Blog Tour: Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Adventures in Nowhere by John Ames

Welcome to Author John Ames!


John Ames has a master’s degree in English from the University of Florida, where he was a Ford Fellow. After graduation, he built a rustic house and lived for several years on the edge of a spiritual community located near Gainesville, Florida. John’s search for enlightenment ended when he decided that he was too far from a movie theater. He moved inside the Gainesville city limits and taught English and film for thirty years at Santa Fe College.

He has produced and acted in numerous short films and videos, including the cable TV series the “Tub Interviews,” wherein all the interviewees were required to be in a bathtub. For ten years he reviewed movies for PBS radio station WUFT. He has appeared as a standup comedian and has designed and marketed Florida-themed lamps. He coauthored Second Serve: The Renée Richards Story (Stein and Day, 1983) and its sequel No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and Speaking of Florida (University Presses of Florida, 1993).


If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
The Man Who Would Not Commit
I have a fear of being categorized or bound by the actions of someone else. For example, when I registered to vote, I was stymied by the choice of Democrat or Republican. The only one that looked good to me was Independent. The registration official pointed out that I would not be allowed to vote in the primaries if I didn’t sign up for one of the parties. I saw her logic, but I went Independent anyway. I don’t like to be pinned down, but when I do commit, even to something as minor as a dinner date, I take it very seriously.

If you could travel in a time machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Probably the past because I like to be in control, and who knows what the future will bring? I have the romantic idea that it would be great to live in the United States from 1945 to 1950. Everybody was relieved that World War Two was over and people were ready for a good time, but I know in my heart of hearts that the period had more than its share of problems. At least it was a fashionable era.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Great strength. I’ve always been maybe a little stronger than the average man, but whenever I am in the presence of someone really strong, I realize how deficient and vulnerable I am. In college I sat next to one of the Gator football players. He was huge, not porky, just big. His forearms were tremendous. Just being around him gave me the creeps.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
I eat the same thing for breakfast every weekday. The night before, I fill a container with a combination of old-fashioned oats, banana slices, raisins and nonfat milk. I put this mix in the refrigerator and by morning, the oats have reached a nice consistency and the fruit has sweetened the concoction. I put olive-oil-based spread on a piece of homemade bread from the freezer and stick it into the toaster oven for five minutes. When that is done, I sit down with a cup of coffee and eat it all with deep enjoyment.

Night owl or early bird?
I prefer mornings. I go to bed early, around nine o’clock. I find it depressing to be up late, especially in the wee hours of the morning. I know people who come alive after 11 PM, but I have no feel for it. I am at my best after my morning coffee. I always write in the morning. At noon, I know the best part of the day is over for me.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
This is hard because I don’t have a good concept of who I am. My friends have a strong impression of my personality, but not me. It may go back to that commitment thing. When I was a teenager, I thought it would be good to be a combination of Fred Astaire and John Wayne. I have at least one friend who says I made it. I think what I really liked about those two actors was that they seemed comfortable with who they were. They were definitely distinct. I might choose Hugh Laurie, of House and Black Adder to play me. He’s a wonderful actor who could probably replicate me after some observation. And I’m fascinated by English actors who do good American accents.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I am always gratified when somebody asks me which characters in “Adventures in Nowhere” are based on real people and which are made up. This means I have created believable characters no matter what technique I used. I have one friend who asked which were which, and after I told him, he was sorry he had inquired. He was attached to one of them and was hoping he or she had actually existed, but no.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Actually, I think I could live anywhere in the world. I live modestly, and my monthly income is fairly secure, so I could move almost anywhere. Where I live now is attractive. Gainesville, Florida is regularly on lists of the most livable spots in the US. We are very serious about our trees. Our canopy is a sight to behold.

If you could jump into a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
Green Willow by B.J. Chute. I read this as a kid and what struck me about it was that everyone was connected to everyone else. I’ve always been to a certain extent alienated, so this appealed to me. Also, I don’t remember any mean people in the novel. There were rigid people, but everyone was acting from decent motives. The town itself was magical, and I’ve always wished for magic in real life. As I read Green Willow, I had the sense that everything would be alright in the end. That is a feeling I wish I had in reality.

Write a Haiku about your book
A nowhere will always
Become a somewhere
Curse and blessing in one

Adventures in Nowhere by John Ames:
On the bank of a river sits a moss-covered mansion, moldy and foreboding. Yesterday it was a cheerful bungalow with a dog lazing on a sunny porch. There is no predicting what it will be tomorrow. A young boy sits on the opposite bank, his brow furrowed.

Adventures in Nowhere is told from the wry perspective of ten-year-old Danny Ryan whose realm is 1950s Florida, long before theme parks crowded out the possibility of real magic. Danny refers to his neighborhood as Nowhere, because it seems trapped in time, some parts on the verge of rebirth and others slowly falling apart. Among the things falling apart is the Ryan family, which is dominated by a schizophrenic father who makes every day an adventure, yet Danny keeps his good humor, seeking escape on the nearby Hillsborough River or in the little community of Sulphur Springs with its puzzling mix of the glorious and the shameful. These outings provide Danny a diverting blend of comedy and drama.

But Danny’s adventures take a fateful turn when he begins seeing a mysteriously changing house across the hyacinth-choked Hillsborough. Is he going crazy like his father? Though he feels terribly alone, Danny comes to realize that he has faithful allies among Nowhere’s eccentric inhabitants: Alfred Bagley, a quirky youngster whose fondest desire is to become a junk dealer; Abigail Arnold, an intellectual eleven-year-old with a penchant for blunt talk and red candy lipstick; Donna, a young woman of supernatural beauty and unfathomable motives; Al Gallagher, proprietor of Al’s Swap Shop, a business that is more than it seems; and Buddy Connolly, a confident teenager who prompts Danny toward an odd but powerful salvation.

Adventures in Nowhere is an absorbing story of the search for self, allowing a reader to live for a while in the mind of a remarkably thoughtful and intense boy caught at the final edge of childhood.

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Giveaway Details:
1 Copy of Adventures in Nowhere
Open to US & Canada
Ends 4/14/11