John T. Prather headshot | Deep River Books

John T. Prather, author of the award-winning Christian thriller The Nephilim Virus, wears many hats: dad, husband, actor, fitness model, and novelist. It is a lot to balance, and if you were to go by his Instagram photos alone, it might seem like he does it all almost effortlessly. This past summer, I spoke with him on the phone to learn a little more about how the various parts of his life fit together. He shared practical details about routine, how his acting influences his writing, and whether or not his work in front of the camera made it easier to promote his writing.

Family, Writing, and Early Mornings

When Deep River Books released Prather’s first novel, The Nephilim Virus, in November 2017, he and his wife had one young daughter—a foster daughter, to be precise, as he lovingly proclaims throughout his social media and blog. In March, twins were born to the Prather family, bringing the diaper count up to three. Since then, Prather continues to write, promote his book, keep in shape for fitness modeling, and take acting gigs. I couldn’t help but ask—how does he manage all that with three little ones?

“First of all, I have a really great wife,” Prather explains with a smile in his voice. “She’s very supportive—we’re very supportive of each other.” Listening to him, it’s easy to hear his respect for her. They work as a team. But other elements contribute to Prather’s work as well.

“I’m not a big sleeper,” Prather says. “I get a lot done early in the morning. … I’ll get up early to work out and write.” He regularly wakes up between 5 and 7 a.m.—and at one point, he woke up at 4 a.m. every morning for a week, with the goal to write 5,000 words (see his blog post to learn how that turned out). At the time of our conversation, this was early enough to accomplish a fair amount before the kids woke up.

The combination of routine, flexibility, and a supportive wife help Prather find the time to work toward his goals. But for him, his varied work endeavors are not merely separate pursuits to juggle.

Acting, Writing, and Dialogue

Prather’s experience acting gives him a perspective on storytelling that not all writers have.

“The acting and the writing help each other, and each one makes the other a little stronger—especially when it comes to dialogue,” Prather explains. All the scripts he reads and all the lines he delivers enable him to write “sharper, wittier dialogue.” That is a significant advantage, as dialogue can be one of the more difficult elements for new novelists to master.

But the acting experience brings more to Prather’s writing than effective dialogue. When you read The Nephilim Virus, the sharp, visual style influenced by screenplay is difficult to miss. As Prather himself recognizes, The Nephilim Virus “unfolds like a movie.” Sentences are on the shorter side, efficiently guiding readers through the story with just as much detail as needed to draw them into each scene.

Social Media and Self-Promotion

While acting helped Prather with the actual writing, there are other parts of being a novelist that his on-camera work did not prepare him for—including social media and self-promotion. It would be easy to assume that self-promotion comes easily to a man who has appeared in commercials, TV shows, magazine ads, and more. But that isn’t necessarily true.

“Self-promotion is kind of against my grain,” says Prather. “It took a little doing to get on social media. [But] like the PR person told me, people want to know you. So you gotta do it whether you want to or not.”

Because Prather understands the value of social media and self-promotion, he has learned to use the relevant tools. Now, he even enjoys much of it—both online, such as on Twitter, and offline, in interviews for magazines and television.

For Prather, his blog was of the easier parts of establishing an online presence and learning to promote his work. He describes his blog as “kinda a warm-up,” because “the writing bit comes easily, and I have always liked to write.” The promotion necessary to draw people to the blog was not as easy, at least not at first. But then he understood: “You’re actually giving information, offering advice for free. Why would you be afraid to do that?”

Prather recognized the value of what he wrote, and he realized something that all promotion-shy writers must learn: “Unless you get it out in front of the public, it will do no good. Understand that [self-promotion] is necessary to do to get your work in front of people.” That is true whether you’re offering advice and information, chapters of your thrilling novel, or both.

Always Learning, Online and Off

Self-promotion on social media can still be difficult for Prather, but it is not as difficult as it used to be. Prather has taken to Twitter, especially—not just as a place to promote himself, but as a place to connect with other authors.

“Twitter is better for me because I can follow authors, learn from them,” he explains. In fact, both learning from more successful authors and supporting less successful authors is a consistent part of his approach, as he indicated in a recent tweet. He recommends: “Buy a book from an author that is a little more successful for you, and one from someone who is a little less. Learn and help.” Twitter is just one way he’s found to connect with those authors he can learn from, support, or both.

Prather is always learning—from the Hollywood professionals he works with, other authors, his own experience, PR experts, his family. Sometimes, he learns something in one creative endeavor that seamlessly fits into his writing, even if he didn’t anticipate it. Other times, he seeks education for a specific purpose, such as on Twitter—or a trip to Washington DC to research for The Nephilim Virus’s sequel. This drive to hone his crafts, further fueled by faith and teachability, is what makes him stand out as a writer.

The Nephilim Virus by John Prather | Deep River BooksAbout the Book

In John Prather’s 2017 novel The Nephilim Virus, Nick Reese wakes from a three-year coma to find an ancient virus from biblical times has infected two-thirds of the world’s population. There is no government, no antidote, and no safety. With the help of a hematologist named Faith and a man they call the Commander, Nick must survive long enough to discover the origin of the virus. Failure means the extinction of the human race.

The Nephilim Virus won the gold medal in the Christian Thriller category in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Other book-related accomplishments and media features include interviews on ABC Memphis and a local CBS morning show, interviews on the radio and in magazines such as Faith and Fitness, and positive reviews from multiple sources, including the Midwest Book Review. While The Nephilim Virus is rooted in faith-related themes and draws part of its premise from the Bible, it is approachable for a more secular audience as well, and has earned enthusiastic endorsements from the Emmy-nominated film and television writer Kenny Schwartz and even the actress Megan Fox. Given Prather’s script-influenced writing style, it’s no surprise that Fox and others have stated that The Nephilim Virus would make a great movie.

To learn more about John T. Prather and The Nephilim Virus, be sure to follow these links: