*** Author Bio ***
Chris Johnson is an Australian author who was born and raised in Rockhampton, Queensland. He now lives with his wife in Brisbane, where he works as a stage mentalist when he is not writing. He also has a background in sales and marketing, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology.
*** Author Interview with Chris Johnson ***
Kasper: Hi Chris, it’s great to have you above our FSFNet interview space shuttle. Let’s fire up the warp drive and see what exciting places we go.
Do you have a pen name and why? I don’t have a pen name, but I have considered it for some works I plan to release in the future. The obvious benefit of a pen name is the anonymity, but it’s also a good way to check how people like your writing if you decide to write a different genre. For the time being, I am happy using my own name for my writing.
What was the defining event that made you start writing? I think the first time I every considered writing something longer than a short story was in seventh grade. I wanted to write something as fantastic as The Wizard of Oz. The exercise book I wrote the first eight chapters in disappeared some years ago. Then in eleventh grade, as part of an imaginative essay I wrote, I decided to take that character and write a novel with him. I ended up writing five of them, and a sixth with another character from the series. They are still unpublished, but one day they will meet more readers.
Wow, you’re sitting on a lot of novels there Chris. I hope they see the light of day soon.
What other writing have you done? I have also written poems. My first one, Poker Queen, was a gambler who lost a card game to the woman of his dreams and married her. I was seventeen, and it felt good to see it published in The Morning Bulletin. I’ve since lost the original version of it, and I hope my mother saved a copy. The other poems are unpublished, being more private but just as whimsical.
What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre? My style is laid back, and I try to imagine that I’m telling the story around a fireplace. The funny thing is one of my readers described the same feeling to me after reading my book Twelve Strokes of Midnight.
It sounds like you have conveyed the tone perfectly.
So, what made you choose this genre? I’m not sure if I chose the genre or if it chose me, but it seems to come naturally for me. It’s like choosing a genre that one loves to read. If it feels like a comfortable glove and you know it’s going to take you to great places, do it.
What’s the story behind your book title? “Twelve Strokes of Midnight” was chosen because there are a number of short stories; instead of each being called a chapter, I called them a stroke. In the case of my latest novel, “Dead Cell”, it’s a play on words around mobile phones (cell phones). It was either that or I could call it “Black Spot”. I had trouble deciding, so I put it to the members of my Facebook page at ChrisJohnsonAuthor, and “Dead Cell” won the vote.
What’s the basic plot of your “Dead Cell” book? “Dead Cell” is the first of a series revolving around Craig Ramsey (a psychic detective), Emily Fraser (a Scottish woman’s spirit from the Jacobite era only Craig can see), and Brianna Cogan (a detective-sergeant with the Queensland Police). Craig’s adopted daughter is killed in a traffic incident that is being written off as an accident by the police. But from a surviving witness’ words, Craig believes it was murder by a third party. The police don’t believe him because the whole incident was caught on the city’s camera network, and they could see no one else there. Brianna is the skeptical cop who believes he’s a grieving father off his rocker, but then they are forced together to form an alliance to find the killers.
Ooh…a psychic murder mystery. Sounds intriguing.
Which scene from your book do you like best and why? There are a number of scenes I like a lot, but I don’t like to create spoilers. But, from my beta-readers, the characters are made believable through their shared conflict and growing tensions. There are also a few light comedic parts thanks to the medical examiner who seems to be missing a sandwich from his picnic…
Which is your favourite character and why?
I never thought I had a favourite character from “Dead Cell”, but if I had to have one, I would say Emily Fraser. Although she’s a spirit, she can still interact with Craig Ramsey, and she often makes sassy or smart comments to him while he’s talking with people who can’t see her. It makes him seem lost and causes him some embarrassment when he is trying to converse with Detective-Sergeant Cogan who is attractive to him. Emily latches onto that, and I think she knows more about the connection than they do.
Haha. a cheeky ghost. I like that idea.
What are you working on now?
After “Dead Cell”, I’m taking a short break because my wife and I are expecting our first baby in early 2017. But my next project will be to finish a book related to my work as a mentalist and psychic entertainer. That’s probably the time I wish I had a pen name as this one is going to be non-fiction, and I don’t want it confused.
That’s exciting news for the new year. Best of luck with everything.
What do you do when you have writers’ block?
Take a break. If my muse needs a break, so do I. We all operate better when we are relaxed both mentally and physically, and I believe that goes for everything in life. Keep a balance.
How did you go about developing your cover artwork?
With a lot of hard work, persistence, and vision. Plus I use GIMP. Paintshop Pro used to be my tool of choice in design, but I find GIMP is a great tool, even if it is free.
Where do you see the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network in 5 years?
I believe the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network will be a good thing when it reaches its capacity. What I mean is: it needs everyone working together in co-operation to make it a real powerhouse of productive and creative talent. Participation is key, and those who fail to make excuses in supporting the network will succeed better than those who successfully create excuses.
*** Author Quick Quiz ***
Favourite food: I enjoy Italian food, chicken, and fish and chips.
Silliest saying: He who lives by the sword gets shot
Best holiday spot: Byron Bay
Favourite song at the moment: My favourite song at the moment is “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. Tomorrow, it might be something of The Beatles or even something classical with a modern beat. I have no particular favourite, but I am partial to Queen, The Corrs, and some 80’s music.
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? Both.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Both.
Best superpower: It’s a secret
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Live to see my first-born finish high school and, hopefully, attend university; she will be born in April 2017.
Well thank you, Chris. It’s been a pleasure probing your mind today. It’ll be interesting to see what you get up to next. Best wishes.
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com
*** Chris Johnson’s Author Links ***
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTziOKmue_U
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