Heartbreak is a thriller set in the 1990s and the first novel in The Lenka Trilogy, followed by Resilience and Reflection. It centres on Lenka Brett, a sheltered but astute young woman, who teaches in an orphanage in Ireland. Having seen the horrific treatment of children in Romanian orphanages on the news, she volunteers to become part of a relief convoy. This is the first of several aid missions, which take her into the heart of major conflicts across the globe, including the war in the Balkans where she is targetted by mercenaries.
The stories are framed around major historical events. The characters are fictional but are based on those the author encountered when he led humanitarian aid convoys in Romania, South America, and Bosnia during the war. The death of friends during this time compelled John to write his autobiography, The Benevolence of Rogues. It attracted favourable reviews, including the Hampstead & Highgate Arts Review, which wrote “Righten has been in the wrong place at the right time since the 1980s”.
John has also written The Rogues Trilogy, set in the 1930s, the heroic story of those trying to help families fleeing the Nazis on the eve of war, and The Lochran Trilogy, a series of epic thrillers set in the 1960s. He has written a short play, The ‘Pane’ of Rejection, which takes a wry look at writing and dealing with the critics. His first novel, Churchill’s Rogue, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Inaugural Adventure Awards.