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A chat with author John Donohue

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/04/16

We recently caught up with Connecticut author John Donohue, who has worked his knowledge of the traditional Japanese martial arts into both fiction and non-fiction works. He is known for the Connor Burke series, in which an Eastern philosophy instructor is drawn into adventures and amateur sleuthing (naturally involving the martial arts). He recently came out with two new books -- the thriller Wave Man and the supernatural horror novel The Qi Eaters, which are both self-published for e-readers.
Q: What was the inspiration for Wave Man?
 
A: Wave Man was an attempt to move away from stories that are fully grounded in the martial arts world to one in which we are dealing with truly “martial” activities. While there is some tangential martial arts detail in terms of the main character training in Daito Ryu, Oso Moreno is an ex-Army trooper who has discovered an affinity for “breaking things and shooting people” but is also trying to find a way to use his skills in ways that are not as ethically troubling as his current job. When the novel opens, he is working as a leg-breaker for an organized crime boss but is developing a troubled conscience. He attempts to find a job where he’s working a little less on the dark side of things, but events catch up with him and his impulse to help some people out eventually draws him into some fairly violent action.
 
So Wave Man is a more traditional action adventure that features a troubled protagonist with a complicated personal life struggling on a number of levels with finding his place in the world.


 
Q: The Qi Eaters seems like a departure for you. Could you tell us about it?
 
A: The Qi Eaters was another experiment for me. While the Connor Burke books take a very grounded and reality-based view of the martial arts, the Qi Eaters deals with it from the opposite end of the spectrum—the realm of mystical beliefs and arcane powers. What if qi truly exists in a form that is powerful, tangible, and capable of being cultivated (and harvested)? What if the old Daoist obsession with magic and life forces had some truth to it? And what if traditional stories of “the undead” were garbled accounts of people who were harvesting qi from other human beings?
 
So I threw in a female protagonist who is very much a contemporary woman, along with a few side-kicks (a banged up judoka, a cranky cop, and a scholar of Chinese mysticism) and had them confront a situation where people are being murdered to harvest qi. It was fun to write and a departure from the Burke books for sure.

Q: I really enjoyed the Connor Burke books. Do you plan on writing anymore of those?
A: I do plan on more Burke books and am currently at work on the next in the series. It works through Burke’s experience learning to be a sensei, deals with his loss of his master, and follows him as he investigates the death of a prominent yogi/entrepreneur who had been dabbling with Kundalini yoga while juggling a series of complex financial deals to finance his empire. It’s slow going, but so far, I’m very pleased with the early chapters.

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