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image of crime thriller author John Clarkson



John Clarkson’s first crime thriller, AND JUSTICE FOR ONE, was published by Crown Publisher’s, Inc. in 1992, followed by two more in that series: ONE MAN’S LAW in 1994, and ONE WAY OUT in 1996. John wrote the screenplay adaptation of AND JUSTICE FOR ONE for Paramount Pictures, which led to writing six episodes for the first-run syndicated TV series LANDS END in 1995.    


After the "ONE" Series, John wrote two standalone books: NEW LOTS, 1998 and REED’S PROMISE, 2001 both published by Tor/Forge. John has just published a revised edition of NEW LOTS, available now in Kindle e-book and paperback versions. (As is the entire “ONE” Series).  

During the time Clarkson wrote his first five novels, he worked in advertising as a copywriter and creative director, first for several New York agencies, and then running his own agency for many years. After closing his ad agency, Clarkson began consulting directly with major corporations devising marketing strategies, developing creative, and managing their advertising agencies.

The advertising and marketing consulting became all-consuming on the creative front, particularly during the eight straight years, Clarkson had at least one and sometimes two TV commercials he helped develop running on the Super Bowl.

But even though the advertising work dominated, Clarkson knew he would get back to writing crime-thrillers at some point. It was just a matter of when.

Around 2012, John became interested in the fact that the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. The U.S. has only 4.2% of the world’s population, and yet incarcerates a staggering 24% of the world’s prisoners. (Interesting how that corresponds with the U.S. also accounting for 24% of the world’s pandemic deaths.) There are over 2 million people in U.S. prisons and penitentiaries and over 4 million on parole or probation.

How does this affect the millions of American citizens in the system? How do they survive in and out of prison? Out of these questions grew the idea of writing a crime novel with ex-cons as the heroes. The result is the James Beck Series, starting with AMONG THIEVES, the novel that brought John Clarkson back to writing crime thrillers full time.


AMONG THIEVES was published in 2015, followed by the sequel BRONX REQUIEM published in 2016, both of which have earned critical acclaim. DEATH COMES DUE, the third book in the series was published in December 2020. The fourth book, TRIBES, was added to the series in May, 2023 

John and his wife Ellen divide their time between Brooklyn and upstate New York


  • What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
    I know it sounds patronizing/obvious, but essentially the advice is — write. Set a quota. Get it done. Keep going. See what you have. Set another quota for pages you want to edit every day. Fix it, polish it, keep going. Otherwise, nothing will happen. Once you have done the above, you can get the more detailed “advice”. This is based on that word “aspiring”. If you’re aspiring to get published, to improve, to get on the best sellers list…etc. then you already are a writer.
  • What are you currently working on?
    Book #3 in the AMONG THIEVES series.
  • How do you get inspired to write?
    Honestly, I don’t actually get “inspired” as much as I just sit down and get to work. It’s that old quota thing. I have a daily quota. I get it done (most of the time) by day’s end, somehow, some way. What happens during the writing is hopefully inspiring, exciting, interesting, or good enough to keep me going during the day and the next day. In order to keep going, lately, I’ve been doing a bit more planning for each day’s work the day or night before. That way I can hit the ground running.
  • Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
    It’s usually a combination of things. But this book started with the persistent, disturbing fact that the United States incarcerates more people per-capita than any other country in the world (except for…get this…Seychelles). U.S. Bureau of Justice says we have 2,266,800 adults imprisoned at the end of 2011. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, and 24% of the world’s prisoners! But that doesn’t even begin to describe the problem. There are also 4,814,200 adults on probation or on parole. And 71,000 juveniles in detention. I kept thinking, what does this mean? What happens to all those millions? So, that’s how AMONG THIEVES started.
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