Jack Canon's American Destiny

Broken Pieces

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Author Interview – James R Johnson

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? Not really.  Much of what I write about can be found in history books and online.  One day I’d love to visit Rome and walk through the very ruins of the locations Castimus and his band tread.  Promoting is another matter.  I am travelling to signings and appearances, though I could still do more.

What books have most influenced your life? In regards to my writing, I’d have to say that the books that most impacted me would be the Dune series.  Dune through Chapterhouse Dune.  They have the greatest influence on how I write.  Overall, I would have to say the Bible has been the most influential book in my life.

Have you ever considered anyone as a mentor? I’ve had a great many people in life that have aided me through the years.  They have been with me for a season and then we have gone our separate ways.  Now, to choose one that meant the most to me, that man’s name would be Donnie Harris.  He was a boss of mine for several years.  What I learned from him I not only still use today, but continue to hone and finesse.  I am deeply indebted to Donnie for making me who I am today.

Who is your favorite author and why? So many authors!  I love the works of Frank Herbert, Tom Clancy, William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Frederik Pohl, Arthur C. Clark.  The list goes on and on.  And I love each one for the way they present their story.  The storytelling is unique and I cling to the dynamics of each.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Of course!  I am in the process of writing the sequel to For Gods and For Men now.  Rest assured it will be a while before I hang up my pen (or my laptop).

Have you started another book yet? Yes.  The Lifeblood Saga volume two is already in the works.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself in pretty much the same place I find myself today.  Perhaps with a bit more finesse in my writing, a bit more ease in balancing work and life, but overall still the same ole Jimbob I am today.

What are your current writing projects now? I am currently writing the sequel to For Gods and For Men as well as tweaking the completed screenplay adaptation of For Gods and For Men.  Hopefully we all will get to see the story play out on the big screen!

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? I’ve always found that I need to read several books at once.  Usually I try to read a biography, a non-fiction, and a fiction book.  It gets to be time consuming, but it is works best for me.  I just finished The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty by Kitty Kelley.  I think my next biography might be on Gandhi.  I am also reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.  These are both very good.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? I think that the best tools out there for creators of story are Syd Field’s Screenplay and Dramatica by Melanie Anne Philips and Chris Huntley.  Screenplay, like Dramatica, offers great advice on creating the story structure needed to make a great story.  Although Screenplay offers some specifics to film projects, the basics of story composition are still hugely insightful.  I enthusiastically recommend both of these resources.

What contributes to making a writer successful? Drive.  I believe that if you can face the constant uphill battle of writing something you feel passionate about even though it feels like the world couldn’t care less, you can make it as an author.  I believe it was Bette Midler who once said, “If you’re not neurotic, get out of the business”. I believe that to be true.  You can’t fold at the first or forty-first sign of rejection.  You need to keep doing what you love and in time you will find that you are getting better and better at it.  Eventually, someone will recognize it enough to give it a chance.  Keep driving forward and find a successful writer at the end of the tunnel.

Do you have any advice for writers? Write, write, write.  Then write some more.  Don’t edit.  Don’t proofread.  Don’t rewrite.  When the time is right to do those other tasks, you’ll know because someone told you to do it.  Until that time arrives, just keep writing.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? Take everything I say with a grain of salt.  I’m not an expert on anything nor do I try to be.  Don’t completely rely on my word for anything.  Do your own research, your own soul searching.  Life is an adventure.  So remember to pay attention to the journey more than the destination.  I’m just full of clichés, right?

What do you do to unwind and relax? I watch movies.  I especially love the ones with a great script and splendid acting and incredible cinematography and seamless editing.  “Fine Feature Films” as we call them in my house.  A film can make any day brighter.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? The dream of helping others has always been a dream of mine.  My wife and I help as many people as we can.  We’ve done that throughout our marriage.  Now that there is another income stream, we have more resources to help people with.  You can always lend a helping hand, no matter what you have to offer.  We have lived our lives based on that principle.  Now we find we can help out even more.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? I plan on attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago this summer.  I’d love to meet each and every one of you there!

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Find what makes you happy.  Not just happy, but whole, complete.  Once you find it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Don’t stop searching until you have found it, then hang on with both hands.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I want to know I made a difference.  Not just in writing, but in what that writing enabled me to do.  Provide assistance to those who need it.  I want to see the smiles and joy that my efforts have aided in creating.  Life isn’t about personal gain and accumulation of toys.  It’s about making the world a better place than when you found it.  If I hang up my writing career broke, as long as that money went to worthwhile causes, I can die a happy man.  I don’t want to look back and wonder if I could have done more.

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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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