Rediculously long Obit-worthy Bio
DeDakis (pronounced deh-DAY-kiss) is the author of five mystery/suspense novels -- Fast Track, Bluff, Troubled Water, Bullet in the Chamber, and Fake. The novels provide a behind-the-scenes look at real-world journalism.
Fast Track is the story of Lark Chadwick, a young woman searching for purpose as she solves the mystery surrounding the car-train collision that orphaned her as an infant. The novel deals redemptively with issues of suicide, journalistic integrity, anonymous sources, and mentoring relationships.
Fast Track grew out of two events in the author's life: a fatal car/train crash he witnessed as a youngster in 1959 and the suicide of his sister in 1980.
Fast Track won Silver (2nd place) in the 2021 Reader Views Literary Awards in the Classics/Adult Fiction category.
John's second novel, Bluff, a sequel to Fast Track, is based on his four-day, 25-mile hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Both novels are set in south central Wisconsin.
In the 2021 Reader Views Literary Awards competition, Bluff won Silver in the Mystery / Thriller category and placed first in the Great Lakes Region.
In Troubled Water, John's third novel in the Lark Chadwick saga, Lark discovers the first victim of what turns out to be a serial killer while on her way to her new job as a cops and courts reporter at a kick-ass daily newspaper in Georgia. Readers will come away with a better understanding of how journalism works -- and doesn't.
In John's fourth novel, Bullet in the Chamber, Lark once again finds herself at the wrong place at the right time: front-row center when the White House press briefing room is suddenly attacked. The president is missing, the first lady’s life is at risk, and Lark’s personal life is falling apart when the man she loves disappears. In this story, John draws on his own personal pain – the heroin overdose that killed his 22-year-old son Stephen in 2011.
Bullet in the Chamber won the Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award for 2016/2017, placing first in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror category. Bullet also won a Silver Medal (second place) for The 2016 Foreword INDIES Book Award in the Thriller/Suspense category. It was an INDIES finalist in the Best Mystery category. And Bullet won the 2017 Feathered Quill Book Award (Bronze/3rd Place) in the Best Mystery/Thriller category.
In Fake, John's fifth Lark Chadwick novel, Lark is thrust into a media-bashing frenzy at a time when facts are suspect and reporters are targets. ("A gripping, topical tale about the difficulties of discerning the truth in the new world of fake news." ~Kirkus).
Fake earned Honorable Mention for the Reviewers Choice Award and was a Finalist for two book awards: Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, and the CLUE Award sponsored by the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBA).
Each book in the Lark Chadwick series is written to stand alone -- they don't need to be read in order.
John's literary agent since 2004 is Barbara Casey and he's working with agent Garry Dinnerman of Beverly Grant Associates (BGA) to bring the screenplay adaptations of his novels to the attention of Hollywood.
From 2013 to 2015, DeDakis was an adjunct journalism faculty member at the University of Maryland-College Park. In the fall of 2014, he began leading the "From Novice to Novelist" writing workshop at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He's also taught writing workshops at Washington's popular independent bookstore Politics and Prose.
John DeDakis, a native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, began his journalism career in 1969 at a campus radio station at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was tear gassed while covering an anti-Vietnam War riot in 1970. He earned a B.A. in Journalism from that university in 1977 following a stint in the U.S. Army where he worked from 1972-74 as a Special Events Reporter at The American Forces Network - Europe (AFN-E) based in Frankfurt, Germany. During that time he interviewed legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock.
In 1970, DeDakis was the first news director of WLSU-FM (88.9 NPR) located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. From 1976 to 1983, DeDakis was a reporter at WMTV (NBC-15) in Madison, Wisconsin where he covered energy and transportation issues.
From 1983 to 1988, he was a General Assignment Correspondent with CBN News in Virginia Beach, Virginia. DeDakis was CBN's White House Correspondent during the last three years of Ronald Reagan's presidency. In addition to interviewing Reagan, John also interviewed former president Jimmy Carter.
In March 2013, DeDakis retired from CNN after a 25-year career there that began in 1988 when he joined the network as a writer. From 2001 to 2005, he supervised the writing on CNN's "Daybreak," anchored by Carol Costello. He also copy edited newscasts anchored by Donna Kelley, Leon Harris, Bill Hemmer, Daryn Kagan, Kitty Pilgrim, and Martin Savidge.
From 2006 to 2013, DeDakis led workshops in broadcast newswriting in CNN's Washington, D.C. bureau.
In addition to book signings and readings, DeDakis frequently speaks around the country on the topic "From Journalist to Novelist: (Or How I Learned to Start Making it Up)." He is also available as a one-on-one writing coach, a leader of day-long workshops for aspiring and/or struggling writers, and as an editor of book-length manuscripts.
From June 28-July 4, 2015, John led a series of workshops at an immersive writing retreat in County Donegal, Ireland.
DeDakis led a series of writing workshops aboard the Coral Princess on an 11-day cruise to the Panama Canal Oct. 24 - Nov. 4, 2013.
Between April 7 and May 29, 2013, DeDakis was the Writer in Residence at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta teaching fiction writing classes and holding one-on-one writing tutorials.
DeDakis taught a journalism/writing class for student interns during the summers of 2007/08 as a lecturer at American University, Washington, D.C. (Guest speakers included legendary White House Correspondent Helen Thomas, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, and Michael Ruane of the Washington Post.)
John was an on-line adjunct professor at Regent University where he taught newswriting to grad students in 2008 and led a seminar in June 2009 on how to write a novel.
In April 2010, DeDakis led writing workshops at The Writers' Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was the keynote speaker in May 2010 at the Scribblers' Retreat writers conference on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
In recent years, DeDakis has been a popular workshop leader at the following writers' conferences: Sleuthfest (Florida), Killer Nashville (Tennessee), Pennwriters (Pennsylvania), Flathead River (Montana), Hampton Roads (Virginia), Bay to Ocean (Maryland), BooksAlive (Florida), Lakefly (Wisconsin). He returned to the Lakefly conference May 9-10, 2014 to be a keynote speaker.
DeDakis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. In 2013, he served as a judge for the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel (Hardcover). The winner, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, was announced May 1, 2014 at the Mystery Writers of America banquet in New York City.
In the 1960s, DeDakis was an actor and performed in several productions at the La Crosse [Wisconsin] Community Theater where he won a Dionysos Award for his portrayal of Fleet Foot, a decrepit Indian guide in the musical spoof "Little Mary Sunshine." He played the role of Grandma in a production of Edward Albee's "The Sandbox" which placed first in a state-wide one-act play competition in Wisconsin.
John's wife, Cynthia, a choral conductor, is a former music consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. From 2011-2015 she was the manager of the chorister program at National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. She is a former national President of The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in America.
John and Cindy met in 1977 when John joined the choir at St. Andrews Episcopal church in Madison, Wisconsin and Cindy became the new choir director. They married the next year and now live in the Washington, D.C. area. They have two grown children:
Emily earned her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland and has been a dramaturg at Belfast's Accidental Theater;
James lives in Oregon and was the drummer for the nationally-known bands Wages and Arizona. He now runs J-DeD Media, a media production company.
John and Cindy's youngest son, Stephen, 22, died unexpectedly August 21, 2011. He was a musician and cook in the Washington, D.C. area. Bullet in the Chamber, the fourth novel in John's mystery/suspense series, fictionalizes the circumstances surrounding Stephen's death.
He is currently at work on book six in his Lark Chadwick series (Working title: Enemies Domestic), plus a memoir (Working Title: What Alfred Hitchcock Told Me (and more): A Life of Plot Twists).You're invited to follow John DeDakis on Instagram (dedakisjohn), Twitter @johnDeDakis, and on LinkedIn.