Hi everyone! This month we have Joshua A. Johnston with us. During the day, he’s a high school teacher and at night he’s spinning stories about space. His first novel, Edge of Oblivion is available now and his second book, Into the Void, comes out February 6th. Yes, that’s right, in a couple of days! In the meantime, here he is to answer seven questions.
1) What is your favorite part of speculative fiction?
I love venturing into worlds that I could never see in real life. The idea that I could visit an alien world light years from Earth, or a fantasy realm with laws of physics that could never happen here, is what keeps bringing me back. I especially love that sense of awe that comes with seeing a new world for the first time.
Yes! Same here 🙂
2) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
It was an odyssey that began quite by accident. Years ago, I found myself with some unexpected free time after I made a mistake that killed my computer. Searching for something else to do, I decided, on a whim, to write a novel. A few years later I finished a trilogy, and let the writing go fallow for several years while I did a lot of reading and other writing.
I eventually returned to the books, where I concluded that they were, well, terrible. But I did see seeds of promise in them, so I subjected them to a thorough rewrite with the perspective of an older me. The fruit of that was the Chronicles of Sarco trilogy.
Eventually, I subjected the first novel to a few close beta readers, who encouraged me to pitch it to publishers. I did, and was surprised one night to receive a call from Enclave publisher Steve Laube. The rest, as they say, is history.
So the death of a computer kick-started your writing? Great story!
3) If you could travel anywhere for book research (all expenses paid) where would you go and why?
Mars? Am I allowed to say Mars? Seriously, I’d love to go to another planet and experience it. In the absence of that, Antarctica could be a fascinating place to visit because there is an ecosystem there you can’t really see anywhere else outside of a zoo.
Pack warm clothes, both places are cold 😉
4) What is the last book you read?
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Great novel, with a nice slow-burn introduction and a cerebral plot from start to finish. Not something you can read half-paying-attention, though—I felt like I had to pay close mind to every detail, or else I’d miss something.
5) What is your favorite part about writing?
There is the moment, sometimes, when as a writer, you get in this tunnel. Time stops, and all you see in front of you is the story unfolding. There’s nothing quite like it.
I recall one time when, as part of my day job, I had to be on call at my workplace for a few hours. For various reasons, I got few visitors that night … so I decided to do some writing. At the time, I was working on my second novel, Into the Void, and remember going a good 45 minutes in that fabled tunnel. When I emerged, I’d written a scene so poignant that no fewer than two beta readers and one editor all told me they hated having to re-read that scene because it shook them so much. That was special.
Ooo, I can’t wait to read that!
6) Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?
Sometimes I go just silent, but when I do listen to music, my writing groove works best when I’m listening to music without words. Classic music is cool, but my favorite songs come from epic music soundtracks, be they from actual films or trailer music like Audiomachine. Interestingly, some of my favored songs don’t always come from movies I like, like Pirates of the Caribbean.
7) How do you come up with your story ideas?
I think it’s true for most creatives that life produces the best ideas. Being out in the world—experiencing both normal daily life and more adventuresome travels—often generates some of the most memorable writing. I’ve had my share character traits, settings, and plotlines come organically just through living life.
Thank you, Joshua A. Johnston, for joining us today! Here is where you can find out more about his space opera series: https://enclavepub2.wpengine.com/authors/joshua-a-johnston/
And don’t miss out on his facebook party on February 8th! https://www.facebook.com/events/523939481306253/