News & Events 2017-02-20T17:07:05+00:00

News and Events for John Van Roekel and His Novels

John’s “Writer to Watch” Talk Video

I was pleased to be named a “Writer to Watch” by the Friends of the San Diego Central Library. Part of this honor was an invitation to give a talk about my latest book, Lorenzo’s Assassin and about writing, which I did on February 18, 2017.

This is an edited video of that talk.

By | February 22nd, 2017|0 Comments

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

When James Comey quoted King Henry II of England, I and many others recognized the reference. Henry was vexed by Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. Hearing these words, four of his knights promptly assassinated Becket. Afterwards, Henry claimed that he never meant for the archbishop to be killed.

I am not going to make a political point here. Rather, I am struck by the fact that King Henry did not escape punishment. Pope Alexander III forced him to do public penance at Becket’s tomb. Alexander also canonized Becket.

But what happens when it is the Pope himself who expresses a request without giving a direct order? This happened in 1477 when Pope Sixtus IV said of Lorenzo de’ Medici, “I’m telling you: I do not want anyone to die but I do want to change the state [of Florence].” The men who heard this organized what is known today as the Pazzi Conspiracy. The goal was to assassinate Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano.

This is the historical backdrop for my third novel, Lorenzo’s Assassin  Giovan Battista da Montesecco is the Captain of the papal Apostolic Guard and hears Sixtus’s words. The novel follows Giovan and Giuliano’s lovely mistress Fioretta Gorini during the year leading up to the final attack on the Medici brothers in the Duomo of Florence.

So what happened to Sixtus? The plot against the Medici precipitated a war, but it petered out. Sixtus reigned for another seven years and completed what we think of today as his most important legacy: The Sistine Chapel.

And what happened to Giovan and Fioretta? Read Lorenzo’s Assassin to find out.

Lorenzo’s Assassin is available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon:

By | June 9th, 2017|0 Comments

Prisoner Moon Screenplay now on The Black List


The Black List is a service that allows screenwriters to list their screenplays online so industry professionals, including producers, can find and evaluate them. They charge for this and also will provide evaluations for an additional fee. With some misgivings, I decided to give it a try.

I paid to list the Prisoner Moon script and for a single evaluation. Overall, it was a smooth and painless experience — except for the cost, of course.

I received my evaluation about a week after submitting and it seems to be professional. The reviewer seemed to fully understand the story and my goals for the script. Plenty of positive comments plus some useful suggestions for fixing the weaknesses.

The overall score was 7/10. This seems to be good.

Here’s my Blacklist profile:

My favorite quote from the evaluation:

There are strong prospects for this script … The concept is unique for a story that takes place during WWII, and the premise alone should help to turn the heads of some industry readers that are looking for a project within this genre.


By | March 8th, 2017|0 Comments

John’s Talk at the San Diego Central Library

Well, my talk at the San Diego Central Library went pretty well, I think. Lots of friends came. I’m told it was a good turnout for these things. People seemed entertained, and most of my jokes got laughs. And I sold out of all the copies of Lorenzo’s Assassin that I had brought.

Thanks to all of you who were there.



By | February 20th, 2017|0 Comments

Red Carpet Interview at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival

More about Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival (HIMPFF)

Web site:
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I won a very minor award (finalist in one of their monthly contests) for my screenplay, PRISONER MOON. I did not go to the monthly awards ceremony, but I did go to the annual one in early January. It was a real treat. In Hollywood!

Even though this was a very minor award, everyone was incredibly friendly. I was interviewed on the red carpet and went on stage to accept the award in front of a big crowd of filmmakers. Here’s the red carpet interview.

Dani was a real sweetheart and a total professional.

By | February 11th, 2017|0 Comments

Kirkus Review of Lorenzo’s Assassin


Kirkus Reviews is a respected book reviewing service used by many publishers and authors. I just received their review of my latest novel, LORENZO’S ASSASSIN, and to my great relief, it’s pretty good.

“Intricate and gripping, the book keeps the reader racing along with Giovan and company all the way to the bloody end. An ambitious and engrossing tale of Renaissance Italy.”

By | February 9th, 2017|0 Comments