Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Author Interview – James R Johnson

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? My biggest influence in writing the novel was my father.  He is an avid sci-fi/fantasy fan.  So I asked him to offer some guidance and advice on the manuscript.  His comments were valuable and insightful.  I certainly plan on utilizing his services again in the future!

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? Over the years I have been writing, the one thing that I can point to and say that influenced me would have to be the allure of film.  Movies are my passion.  I watch them with a critical and technical eye.  So when I wrote screenplays, I wanted to see everything that I wrote played out on the screen in my mind, my own personal storyboard.  Once I transitioned to novels, I maintained that visual feel to my writing.

What made you want to be a writer? Surprisingly, I never wanted to be a writer.  My plan was to be a famous actor that directs.  Kind of like Ben Affleck.  Writing at that point was a means to an end.  I couldn’t direct my own projects unless I wrote a script to produce.  Striking out to write a novel was a difficult decision for me.  At first I didn’t want to do it.  I thought it better to write the screenplay and try to sell it.  But the reality of the industry (no-name writer with an epic script that will be expensive to produce), guaranteed every Hollywood door slammed in my face.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Writing the novel wasn’t a consolation prize.  It was a new challenge, a challenge that seemed insurmountable without any real training in writing novels.  It was quite an undertaking, and I wasn’t sure it would be commercially viable.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The hardest part for me in writing anything is staring at the blank screen.  I can do all the research I possibly can.  I can structure the story to the most minute detail.  I can know the psychological makeup of each character to the deepest depths.  But writing that first paragraph is like sitting through a tax seminar.  No offense to my tax professional friends!  Getting the ball rolling is the toughest part for me.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? The book is set in ancient Rome.  I have a real appreciation for history and that culture excites me anyway.  But I was a far cry from an expert on that period in history (still a far cry).  There was a great deal of research I had to do in order to make the characters believable, the culture tangible, and the setting authentic.  The biggest hurdle was getting into the mind of Romans in a world where life was cheap and morals were of little value.  It really was a different world back then.  Managing the culture of the day and make the characters accessible to the audience took some maneuvering.

Do you intend to make writing a career? Yes and no.  I have a full time job as a videographer, which I love.  So, in that sense, no, I have no places to make writing my full time gig.  However, I have a collection of stories buried within me that are cued up to be written.  As I write my books (and adapt them to film hopefully), I have plans for the revenue from that.  There are charities I am eager to increase in support.  I want to set up a foundation to aid couples in adoption.  I have big plans to help people from the proceeds of my writing.

Have you developed a specific writing style? I don’t really think so.  I write in a way that keeps my attention and provokes me to keep reading.  I’m not focused on developing a style, really.  Just writing a compelling story that keeps people wanting more.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? If I had to name the greatest strength as a writer it would have to be self-motivation.  I don’t have to write.  I can express my creativity in other ways.  I have a career that is sufficient for me.  But writing provides me the opportunity to make a difference in the world, help people I’ve met.  Keeping myself disciplined to stay on task and write is a huge asset.

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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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