Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Meet J.P. Herman, author of 'Dreams Worth Dying For'

About the author:

J.P. Herman won more than 40 regional, state and national awards as a reporter before being appointed top editor of the Traverse City (MI) Record-Eagle at the age of 29. He later served as a corporate news executive in New York and in various editing roles at newspapers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and New York. He was elected to the board of directors of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and served several times as a Pulitzer Prize juror at Columbia University in New York City. An honors graduate of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, J.P., his wife and family live in upstate New York. They spend summers in a small Michigan town on the shores of Lake Huron. J.P. is a prolific songwriter, having penned melodies and lyrics to more than 200 songs.

What was the inspiration for DREAMS WORTH DYING FOR?
I spent too much of my time as a journalist in the role of editor, or manager. Looking back, I wish I had spent my whole career as a reporter/writer. I think I would have enjoyed that more. Now that I'm retired, I am experimenting with various writing forms. It's all-consuming and I love it. Fiction is as far as you can get from the "facts-only" journalism I practiced for more than three decades.
Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?
Dr. Susan Jacoby. Her uncompromising demands and lofty standards made love the precious commodity it deserves to be.
What is one of your favorite scenes?
Andy Pettigrew's first encounter with Rueben Ortega at dawn in the Florida Keys. This was the first time Andy realized he was beginning the transformation he'd dreamed of for so many years.

Andy and Susan dancing gleefully into the unknown.
Will we ever see these characters again?
It might be interesting to find out where they go and what they do.
On what other projects are you currently working?
I continue to write songs during book-writing breaks. Picking the guitar and singing my own words is soothing. It helps me put things in perspective. For me, a productive day is writing something worth keeping. That can be anything from a sentence to a chapter to a song.
Do you ever miss the newspaper business?
I desperately miss what the newspaper business used to be. TV jabber and online's lack of standards tend to confuse than enlighten viewers/readers. I worry about how this lack of what we used to call watchdog journalism might undermine our democracy. Access to balanced information seems necessary for people to govern themselves in a responsible manner.
Would we know any of your songs?
Like Andy, I write songs for my own satisfaction. Andy explains why in the book.
You have been a juror for the highly coveted Pulitzer Prize. What does that entail?
Being a Pulitzer Prize judge was one of the high points of my career. I was given time to read some of the best stories of the day, written by people who are now legendary. I savor those memories. It was all about excellence in reporting and writing and the discussions were spirited and illuminating.
You live in Upstate NY and vacation in Northern Michigan. What are some of your must-see destinations in these areas?
Wherever I go, I hook up on dates with Mother Nature. I'd rather sit in a remote woods and listen to the chatter of the birds and critters than board a cruise ship en route to the Bahamas. I'm happy to say that natural wonders abound near both of my homes.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My goal was to raise questions rather than try to impose my beliefs on others. I like to encourage people to consider a wide range of possibilities before drawing a conclusion.
Thank you so much for your time!

Find out more about DREAMS WORTH DYING FOR

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