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15 Jun

Starting in the jungles of Vietnam, let’s hear what Tom Johnson has to say with more than 50 years of experience…


JR: Tell us about yourself, and how would you describe yourself?

TJ: I’ll be 77 in July (2017), so reaching my twilight years. I began reading comic books at age 7, so I’ve been a reader for 70 years now, and still love reading good books.


JR: When did you first realise you want to be a writer? Who spotted that talent and what was the first thing you do knowing that?

TJ: While a military police supervisor in France during the early 1960s, during night shifts when my units were out on patrol, I would create story plots and characters. But it wasn’t until after a tour in the jungles of Vietnam in 1970 that I finally wrote the first two novels in the JUR series, about a couple lost in pre-dawn time with dinosaurs. Unfortunately, I was not a polished writer, so I quickly received rejection slips from some famous editors of the day.


JR: Do you have any formal education in creative writing? Do you think formal education in writing is necessary?

TJ: On job training for the most part. I did take many college courses while in the Army, but my studies were more job-related (in law and police work). I was well read, however, and the need for writing reports had always been a help to me. My wife and I also went into small press publishing for over 22 years, and were involved in editing and reading manuscripts.


JR: Are you a full-time author?

TJ: I’m retired, and write full time now.


JR: What made you decide to start writing something? What or who influences you?

TJ: There were many influences for me. Authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lloyd C. Douglas, H. Rider Haggard, Walter B. Gibson, Lester Dent, and many others. I was a voracious reader from an early age.


JR: What is the greatest lesson you have learned and/or greatest achievement you have reached as a writer?

TJ: That the road to success is a long one. My first novel wasn’t published until 1980, ten years after I began my climb up the ladder.


JR: Do you have habits in writing? Any specific time and/or place to write?

TJ: When I’m on a roll, the words flow and I take advantage of it. But if the words aren’t there, I don’t force myself to write. I relax with a good book until the juices start percolating again. Then I work in my room with no distractions.


JR: How long do you normally finish writing a book? What is the hardest part in the process?

TJ: I write novels in the 60k range, and write 1k or more a day, so can finish a book in 30 to 60 days. That’s the first draft. I then go over the manuscript several times for editing and flow before sending it to my editor.


JR: Do you have professional editors to furnish your books? If you do, any recommendation you would like to share to fellow authors?

TJ: Most of my books have gone through professional editing by my publishers. Although my wife and I also do some of the editing, we want a professional editor to look it over also.


JR: How do you think you have evolved creatively?

TJ: I originally had a good imagination, and just needed to learn the fine technique of writing, which I have over the years. I wrote newspaper columns and magazine articles throughout the 1970s, and since then, of course.


JR: Do you ever face Writer’s Block? If you do, how did you overcome the situation?

TJ: I touched on this above. When the words aren’t flowing, I relax with a good book and read.


JR: Do you have professional designer to design the cover and/or interior of your books? If you do, any recommendation you would like to share to fellow authors?

TJ: We are still in contact with many of our writers and artists from our publishing days, and help is always available if we need it. But, again, we rely on my publishers for most of this work. I have commissioned a few covers, however. One lady that I highly recommend is Teresa Tunaley. She had created several of my book covers.


JR: How do you involve in promoting your books? Any marketing technique you can share?

TJ: I use Blogs and FaceBook heavily, and have used Blog Tours a few times.


JR: Give your thoughts about traditional publishing Vs. self-publishing?

TJ: A lot of my friends have left traditional publishing for small press and, yes, even self-publishing. Some still work as writers-for-hire with the traditional publishers, but in recent years there has been a lot of conflict between authors and traditional publishers (the Big 5).


JR: How many books have you written (published and non-published)?

TJ: I have been published in over 80 books, consisting of novels, anthologies, and short story collections. Plus, some of my novels have been picked up published by numerous publishers over the years.


JR: What genre that you normally write, and what draws you to this genre? Do you always write in the same genre?

TJ: I write action and adventure stories. Whether in Westerns, Mysteries, or SF. It is the action I go for. I’ve written a little swashbuckling adventure also over the years, as well as Jungle and Greek mythology.


Pangaea: Eden's PlanetJR: Of all the books that you have written down, which book that you think the best one? And what do you think readers will find most appealing about this book? What’s the “real story” behind this book?

TJ: Authors think all their books are best, I’m sure (LOL). But let me say the one I have higher hopes for is PANGAEA: EDEN’S PLANET, a story about seven astronauts en route to Mars to set up a terra farming project. Their rocket ship goes through an anomaly in space that disables their ship and sends them back in time. They crash land back on Earth, but an Earth 250 million years in the past; a world ruled by giant lizards and violent geological forces. Now their mission is to survive. In the process two people will find love. She is black and he is white, and at first they resist, but love will win in the end. This book is coming off contract in a couple of weeks, and will be republished by FADING SHADOWS with a new cover. The new edition will not be ready until after June 20th.


The Man In The Black FedoraJR: Any other works in progress?

TJ: PANGAEA: EDEN’S PLANET is an older novel that has already been with several publishers. My most recent novel is a pulpy action read titled, THE MAN IN THE BLACK FEDORA, a crime novel with a team of vigilantes going after the bad guys. I think action readers will like this one.


JR: What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?

TJ: Never give up. It took me ten years to get my first book published after all those rejection slips in 1970, but things finally worked out for me. It will for you, too. And read, read, read. Learn the writing technique that you’ll need to succeed.


JR: How can readers discover more about you and your works?

TJ: They can find me here:

Webpage http://jur1.brinkster.net/index.html

FADING SHADOWS BLOG http://fadingshadowsbooks.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008MM81CM

FB Page https://www.facebook.com/tomginger.johnson


Tom Johnson