An Interview with Harry (Brian L) Porter, and his alter ego, Juan Pablo Jalisco!
Firstly, I would like to thank you for allowing me to interview you. I appreciate your time and friendship! It has been a while since I have done an interview, but when I decided I’d like to do another, you were at the top of my list!
1) As an author, I know that you use several pen names in your writing career.
o Who all do you write under and why?
o How did you decide which names to use for your writing?
o Both Brian L Porter and Harry Porter are family names, so they came easily. Juan Pablo Jalisco was born of a time I spent in Mexico, and most of my time was spent in the state of Jalisco, and I added the Juan Pablo because it just seemed to go well with the surname.
o Was it a conscious choice to use various pen names or how did that come about?
o When I first started novel writing, I used the name Brian L Porter, and there was no need to use any other name until I began writing children’s books too.
o It was my publisher at that time who suggested it might be a good idea to use a different name for my books for younger readers, to differentiate between my rather more adult content of the novels and the content designed specifically for children and so I used another family name, that of Harry Porter, a name by which I’m known by a lot of people anyway.
o Of course, that leaves Juan Pablo, and there’s a bit of a story behind that name. Would you like to hear it?
o Yes please, do tell us about it.
o Okay Julie, well, you see, I was going through a very bad time in my life some years ago and in order to ‘save my sanity’, as I saw it at the time, I kind of ‘ran away’ to Mexico. While I was there, I met a wonderful old man, whose name, believe it or not, was Jésus. We’d sit together in the shade of a large fountain looking the sea at Puerto Vallarta for a couple of hours each day and gradually, he taught me all about the history of his country and his people and culture, of which he was so proud.
o I never found out how old he was, but he did tell me he had eight children, nearly forty grandchildren and a ‘large number’ of great grandchildren. He seemed to know everything there was to know about the history of his country and I found myself becoming ‘infected’ with his enthusiasm for the wonderful patina of history that he laid before me. I visited many of the historical sites he mentioned and really did fall in love with the place, so when I eventually decided to write my book of romantic poetry, Of Aztecs and Conquistadors, all based on my time in Mexico, I thought it would be a nice idea to use a name that actually felt ‘at home’ with the nature of the work. It must have worked, because Of Aztecs and Conquistadors has been a great success, being an Amazon bestseller in both the USA and the UK.
o Many of the poems in the book refer to a long standing love affair between the writer and his true love, Maria Conchita Alonso. Let me tell you now, there is a lot of truth contained in those particular poems, though the name has been changed for obvious reasons. Many more of the poems in the book refer to various places in Mexico and incidents in the country’s history, based on what I learned from my very good friend, Jésus.
o As I have Portugese and Spanish ancestry on my Mother’s side, perhaps that explains how I find it very easy to slip into the Latin style of thinking and writing, and as Juan Pablo, I was fortunate to be voted the Preditors & Editors Poet of the Year in 2008. So, I hope that explains everything!
o Who do you want your readers to know you as and why?
o I’m happy with either Harry or Brian. I suppose if we’re talking about my thrillers, Brian is fitting, but for anything else, I’m Harry!
2) You have had a successful writing year in 2014. You have had multiple best-sellers as an author.
o How many books did you publish all together in 2014?
o Well. Let’s see. Creativia Publishing worked very hard in releasing a number of 2nd editions of my books in cases where they were out of contract with my previous publishers.
o As Brian L Porter, they released the thrillers, Purple Death, Behind Closed Doors, Glastonbury, The Nemesis Cell, Kiss of Life, and the short story collection, After Armageddon, as well as my book of remembrance poetry, Lest We Forget, and most recently, Avenue of the Dead.
o Under the Harry Porter name came my bestselling Alistair the Alligator, illustrated by the talented Sharon Lewis, and of course there was the bestseller, Of Aztecs and Conquistadors from Juan Pablo Jalisco.
o Which books have reached Amazon’s #1 best-selling lists?
o Both Of Aztecs and Conquistadors and Alistair the Alligator were #1 Bestsellers at Amazon, with ‘Aztecs’ performing the feat on both sides of the Atlantic, not once, but twice, and additionally topped the bestseller list in its category in Canada in January 2015.
o It’s much harder, of course, to achieve a bestseller in the thriller category, which is the largest and most competitive of all at Amazon, so I’m very proud to say that all my thrillers made it into the Top Ten in their category at various times in the year. Purple Death and Behind Closed Doors came closest to the #1 spot, both reaching #3 in the crime thriller category.
o Writing is a very personal art. Though you connect with all of your pieces, putting a little bit of your soul in everything you touch, was there any particular title that meant something more to you? Was there one title that you were most proud to have hit the best-seller’s list?
o Seeing both Alistair the Alligator and Of Aztecs and Conquistadors reach the coveted #1 ranking obviously made me immensely proud, but perhaps the greatest satisfaction came from the Top Ten performance of Behind Closed Doors.
o This is a Victorian murder mystery set at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. It features the investigative talents of Inspector Albert Norris and for the first time, I based a leading character purely and simply on my own personality, so Norris is in fact a very real reflection of me, with a little bit of myself also thrown into his assistant, Sergeant Dylan Hillman so that between them, I hope they present a perfect foil for each other and a very strong and believable pair of characters.
o I thoroughly enjoyed writing Behind ClosedDoors, and as a dedicated dog rescuer, I also donate $1 from each paperback copy sold to my local dog rescue sanctuary.
3) You are also a screen-writer for ThunderBall Films. Can you tell us a little bit about that part of your career?
o What name do you work under as a screen-writer and why?
o I use the Brian L Porter name as most of ThunderBall’s scripts are based on thriller or horror stories and Brian is the name under which I’m known in that particular genre.
o I heard you received a promotion – congratulations! Can you tell us about your advancement?
o When I first began writing screenplays for ThunderBall, I was very pleased to be appointed as Associate Producer on a number of the films they are working on. As time passed, I seemed to find myself becoming more and more involved in other areas of the business, particularly on the casting and production areas.
o Together, Mario Domina, CEO of ThunderBall and myself co-created a new TV doc-drama series, Jack the Ripper, Reality, Reality and Myth, currently in development, with a screenplay written solely by me.
o Before long, Mario informed me that, not only was he appointing me as ThunderBall’s in-house screenwriter, but I would henceforth, be appointed as Co-Producer on all the projects I worked on for ThunderBall.
o What can we expect to see from your screen writing career in 2015?
o Well, the movie version of A Study in Red – The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper is well into development with casting almost complete, and more recently, myself and Mario Domina, CEO of ThunderBall Films co-created, a new Drama-documentary TV series, Jack The Ripper, Reality and Myth, which will present the whole Jack the Ripper case in a new format, examining the case from every angle and giving the viewers the chance to decide for themselves which parts of the Ripper folklore are real and which are the myths that have grown up around the murders over the years. The screenplay is by me, and Mario is the Executive Producer, with myself as Co-Producer.
o In addition, together with author Tony Lewis, we are working on a hilarious series of films based on his wonderful Skullenia series of comedy-horror novels.
o How does your writing differ from author to screen-writer?
o They are both very different disciplines.
o When writing a book, the suitor has the freedom to ‘make it up as he goes along’; to change the story as he writes; to amend and if needs be, rewrite his original ideas.
o Screenwriting however, is far more disciplined in that, usually, you are working with someone else’s book, adapting it into a screenplay, and while the process of adaptation allows certain latitude for the screenwriter, it has to be remembered that an author will want to see the finished product mirroring his work as much as possible. We always try to stick closely to an author’s original storyline because, as I’m sure you know, so many films have been produced over the years which bear virtually no resemblance to the original book, and which, for the most part, prove to be hugely disappointing as a result.
o Do you prefer one over the other?
o Not really, Julie. Each is so different that they both present different challenges, but both are great fun to work on, and it is also possible to work on both simultaneously without confusing the two.
4) You are a loving person, I know since I am blessed to be counted among your friends! Being your friend, I know that you are not only a dog lover, but you are actually very actively involved with rescuing dogs. Can you tell us more about that passion of yours?
o Thank you for the lovely compliment, Julie. Now we’re moving into a realm I could probably talk about all day, but I’d better not, as I’d hate to bore your readers to death!
o Are there any organizations that you are involved in or help to support?
o How did you get involved with them and how do you help?
o Overthe years, my wife and I have been involved in rescuing many dogs and currently, we share our home and our lives with ten beautiful rescues. Perhaps the best known of my dogs is Sasha, who has her very own page on Facebook, which was setup by a friend of mine; author Edward Cook, who is also a great animal lover.
o Sasha was rescued from the gutter by a dog warden when only about six weeks old, on a freezing January morning. We got her a week later and shortly afterwards; she broke her leg while playing with another of our dogs. After three months recovering in a crate, with her leg pinned and screwed, she got the all-clear, only to break it again two weeks late when she tried and failed to jump over a baby gate. Another long operation took place, with her joint being re-pinned and a metal plate inserted, and more screws put in place, plus another three months in a crate, recovering slowly.
o She was so brave and uncomplaining, despite the intense pain she must have been going through. I spent most of that time sat next to her crate, taking her outside now and then to go to the toilet, etc. and never once did she foul her bedding or do anything in that crate. She later went on to develop a horrible skin allergy and is on medication for that. More seriously, poor Sasha developed serious epilepsy almost two years ago.
o She regularly has the most awful seizures, often in clusters of two or three, one after the other. It has taken the vet a long time to find a regime of medications that do at least help to prevent the seizures taking place too often, but it is not an exact science, so it is an ongoing task to try to keep her stable.
o We totally love all our rescued dogs, but I have to admit that Sasha is a little bit special, her tail always wagging and her happiness shining through despite her disabilities. Her best friend among our dogs is Sheba, who was a seriously abused dog when younger.
o She was used as a ‘bait dog’ in the training of fighting dogs, and when she was too weak and of no use to her owners, she was thrown on a rubbish tip and left to die. She was nothing more than a barely living skeleton, with no fur and with deep ligature marks round her neck, red sores all over her body and she’d been so starved, she’d resorted to twisting round and trying to eat her own tail, which was nothing more than a bloody mess when we first got her.
o She wasn’t expected to live long, and was given to us in the hope we’d give her some love and comfort in her last weeks of life. We wouldn’t give up on her though, and with love, care and patience and lots of help from our vet, Sheba, who we named after the fabled queen, because we thought she deserved a regal name, slowly recovered and eight years later, is still with us, a happy and healthy dog who loves everyone, but is very scared of other dogs, apart from our own, who she’s learned to accept as part of her own family.
o She is also very scared of loud noises and trembles and quivers like a jelly if she hears fireworks or I fact any loud banging noise. Because her skin was in such a state when we got her, rain water would sting her skin and to this day, she hates walking in the rain, even with her nice warm coat on.
o A wonderful thing about both Sasha and Sheba is that they are extremely empathetic towards my own disabilities and always seem to know when I’m unwell and both manage to make such a fuss of me, especially Sasha, who literally never leaves my side, and as I take care of her, so she, in her own way, does her best to take care of me, too..
o Of our other dogs, all have a story to tell, including Dexter, who was thrown from a moving car on a motorway, Muttley, abandoned as one of a litter of puppies outside the gates of a dog sanctuary, Dylan, who was beaten and whipped within a inch of his life before being left tied to a post not far from a sanctuary, and little Penny, who was left behind as a puppy near a railway line when a community of travelers moved away from the site, and was lucky not to be squashed by a passing train.
o How can your readers help the cause?
o When my Victorian murder/mystery,Behind Closed Doors was released, I decided to donate $1 from each paperback copy sold to my local dog sanctuary, The Mayflower Sanctuary, as a small way of trying to help in the wonderful work they do.
Readers can help indirectly by purchasing the paperback version of Brian L. Porter’s book, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, or they can donate directly to the animal sanctuary of their choice!
5) Can you tell us what you are currently working on now?
o First of all, I recently sent the final manuscript of a new book, Wolf, to Creativia Publishing. They are currently working on the illustrations for the book which will be released soon, designed as a book for teens and young adults, but eminently suitable for adults of all ages.
o The book tells the fictional story of Warren and Emma, who are faced with the possibility that a wolf may be stealing chickens from their home in the wilderness. As Warren begins a trek through a heavy snowfall, rifle in hand in search of the killer; little does he know, his mission to find a killer is about to change his life.
o The book also contains a section dedicated to the story of the wolf, it’s relationship to our domesticated pets, and the story of its struggle to survive as an endangered species, with many species of wolf already and all too sadly, extinct.
WOLF is now available for purchase!
Click on the picture to be redirected to Amazon
o At present, I’ve just begun a new novel, for which I’ve delved back to my family roots in the great port of Liverpool.
o Without giving too much away, A Mersey Killing, (like the play on words?), tells of the discovery of a skeleton during the restoration of an old disused warehouse and wharf beside the River Mersey during the 1990s. At first the police are unable to identify the remains, but slowly, with the help of modern forensics and a little luck in finding one small vital clue, they uncover a case that reaches over thirty years into the past, with connections to the famous Cavern Club in the city of Liverpool, where acts such as The Beatles once played, and where singer Cilla Black was discovered. As they begin to piece the case together, not only do they find themselves investigating an old and previously unknown murder, but when the past reaches out to intrude upon the present, the police begin a race against time to prevent further deaths.
o Will we see more partnerships with you and your illustrator, Sharon Lewis under your children’s pen name, Harry Porter?
o You certainly will. I recently completed the text of a new children’s book, Percy the Pigeon and the wonderfully talented Sharon Lewis is currently working on the illustrations for the book, which should be released by Creativia Publishing this year.
I want to conclude by saying I think you are a wonderfully talented man, but more so, you are a truly admirable human being! I not only love your work, but I love your dedication to making the world a better place for all that inhabit it! Peace and Blessings, my friend!
And the same to you, Julie. Thank you so much for taking the time to highlight my work and my life. I look forward to talking with you again soon.