John Calia – A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate. Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business. He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 120,000 readers. It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.” Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Writing is my fourth (or maybe fifth) career. I have been a U.S. Navy officer, a banker, an entrepreneur and business consultant. I began writing a blog in 2010 at the encouragement of a good friend and found a following (over 120,000 readers). My brother encouraged me to write a book, but I resisted. Coincidentally, a development rep from a small indie publisher reached out to me right after my brother died (from Lyme Disease). “I’ve reading your blog,” he said. “If you ever decide to write a book, let me know. We’d love to publish it.” It took another year for me to complete The Reluctant CEO: Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul. I sent him a final draft. “It may take me a while to get back to you on this,” he said. Two days later he sent me a contract. The book was released the following year in May 2016.
The book was a success in the narrow audience I chose. It received 5-star ratings on Amazon. And that made me want to write another book. But I wanted a broader audience. I wrote a near-future, science-fiction novel “The Awakening of Artemis” which will be published on September 29, 2021 for two reasons: (1) science-fiction has a huge audience; and, (2) I wanted to write about the effect of artificial intelligence on society.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Not a damn thing! Well, I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. That’s not quirky or unique. But it’s uncommon for sure.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Brooklyn – the old Brooklyn made up of ethnic neighborhoods. My father used his WWII veteran benefits to buy us a house in the Long Island suburbs, where I lived until I graduated high school. I’ve only been back for occasional visits since and have lived in nine U.S. states.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Frankly, what I find most relaxing is writing. Other than that, I spend time on the water in the lakes and harbors of western New York state.
What inspired you to write this book?
The birth of my granddaughter, Emily Grace Martinez-Calia. She is the first female in my bloodline in 90 years. I wonder what life will be like for her 30 years in the future. What kind of world will she live in? How will she deal with mid-21st Century reality?
What can we expect from you in the future?
Book 2 in this series will likely be titled “False Flag.” It will bring in some of the recently revealed pseudo-facts from the U.S. government’s release of information about UFO’s and alien visits to Earth.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
The main character is Diana Gutierrez-Adams. She grows up in a military family and elects to join the first class to graduate from the US Space Force Academy in 2040. She is grounded in traditional values and is raised by her father to be a strong independent woman. She cares about the cause of women in society and is encouraged by the ascension of women into leadership roles. She is goal oriented and focused but can undermine herself when she perceives injustice, particularly when it is directed at one of her friends and co-workers.
The formative experience of Diana’s adult life came during a war. From her underground bunker in Nevada she identified targets and launch stealth missiles toward their targets. During her shift at the controls, her base was struck by an enemy missile. She assumed control of the automated fire control system and destroyed the enemy.
Emerging from her bunker, she realized how lucky she was to have survived. Engulfed in smoke and still smoldering, the base was barely recognizable. She stumbled toward HQ, the operations center, tripping several times, once over a dead body, another over a disembodied leg. The ground was hot! She burned her left hand when she broke her fall. Disoriented, weak and in pain, it took a few minutes (seemed like hours) to realize that HQ was gone – completely vaporized. In its place were smoldering ashes. No human remains were evident. Commanding the operations center that directed all the launch stations was Base Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Paul Adams – her father.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The characters mirror the characters in The Wizard of Oz.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Main character: Diana: the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, protector of women and children, fierce warrior and loyal to a fault. (Dorothy is her alter ego in The Wizard of Oz.)
Her sidekick and soul mate: Gabrielle, chosen from the sidekick in the TV series “Xena, Warrior Princess. (Represents Diana’s heart.)
Nick Adams: An often-used name in the books written by Hemingway. Plus my Dad was named Nick. He’s a Nobel-winning mathematician in the book. (the brain.)
Tony Russo: I just like the name. (Courage personified.)
How did you come up with the title of the book?
Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek Mythology. Diana (main character’s name) is the Roman equivalent. The “Awakening” takes place because of the heroic journey that Diana undertakes on behalf of her grandfather (Nick Adams).
Who designed your book covers?
I hired a great graphics guy in the U.K. through reedsy.com. His name is Nick Castle.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Kristen Stewart or Zoe Kravitz.
What did you edit out of this book?
I started my writing career as a blogger. My editor pushed me to delete sections that sounded like an essay and slowed the story. I’ve used those sections in my author website johncalia.com/blog.
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
There are so many great writers. But the greatest storyteller might be J.K. Rowling. I would love to be able to pick her brain as I write my next book.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
MUSIC!!! I have to have music playing to write.
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