Author John Wilsterman was born in Tallmadge, Ohio. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Kent State University.
Pursuing a career and raising a family effectively put his writing career on hold for a while. After many years and a successful career with IBM, he turned his hand to novel writing. Reading has always been a passion of his and he knew someday he would put all his knowledge, anecdotes, locations, and wonderful characters he has met into a novel.
Mr. Wilsterman made a spectacular debut with Beneath Juliette, a novel set in the South, with all those strange and wonderful characters, places, and stories he’s encountered.
Mr. Wilsterman moved from the big city of Atlanta with wife, Jean, to the Georgia Coast. He has two grown children, Kira, and Luke, and is now working on a new novel.
Hobbies – writing and storytelling, anecdote collecting, language origins. John enjoys Robert Heinlein, Michael Connolly, Larry McMurtry, Lee Child, Lawrence Block, Stephen King, and many authors.
John is an Advanced Toastmaster and a graduate of Jeff Justice Comedy School.
John loves all kinds of music and now plays bass in a rock band, Slackwater… Move over Stephen King!
John and Jean enjoy traveling and have visited many wonderful places in the world, especially their beautiful home on the Sapelo River, a place they call, “At Last!”
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where did you come up with the idea for Beneath Juliette?
Back in the seventies I used to go archery hunting at a state managed wildlife refuge, called Rum Creek W.M.A. Back then archery hunting was not as popular as it is today, so I pretty much had the place to myself. Just outside of Juliette, Georgia, it was a wonderful piece of rural countryside, a location just looking for someone to tell a good story about it. By the time I decided to write the novel, I had collected many stories, some of which were told to me and some I witnessed myself. I used to tell my children all kind of stories and Beneath Juliette starts off as a sort of ghost story. All these pieces and parts came together in a pretty good tale, but I needed some characters. Most of the folks I’ve met lead strange enough lives to be in a novel, but I didn’t want to make Juliette’s characters mimic real people. That can be hazardous to an author, especially with villains!
So, your characters aren’t modeled after people you know?
Some, but not entirely. Juliette’s characters feel like real people but once you start telling stories about them, they seem to go their own, unique way. Realistic characters begin doing crazy things and a writer must let them have their own way.
The villain is especially vicious. Did you ever know anyone like that?
Never. I think a lot of us have a level of meanness in us, particularly when we’re driving. What I did with TV Swanson was amplify that to the monster level. Yet I found him a fascinating person, full of strange notions, anger, violence, self-loathing, and a bizarre fear of other people, especially his own 10-year-old son.
What about your hero?
Which one? Brendan Macbean is similar to a broadcaster we used to have in the Atlanta area named Leroy Powell, who died of brain cancer in 1999. Leroy Powell was the antithesis to a typical television personality. He focused on unusual personal interest stories. I wanted a different type of hero. Somebody who wasn’t a superman but solved problems with his wits, someone who suffered from a repressed OCD enough to become obsessed with finding the other hero, the long lost Frank Robillard, a tragic guy brilliant, strong, courageous but weak when it came to himself.
Macbean seems very realistic and loveable. Since you are not in broadcasting, how did you make him believable?
I was very fortunate. I went down to the WXIA studios in Atlanta and spent an afternoon with Ted Hall and Brenda Wood, anchors for the evening news, who were very gracious with their time. From them, I was able to get insight into how a broadcaster’s mind works, what some of the problems they go through, and how stories on the news are put together. Ted Hall was particularly helpful in answering my endless questions and to him, I give a great deal of credit for the success of the character.
Many of your most gripping scenes take place inside of prison. How did you learn so much about incarceration?
I had one relative who ran afoul of the law pretty much his whole life and spent time in prison. At times he was very likable, but he gave me insights into how criminals think. But his experiences were insufficient to provide enough detail to make those scenes believable. The rest came from research, but I figured if Stephen King could do it, I could do it. Prison does things to a man and that’s what I wanted to explore. Also, I wanted to show the effects criminals have on their families, which is something I witnessed firsthand.