Announcing our 2021 Award Winners and Top 20 Books of the Year

John Hart Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

John Hart
Photo: Eddie Bauer

John Hart

An interview with John Hart

In a letter to his readers, John Hart talks about becoming a writer and the challenges he faced in writing The Last Child.

Dear Reader,

I never thought that I would be fortunate enough to make a living as a writer. I dreamed of it, fantasized about it, but even as I walked away from a law practice to write my first novel, the decision was based on an undeniable need to at least try. To aspire. That kind of need is very different from the conviction that it would actually work. I often think of it as a kind of desperation - one that is probably known by a lot of working writers – an urge to do something different, to make something from nothing: a compelling story, unforgettable characters, a message, maybe. I knew the odds of getting published were small and that the odds of becoming a bestseller were even smaller, but I never much cared for being an attorney. I guess it had something to do with all of those guilty clients.

My wife never doubted. When I told her that I wanted to quit my job to pursue the only dream I’ve ever had, she said, “Of course you should quit.” We had a newborn at the time and serious plans for another. She was not working. “It’ll work out,” she said, and I love her for that. That total trust.

I walked away from the law and never looked back. We lived lean while I wrote: no dinners out, no travel. We did not have to sell our house, but it was an interesting time. Three books have now been published (The King of Lies, Down River and The Last Child) and all three have been bestsellers. I’m blessed to be published in more than two dozen languages and in over thirty countries, a fact that still seems unreal. When Down River won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, I actually started to believe that I would not have to beg for my old job back. Then The Last Child won England’s Steel Dagger for best thriller of the year, and I finally relaxed (for about three days…).

I’ve met so many wonderful, committed people along the way. Publishers, editors, booksellers. They shared an excitement about what I was doing, invested their energies and faith … None of this could have worked without them.

With my new novel, The Last Child, I took even more chances. My earlier works were told from the first person perspective of an adult white male, which is a skin that I am well-suited to wear. And while both books worked, I feared that a third done in the same manner might feel similar. Not only is The Last Child told from multiple perspectives, but the voices truly challenged me: a thirteen-year-old boy traumatized after the disappearance of his twin sister yet still innocent enough to believe in magic, the boy’s grief-stricken, drug-addicted mother, a three-hundred-pound escaped convict with the mind of an innocent and the voice of God in his head … I had to stretch for these. But I wanted to tell the story of a child whose world is shattered so badly that no one can make it right: not his parents, or the cops, not the church or the community. How does the boy cope? Where does he find strength and down what dangerous path will that strength take him?

Making a thriller work with a child as the main character is not an easy task. The risks have to be credible, the action not only compelling but very, very real. And the kid … man, the kid has to be real, too: his perspective, beliefs and actions, everything that he sees and thinks. That challenge so daunted me that when I first began the book I told my editor that in a year’s time he would either love me or hate me. Thankfully, the book works. It’s my favorite yet, and I couldn’t be happier.

Enjoy,

John Hart

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by John Hart at BookBrowse
Redemption Road jacket Iron House jacket The Last Child jacket Down River jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for John Hart but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Sebastian Barry

    Sebastian Barry

    Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Academically, he has held posts as an Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa (1984) and Writer Fellow at Trinity College, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Redemption Road

    Try:
    Days Without End
    by Sebastian Barry

  • Lou Berney

    Lou Berney

    Lou Berney is the author of November Road, The Long and Faraway Gone (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity, and ALA awards), Whiplash River, and Gutshot Straight. He's also written a collection of stories, The ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Redemption Road

    Try:
    November Road
    by Lou Berney

We recommend 17 similar authors

View all 17 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: The Lincoln Highway
    The Lincoln Highway
    by Amor Towles
    Voted 2021 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Things look bleak for Emmett ...
  • Book Jacket: The Code Breaker
    The Code Breaker
    by Walter Isaacson
    Voted 2021 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What makes humans human? It's ...
  • Book Jacket: Firekeeper's Daughter
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Million Things
    by Emily Spurr
    Voted 2021 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Our First Impressions reviewers were...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beasts of a Little Land
    by Juhea Kim

    An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement.

Win This Book!
Win Taste Makers

Taste Makers
by Mayukh Sen

America's modern culinary history told through the lives of seven pathbreaking chefs and food writers.

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.