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About John


John is both a fiction and non-fiction author with over thirty published self-help/meditation books plus seven feature screenplays, five cable series, half a dozen novels and 40 published folk-jazz songs. Over the years he has been a cognitive therapist and spiritual counselor, and conducted NIH brain-research studies examining the inner mechanics of mindfulness meditation.


Having studied screenwriting at Princeton and the American Film Institute, John has been in and out of Hollywood, and also worked considerably as a family counselor and therapist. Along with his own writing work, he has taught creative writing and publishing strategies, coached authors in book-project development, and ghostwritten over a dozen books for aspiring authors on a wide variety of themes and genres.


John currently continues with his ghostwriting and author coaching, while also focusing on new screenplays and reentering the world of filmmaking. In addition, he has developed ENJOY THIS MOMENT, a new app-driven approach to mindfulness training and personality growth. Living in Santa Cruz with his wife and son, he hung up his therapist shingle to focus on writing and coaching.






John was born in the secluded Ojai Valley near Santa Barbara. The grandson of early west-coast settlers, he grew up on cattle ranches in California and Arizona, and attended the Ojai Valley School. Following an intense year as an exchange student in South Africa, he went east to Princeton for four years in the mid-sixties, where he studied English, History and Psychology, getting his BA degree in Psychology. He was the token cowboy in his Eating Club at Tower, and in athletics he was 4th in the nation as a Princeton fencer.


While finishing his studies at Princeton, John also started work as a hypnotic subject and then a research hypnotist at the New Jersey Neuro-psychiatric Institute working under the renown Dr. Humphry Osmond MD doing brain research for the National Institutes of Health. His early memoir Blowing America's Mind documents in dramatic form that early professional experience. 


Under the guidance of Alan Watts, John left research work and moved to San Francisco to continue his graduate studies in psychology at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. His novel Shooting Angels covers this period of his life, as he struggled to fit into his parents' Presbyterian tradition and become a minister - but quickly outgrew his inherited beliefs. After 4 years he left the San Rafael Presbyterian Church where he was Youth Minister and Family Counselor (his ThD doctoral degree was in Pastoral Counseling) - but continued researching his passion for understanding the psychological dynamics of the meditative-mystic experience. 



Following his departure from the ministry and also the break-up of his first marriage, John went to LA in the mid-seventies to take part in the early director-intern program at the American Film Institute. He had a sharp knack for story-telling and writing screenplays and signed with the renown film agent Reece Halsey, but Hollywood refused to produce his early spiritual-edged dramas. Not fitting into the commercial Hollywood screen-writing scene, John then finished his post-grad studies under Dr. Chuck Kelly PhD at the Radix Institute in Ojai. becoming a Neo-Reichian therapist/consultant based in Santa Monica and then (with his second wife Lisette Scholl) in San Luis Obispo. 


In SLO John worked with therapy clients but continued writing his raw early fiction. And whenever the cowboy edge to his personality got fed up with therapy work, he made lengthy trips south of the border to Mexico and Guatemala, studying primitive tribal customs and working on various fiction and song-writing projects. 


Returning from a wild year in highland Guatemala in 1979, John wrote and sold an early mystic/action novel (Powerpoint - still available) to Warner Books. Forced by his NY editor to change the plot and theme into an occult thriller, he swore never again to focus on commercial literary success. However, the main characters and themes that now populate his Jack Hadley Mystery series were already present in his early writings.


Born into a family plagued with trauma, John worked for several decades to imagine, explore, invent and teach new ways to evoke emotional healing, personal growth, and spiritual awakening. This lifelong search led to his development of a number of new therapy tools described in his various psychology books. Several of his self-help cognitive-shifting texts (on quieting the chronic flow of thoughts in the mind) sold very well in America and Europe (over 500,000 copies) and contributed actively to the recent mindfulness movement.



In the eighties, not feeling resonant with the rightist drift of American politics, John moved to West Berlin where a young generation of Germans were eager to explore his new therapy and personal-transformation methodologies. He spent seven highly-productive years doing individual therapy work and leading transformation groups in 5 European cities, further advancing the mindfulness techniques he'd later bring back to America.


While in Switzerland in 1984, John encountered and bonded with the Bavarian artist who would become his third and present wife, Birgitta Steiner. Together they envisioned and sold a 24-book 'self-therapy library' to a major European publisher Droemer Knaur, and worked for 4 years creating both text and audio dimensions for those German-market programs.

During his research and therapy career, especially during the years he practiced therapy in West Berlin and Switzerland, John regularly worked at the creative edge of the corporate world, encouraging mindfulness and the need of employees to find fulfillment in their occupation. This focus led to the founding of the BrightMind Corporation in Hawaii in the nineties. Working with Plantronics and Microsoft, that company morphed into WizeWell Inc more recently in Silicon Valley. A number of John's private therapy clients have been leaders in the business world. Evolved into fiction format, several of the corporate leaders have become characters in his new psych-tech mystery series.



As mentioned above, John has lived two lives. His renegade cowboy roots led him often into adventure, fiction and screenplay writing, along with a lot of song-writing and a great deal of exploration and fun - while his psychologist passions inspired experimentation and development of self-therapy programs. But always, he kept on writing.


In retrospect, he says that all his therapy work and seemingly-crazy adventures were essential research for his ongoing fiction and screenplay writing. He also sees his current ghostwriting and author coaching as part of this broader exploration of human nature.


Following two early growthful marriages, John is happily married for the long-term and has three grown sons, Shon, Kibo and Jesse. After living in California, Arizona, South Africa, New Jersey, Germany, Switzerland, New Mexico, Guatemala and Kauai, John and Birgitta settled in Santa Cruz ten years ago.  

During the past decade John has envisioned, written and now published 5 new suspense/mystery/thriller novels and film properties which represent the culmination of his literary work. He has also helped dozens of new authors complete and publish their books, and he finds this author-support service highly satisfying. John's other passions include  song-writing, photo-art, gardening, cooking, partying, exploring, and meditating - and not necessarily in that order.


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