My Journey Through Storytelling

I owe my first time reader an explanation about a few things. I know it’s not the norm with all writers, but I get to the point after some research, a skeletal outline, and some expanded thoughts when my fingers start to tingle. The core ideas start to shake my sleeves, and nudge my fingers toward the keyboard. It’s time for me to ‘go’. I have a need to trust what comes to me. Here’s the short story how I got here:

I became a writer at the corner of Bayard and George Streets. If you went to Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, you know where that is.

No, I didn’t whip out a pen and pad. Later, hindsight realized that was the moment.

John HeldonBefore then, I had dabbled at blogging, which wasn’t enough to count for me, just as warm up exercises don’t compare to a cardio workout. Nothing against blogging. Some are terrific, but a novel was my goal before saying to myself, ‘I’m a writer’. So, on that corner in the Spring of 2011, while talking to a big guy about basketball, blogging, then writing a novel, an epiphanous wind blew through me, leaving an idea: ‘Hoosiers Meets Field of Dreams’.

It would become my first novel, Ark. It’s second edition, Ark Book IV: Ghosts, is necessary because Ark was the pebble thrown into the pond, whose ripples gave me ideas for a much larger story, or saga, to be sure. Also, a rewrite was needed to sow some seeds which would sprout in later books.

If you’re still with me, I’ll give you a sneak peak of the next two books, and a hint of a third.

Guess what? Ark turned out to be a light, fast (and many said good) read, which got me to my second book: Ark Book V: Beneath. Telling a ghost story allowed me to realize the Ark had it’s own special character: it’s a paranormal portal linking a mysterious Native-American tribe, who vanished before the Europeans arrived, and a Doomsday which can be averted, if the tribe’s secret is found.

This second book ends in a cliffhanger, as the main characters gain entrance through the portal. I found it wasn’t much of a leap between the paranormal and the spiritual. These few have been chosen by ‘Higher Authorities’, and ‘He’ and ‘She’ have been guiding their quest.

On a roll pounding the keyboard, I finished Ark Book VI Above. It gives these chosen few a glimpse of Doomsday, which is near and tough to avoid, unless the World returns to a matrilineal way of life. Can these chosen few sell this simple, best idea to the ‘engineers’ who are driving the ‘train’ off its rails? I think yes, since there was a David and Goliath.

From one idea, Ark became a trilogy. Actually, the middle trilogy of nine books in all, God willing.

Here is where I think we all need help, looking at the messy World we live in. The end of Ark Book VI Above asks:

Would we be in a better place if Wars were up to women?

I’ve run the question past quite a few women, and their answers fall into two camps:

Yes, we would be in a better place.

No, Power would corrupt them also.

It should be pointed out that nearly all ancient tribes were matrilineal, where the mother’s brother was trusted more with the mother’s children than the children’s father (s). Over time, with brute force, and herds of domestic animals to trade for a wife, the men took over.

How should my question above be answered?

You, the reader, are now up to date with my journey through storytelling. I will tell you the middle of my story, after which I’ll tell you the beginning, then the end. Present, Past, Future, over billions of years.

John Heldon
June 16, 2015

Characters of Ark

Since Ark was published, quite a few readers, especially Rutgers alums, have come running up to me at RU basketball games, and said, ‘this or that character was this or that player, right?’

Characters of ArkMy response has always been, if you want to interpret the character that way, go right ahead, it’s your enjoyment, and money at stake here. However, I have to repeatedly insist, all of the characters are composites of college and pro players I’ve admired over the years of my watching, enjoying, and paying to see games.

I’ll just throw some character names out there. If you’re a Rutgers fan, more of the names will stick with you, since that was my experience also. Here goes.

“Sampson”, “Bird”, “Quincy”, “Barrett”. These samples reflect my experience within the professional and collegiate ranks. Also, mannerisms and ethnicity stand for certain players, and certain teams.

I guess I could explain ’til I’m blue in the face, but that’s really the way I structured the book. It’s my homage to the game, as I’ve watched it over the years, and that’s the truth.

Five Golden Hoops for this one!


Can you relive your past in the present with the help of some interesting ghosts? What would happen if you came face to face with the members of a basketball team, long gone in body but not in spirit as you take a journey back in time and relive the games played in the old gym where you watched so many games called The Ark. Entering the gym, the door unlocked what our narrator encounters would shake the inner core of many but not John.

Chance encounters happen when you least expect them too. Meeting a man named Calvin, talking about writing and finding his way to his old campus sends him on a dream trip that would change more than just his life in the present but those he encounters in the past. Some people retire and move away to a retirement village.

Some decide that this is their chance to change their lives and start a whole new career. Imagine wanting to be a writer, an author and still maintain your love and passion to help out your alma mater’s men’s basketball program. Sunnyside College is a small college in Delaware. Driving home close to this campus is where we find our narrator as I stated. Getting inside the Ark, or old gym he hears a voice. Thinking he might be hearing things he never expects to see the person whose voice it is in person. Slick Johnson one of the team members, in ghostly form, faces him front and home court. But, when Slick relates an incident that happened in 2008 you begin to realize that he is no ordinary ghost and what happens next will definitely give you much pause for thought as a whole team of ghosts that played in this old gym are not only alive in the past but the present too.

But, this team has a past and it almost won the championship over forty years ago. The other school was much larger. Relating that he and his teammates play there all the time and even when live games are played they continue to play in the gym even passing through the live players creates an interesting story for this reviewer.

Can you change the course of history? What about the final score of a lost game? When John realizes that he is seeing a ghost what happens when he sees a whole team of them? What would you do if you game face to face with the original basketball team from Sunnyside College? They look the same as they did in 1971, you identify them all, describing them quite vividly, know their positions on the team and them proceed to have to figure out not only why they are still there but why you are there too?

ArkNovels.comGhosts are supposed to spook you but not these guys. As John talks with Slick and meets the rest of the team, the author describes them in such detail that the reader can visualize these players as if they were standing in front of you. Added in the conversation between Slick and John lets you know that he’ll be returning to the Ark and maybe see that championship game himself. But, what will he tell his wife Genna when he gets home? As he leaves and promises to return he replays the evening in his own mind and then quietly gets into bed without stirring his wife. The following morning he creates his story, some true some stretched as we meet Slick once again and learn more about his dreams, hopes and desires for himself even though he’s a spirit. But, returning he learns that Sunnyside is about to play Mega again and that they cannot see John as Slick states because his energy is with them.

Returning home he spends the day with his wife, enjoys the galleries, the shops and finds himself drawn to returning to the Ark when a voice beckons him to return and the need for Charlie to speak with him first. As he reenters the Ark and speaks with Charlie they both realize that there has to be a purpose for his being there and for the need for all of the players to talk to him. Added in is the fact that these men made a different on and off the court so why are they stuck in limbo and in this place with no where to really turn except the court. Playing the other team over and over again just reminds them of the original loss.

Even Charlie states it’s as if they replay the game, the tape gets you might say erased, they seem to disappear and then it starts over again. But why? Why is the one that was guided there? How can there older selves be alive in the present and John knows them from the past. Replaying the same game over and over again and stuck in the Ark and not able to rest. Will they spend eternity there? What is the answer? Next, as John tries to find time to spend with his wife and a day to himself the voice returns asking him to speak with Quincy. Somehow, he needs to find a way to separate all of this but will he trust anyone with the truth? Then, he relates to his friend Calvin an oversight involving the team. But, the answer is unbelievable and the new coach does not want to blend the past and the present and the oversight will not be overturned even 40 years later. Harry and Byron were next and one thing became clearer is that all of this was linked to Charlie in some way and the team was lost in warp time and sort of suspended in their own world of animation. Each player playing the games over and over again as if by rote but not with any real passion or love for what they did in the past and wondering how this was linked to their lives in the present. John knew it was his job to fix whatever he could to help the players find a place for themselves in one of the worlds. What kind of lives were they living in the past and how can they live in two time periods? Reaching out to the present coach and writing to the Athletic Director, John hoped to get some positive results.

Emails sent, meetings in the works and the hope of getting the alumni involved, expanding membership in the Back Court, involving the community more and even having sign up tables at football games were just some of the ideas that John and Ken came up with. But, they needed to deal with the AD and the Coach who seems to resent their efforts at first.

ArkNovels.comThen, the author introduces the players on the team in the present as John reaches out to the team in the present, the alumni and we meet Slick (Reece), Johnny Bird, Byron, Harry and the rest in present or real time and learn about their lives, second chances and much more.

As we meet the players from the past we begin to understand why John was sent and the real mission that needs to be completed. It is more than just the loss, the one game that caused them to be defeated but redemption, owing one man more than they have given and to correct something from the past to make the present better for each one of them. So, how can the 1971-team members finally find a place for themselves in any world? How will that coincide with the alternate personality or person in the present?

The final ending and result you will have to read for yourself. What is reality and what is just one man’s hope to revive the past? Read the Ark and find out what happens to the team from the past, the one from the present and how one amazing gym would hold memories for everyone that they would never forget. Just what will John write in his first novel. Maybe you just read it and he just did!

Great book filled with lessons to be learned about giving back, helping those that helped us in the past, community spirit and much more. Ark: a must read.


– By Amazon Customer as posted on

New Ark Book?

Around the writing circles here in Northern New Jersey I’m hearing rumors that Ark author, John Heldon, is close to releasing a new Ark book. I’m predicting the new book will build on the characters and the unique supernatural concepts introduced in Ark book one. I imagine that many Ark fans will share my enthusiasm and sense of anticipation for the new release.

For those not familiar with Ark author John Heldon. He was born in 1947 and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey. After attending Rutgers University, he embarked on a career in sales which led to the founding of a successful plastics fabricating business.  He retired to work and love twice as hard as a writer. “Ark” is his first novel. The second and third books  are in the works. He lives in Marlboro, NJ, with his wife, Virginia. They have one son, Geoff, and hyperactive Maltese, Lily, who keeps them young.

This video describes his book, Ark, and why it is unique.

John is driving home one night, passing close to the campus of Sunnyside College, a small, barely Division I school in Delaware. An urge to reminisce overcomes him, and he drives over to the Ark, the nickname for the old gym where he loved to watch basketball as a student almost forty-five years ago. He’s able to get inside, where he encounters a basketball team of ghosts from Sunnyside who almost won the NCAA Championship forty years before. The team is in limbo inside the Ark, replaying games against the much larger university they lost to in the finals.

He realizes these aren’t any ordinary ghosts. Their older selves are still alive, and John has met all of them over the ensuing years. In effect, in this time warp, John knows more about these ghosts’ lives, and their futures, than they do. The ghosts realize John must be there for a purpose, and he decides to find out why the ghosts are stuck in time, enduring a growing torturous loop of games without meaning.

While seeking to unravel this mystery at the Ark, John realizes redemption for the ghosts, as well as himself, depends on the actions he must help arrange with others, who aren’t, and cannot, be privy to his “real” motives.

If readers enjoyed a book like W.R. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, or its movie adaptation, Field of Dreams, I believe they will appreciate Ark’s different slant, served slightly chilled, sprinkled with humor, and a twist at the end.


You’ll find Ark by John Heldon at