The Big Thrill— "Debut Spotlight: John Copenhaver"

by E. A. Aymar


For people who know John Copenhaver —either friends, students, or teachers, or fans of his work with Lambda Literary —DODGING AND BURNING is the book we’ve been waiting for him to write. The coming-of-age mystery set in the 1940s is the ideal culmination of his cultural, historical, and personal interests — and does the neat trick of giving those interests a tense, universal appeal.

I first met John at Fall for the Book at George Mason University. A graduate of that university’s MFA program, he has written a book that joins the ranks of other celebrated and award-winning crime fiction writers from that school, including Art Taylor, Tara Laskowski, and Laura Ellen Scott. I’ve since kept a close eye on his career, and was excited to have the chance to interview him about his debut thriller.

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The Washington Blade— "QUEERY: John Copenhaver"

by Joey DiGuglielmo

Jay Greenwood is a gay, WWII photographer in love with a guy, Robbie, who is MIA in the Pacific. We learn of their story as Bunny Prescott, who’s in love with Jay, learns it along with Robbie’s kid sister, Ceola.

That’s the premise of “Dodging and Burning,” the debut novel from D.C.-based author John Copenhaver. It comes out Tuesday, March 6 in hardcover for $25.95 from Pegasus Crime.

Copenhaver, a 43-year-old Marion, Va., native who works by day as the 7-12 English Department chair at Flint Hill School, says finally seeing his book in print after four years of writing and another five to find an agent and publisher, is both an “exhilarating and terrifying” prospect.

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Washington Independent Review of Books— "An Interview with John Copenhaver"

by Wendy Besel Hahn

"Dodging" and "burning” refer to techniques a photographer can use to manipulate his subjects’ appearance. In his debut novel by that same name, John Copenhaver beautifully renders the lives of four young people — Bunny Prescott, Jay Greenwood, Robbie Bliss, and Robbie’s kid sister, Ceola — through alternating lenses of photographs, letters, diary entries, notes, and other documents.

Set primarily in Royal Oak, Virginia, during WWII, the events in Dodging and Burningincorporate elements of mystery, war photography, sexual orientation, and loss of innocence into one exquisite frame, leaving the reader turning pages even once the final word appears.

Copenhaver and I recently sat down to talk about the book.

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