I have had the greatest pleasure preparing for this interview, reading the authors blog and chatting back and forth with Mr. Johnson via twitter and facebook. Although he is extremely busy promoting his debut novel, he took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for me. I found Mr. Johnson to be as pleasant as he appears on his picture.
I had been anxiously awaiting the delivery of my own autographed copy of Mr. Johnson’s debut novel The Dark Province, Son of Duprin , when it arrived in the mail my husband quickly took it from my hand and started reading it. “This is really good.” he replied. I had to stop him from telling me all about it. I knew I should have ordered two copies. For now I have the pleasure of introducing you to iUniverse’s Rising Star Mr. William H. Johnson. Believe me when I tell you, you need to be reading this book!
1. When did you first begin writing?
My affair with creative writing began in High School, I would say. In the 11th grade. I wrote somewhat of a Job-ish short story called “Brenda” about a woman who lost everything she had only to get it all back in heaven. Around the same time I began writing poetry to explore and express the things I was going through at the time.
2. Who or what inspires you to write?
Everything and Everyone. My own personal experiences, current events. I’m a fairly emotional person and feel intensely about people and social issues. My own emotional reactions to what I see and hear drive my need to write and tell stories.
3. What are your writing habits? Do you write a certain amount of pages per day? Do you write at a certain time of day?
Great question. It depends on what stage of a project I’m in. If I’m in development, that is, journaling about a story idea, writing a general summary, or a chapter outline, I tend to just let it come. No formal schedules during development. If I am working on a manuscript, I will write in 3-4 hour blocks 3-5 times a week.
4. Are you a pantster or a plotter? Do you sit down at the computer and let your story lead you where it wants to go or do you outline every twist and plot point?
I’ve been both and I think both can serve the writer. I’ll go the panster route when I am writing more for me and less to create a polished piece to share. But if I’m working on a major project, I’m plotter all the way. With THE DARK PROVINCE, I wrote it out of order, in pencil, in spiral notebooks. Having a good outline allowed me that freedom. I could write the moments or explore the characters that were on my heart on any given day.
5. Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
I don’t have a favorite author. I enjoy different works for different reasons. I really enjoyed Caucasia by Danzy Senna and Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell a lot because they dealt with the social issue of race and integration’s legacy. Right now I’m reading The Murderer’s Daughter by Randy Susan Meyer and am enjoying it.
6. What are your goals as a writer?
Two answers come to mind on this one. As an indie author/publisher/businessman my goal is to build an audience that connects with my work such that I can remain devoted to my stories full time. But more importantly, as a writer/artist, I’m moved to write allegorical commentary on subjects I’m passionate about. The objective in sharing these ideas is to provoke thought and progress around these issues.
7. If you had one wish for your writing career what would it be?
To always be growing, learning, and improving my ability to connect with my work, reach readers, and be innovative with how I tell stories. Is that one thing or six? LOL
8. What advice would you give other aspiring writers, like me?
Be true to your dream. Why do you write? To heal? To connect? To share yourself? Know what you want from your work and what experience you wish to gain. Let yourself love that dream with all your heart. That love will give you the strength to overcome the challenges both on the artistic and the business side of the work.
9. Why did you choose to self publish versus traditional publishing?
I wanted to establish my voice as an artist and be in charge of the business end. I believe the artist and the businessperson can exist in one person. Indie publishing, just like indie filmmaking, offered me the opportunity to achieve these goals.
10. Do you have an agent?
Not at this time. I have an attorney who assists me in all of my contractual agreements where my artwork is involved.
11. Will you consider a traditional publisher in the future? Why or why not?
Sure. It’s business. If I felt that a traditional publisher could work with me and bring my work to the next level while maintaining the artistic direction I have set – and all the contractual details are to the liking of both parties then I am certainly open to such collaboration.
12. The Dark Province, Son of Duprin took you six years to complete, from conception to birth. Why after putting so much effort into this project, did you not seek publication with a major publishing house with multi-book contracts and the oft dreamed of six figure advance?.
Timing, as they say, is everything. I knew that when it was time for the baby to come it was time for the baby to come. I had the resources so I pulled the trigger. I chose not to wait on another organization to dictate the process.
13. On your blog you wrote about your mother saying that The Dark Province was your freedom piece. Do you feel freer emotionally, physically now that your dream is now a tangible reality?
I do. And at the same time I know I am just beginning the journey. I’m happy to have THE DARK PROVINCE in the hands of readers. And now even with it being complete it is still teaching me lessons about why it was so important that I write it and share with others.
14. Has your mother read the book yet, and if so what did she think of it?
She’s started reading it but she hasn’t completed it yet. So far she is enjoying it. I’m betting I’m going to hear about it when she gets to the racy parts, LOL.
15. Can you describe how you felt when the yet unpublished novel received the Rising Star and Editor Choice awards from iUniverse?
It was pretty cool. Very affirming. Funny, I got a letter from my editor and at times she sounded like Calvin Gooding. I could tell she’d just recently finished reading my work when she wrote the letter. It was also exciting because I knew that with those designations came tools that would help me better promote my novel.
16. You began your writing career writing screen and stage plays; will you be adapting The Dark Province, son of Duprin for the big screens of Hollywood?
I personally think THE DARK PROVINCE would make a fine movie, very provocative. I am interested in writing the adaptation but I’m also perhaps just as interested in having a more seasoned screenwriter do it. I would be interested to see what they’d come up with. This is another reason I went independent with this. As a person with experience producing and directing film projects, I wanted to influence this process even if I neither write the adaptation nor direct.
17. Your main character Calvin is trying to save his twin sister’s life and must turn away from his time honored traditions to do so. Have you also turned away from your religious traditions, relying on faith as your moral guide instead of religious institutions?
Absolutely. If not for my walk in faith this book would never have been born. Many of the things I learned from tradition I have maintained such as my core belief in the existence of God and the ability to come into relationship with Him, though I do not maintain the strict definitions I was indoctrinated with.
18. Will there be a sequel to The Dark Province?
Indeed, there will.
19. Where can someone purchase your books?
20. Having self published your debut novel, what methods of promotion are you using to get the word out and generate sales?
I am diversifying my portfolio in that area so to speak. I have a fan page on Facebook for the book and an author profile (www.facebook.com/AuthorWilliam). As well I am on Myspace, Youtube, and twitter. I am also doing a opt in e-mail campaign, a blog, Facebook ads, Library outreach campaign, Indie bookstore outreach campaign and Meet the author event in areas where I have concentrated contacts. That is just the first phase.
21. What projects are you working on now?
I am working on a few things right now. I have completed the first draft of the general summary for the follow-up book to THE DARK PROVINCE. This continues Calvin’s journey. I also have a tribute to a friend who passed in 2002 that I am developing about real life sainthood and having the courage to love. Then there is a small town coming of age story set in present time that is in the works. So I’m juggling three different things actively in development. When I have a chapter summary that I am happy with on any of them, I will dedicate the 4-6 month intensive to create the manuscript.