latin name “Deus ex Machina,” or machine of the gods. This is where fate descends decisively from above because the writer is too lazy or witless to craft a way for the central character to solve his or her dilemma individually.

This technique was especially popular in old b&w Westerns where the cavalry would ride to the rescue with bugle blaring just as the settlers were about to lose their hair. Other examples abound in film and literature and I’m sure I’ll remember many of them, given time.

But, suddenly, I am run over by a truck.

-- John Knoerle


  1. Oh yes, need to learn to Dodge those trucks. Sounds like an interesting book, John. Will Hal still be a hero in the end though?

  2. yah those trucks can be a dousy lol! Sounds interesting though am not a fantasy fan, but if I could live through that really horrible Wesley Snipes movie murder at 1600 I could go for a good book! And Elizabeth, don't ask the ending *pouts* I wanna get thrilled throughout the book then find out lol

  3. Wow - thrilling and exciting!

    And one of your books was made into a fox-series!

    Impressive all way round.


  4. How funny, I recently had an agent (rejection) tell me an element in my story was a bit “Deus ex Machina,” and I didn't exactly know what she meant.

    In all fairness I guess it sort of was, but hey, life throws you curve balls. Swing away, Merrill.


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