Back with Authors In Isolation! Got a new interview for you guys today with John Rosenman, who has aquired quite the awesome writing career. Come check him out!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hi, I’m a retired English professor who writes speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal (and one young adult). I’ve published a couple dozen books as well as two hundred and fifty stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. My novels include action-adventure scifi novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of Beauty, Alien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). I’ve also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman (MuseItUp Publishing). Recently I completed a science-fiction novel Dreamfarer which is the first in a new series. It will be published by Crossroad Press.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I’m a pantser and tend to make it up as I go along. Often it’s like I’m wandering in a fog and only gradually does the road ahead become visible to me. I may have an idea of the eventful conclusion but no clear, overall plan of how I’m going to get there. I used to walk through a local Barnes & Noble that I found particularly conducive to inspiration and sometimes the slightest thing there would suddenly spark a story. For example, I saw a book titled The Calm Technique and instantly a story leaped almost full-blown into my head. The Death Technique is about a man who has the gruesome ability to make his body rot and resemble a corpse. I sold it to a pro anthology.
Tell the world about your current project!
There are two: I’m awaiting publication of Crash, book six in my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series. This time I change the rules of the game for my protagonist. Poor Inspector Turtan, his ship crashes on a distant planet. He barely survives and his face is destroyed, forcing doctors to give him a new one. On top of that, the guy has amnesia and doesn’t even know who he is. But he’d better remember fast!
I’m also writing Go East, Young Man, the second novel in my Dreamfarer series. The year is 2170 and almost everybody exercises their option and is placed in a dream box or Cerebral Interface Unit when they are thirty-two years old so they can dream wonderful dreams of their choice for the rest of their life. One man, Sam Adams, continues to fight the insidious dream industry because he believes it robs life of its meaning.
Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!
Sam Adams of Dreamfarer wakes up after seven years in a Dream box to discover that he is a Waker and can never go back to his wonderful dreams. As with other Wakers, the adjustment is hard. Electronically-induced dreams are supremely addictive, and he could commit suicide or become a Wrecker, someone who seeks to destroy society. Instead, Sam comes to question the dream centers themselves and joins a movement to abolish them. He also has a couple of romances along the way and a lot of adventures.
Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!
I used to go to quite a few: Necon, Sci-Con, World Horror Con, etc. My favorite was Sci-Con, which was local. I was a member of several panels and enjoyed the interplay and sharing of perspectives with fellow writers. I recall one night at Sci-Con when my friends and I searched for the ultimate beer keg or drink machine at a local hotel. We canvassed all the floors and went to at least a dozen parties, entering and leaving hotel rooms in our inspired, inebriated quest.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It seems I always scribbled and made up stories before I even formed the concept of being a writer. I remember when I was a small boy and used crayons to design crude cartoon panels that told a story. Later, about ten or so, I started to write a western about Jeff Stancher. It was called The Twisted Years. By then, I realized hazily that I was being a writer. However, for a long time it was an impractical interest. As my father would remind me, I couldn’t make a living at it. By the time I reached the eleventh grade, though, I had a clear view of myself as a potential writer and showed my work to an English teacher.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Perhaps Italy or Nigeria. I visited Italy briefly in 1994 and wrote a short story that took place in Rome. Nigeria, though, might come first as I’ve written stories that took place there both in the past and present. My novel A Senseless Act of Beauty begins in a futuristic Nigeria and contains a story that occurred there in the past.
What advice would you give new writers?
Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. If possible, join a good writers’ group where expert criticism and critiques are supplied on a regular basis. Analyze everything. If a work of creative fiction astonishes you, try to identify some of the elements that make it work. Read critical articles discussing them and take a course or two in creative writing.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding?
Mike Resnick’s novels and books about Africa inspired me to write stories about Africa and my novel A Senseless Act of Beauty. Some of his works like Kirinyaga and Ivory are at the top of the list. Kirinyaga presents a futuristic Kikuyu nation located in a terraformed planetoid or space station. How cool is that?
There are so many examples I could mention here. One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz, which presents an imaginary world. This world has haunted and inspired me all my life, and I’ve inserted elements of it into my fiction time and again.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve become addicted to it and can’t stop. It’s a lifelong habit, and sometimes it’s fun
and wonderful. I want to harvest all the crops that grow in my mind and imagination
and go as far as I can, write the best stories and novels that I am capable of. I want
people to buy and read my books, and I want to be remembered and to inspire other
writers after I’m gone.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
To begin with, REJECTION. Sometimes endless rejection. You have to take all the blows of being turned down and even critically eviscerated, and move on. You have to overcome depression and the feeling that you’re no damned good.
As I’ve gotten old, my imagination is not as fruitful and easy as it used to be. It’s harder to come up with new and different ideas.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
Routine? What’s a routine? I usually write when I want to. However, I made it a point to get up this morning and finish answering these questions, so that’s a little bit of a routine. When I was employed, I did have to write more at night, but in general, I don’t have a set time when I sit down to scribble or a fixed amount of time I must do it.
Why don’t I follow a routine? Boy, that’s a good question. I find that if I’m excited by a project, I manage to get the work down. I will sit down and plow forward. I just won’t watch the clock while I’m doing it. I suppose following a routine is not in my DNA, or I’m just lazy in that way. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m a pantser and make my schedule up as I go along.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in any of your books, and why?
Two come to mind.
In chapter twenty of Dax Rigby, War Correspondent, Dax saves the life of the woman he loves by sheer will. The chapter is called “Avatar,” and Dax has a transcendent epiphany. He realizes that he is an incarnation of God, a child of the divine universe. I have somewhat different spiritual inclinations, and this chapter really connects with me. Read it and see if you agree. https://amzn.to/3aNBn1O
In The Merry-Go-Round Man, my Young Adult novel, Johnny Roth has two great innate gifts. He can be an unbeatable boxer and a sublime expressionistic painter. The chapter where Johnny steps into the ring and faces Jason Wardlow continues to have a powerful effect on me. Like Dax Rigby, Johnny experiences a great awakening as to his abilities. It’s available both on print and in audio.
Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?
My latest completed book was Dreamfarer, and I’m currently writing a sequel called Go East, Young Man. One thing I’ve had to learn is geography and local features. Dreamfarer takes place in San Francisco and the surrounding area, so I’ve had to do some research. For example, how long and wide is the Golden Gate Bridge? Go East, Young Man features a hero who travels through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Though it takes place 150 years in the future, I still have to check such things as routes and terrain. If I don’t, I’ll make mistakes and readers will call me on it.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I answer this above. Here it is again: I’m a pantser, a gardener. However, I did plot one novel, Speaker of the Shakk. Plotting it, devising a rough outline actually helped. But then I found while writing the novel that I had to change so darn much. I had to break free. I find it an adventure to make it up as I go along and to see what happens when I turn the next corner. It comes with risks, though. When I turn the next corner, I may not know where to go or what to do.
If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?
You know, I don’t snack, drink, or listen to music during my writing sessions, so I don’t think either one would affect me. I know, bad answer! Oh, wait. I love coffee, and sometimes I drink it when writing. I need my caffeine fix, morning or afternoon joe. So coffee would be the hardest for me to wave goodbye to.
Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?
I like all seasons, but perhaps winter is the best because I’m less physically active, especially with tennis. As a result I stay inside and write more. However, I’m scribbling along pretty well right now.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
The poet John Keats wrote about negative capability, which is the ability to set your own personality aside and step into the hearts and minds of others. Admittedly, the process is hard and success is seldom complete. Still, I’ve been able to write about women, Africans, African-Americans, children and so on. In my novel Skyburst, I write about a girl from the age of 14 to 18. No matter how hard I try, I will never be a young girl, but I find that if I ask myself certain questions, I can “fake” it. What would a fifteen or eighteen-year-old girl do in this situation or that? How would she respond to her first period, especially if she had never been forewarned about it? In such situations, common sense and sympathy help. How can I understand a young black boy who runs into vicious racism? Well, when I was young, I had just such a friend, so I can definitely relate, at least partly. Empathy goes a long way. If you don’t have it, you’re likely to fail as a writer.
What are your future project(s)?
Right now I’m writing the sequel to Dreamfarer, which will be published by Crossroad Press. Go West, Young Man deals with the further adventures of Sam Adams, an American rebel in the year 2170. If you could dream the rest of your life away, enjoying dreams scientifically designed to make you most happy, would you do it? Or would you choose to be awake in an often prosaic reality? Sam Adams has chosen to oppose the Dream Industry, and he is willing to give his life if necessary.
Other than that, I’d like to write more short stories. There are tantalizing markets around, some of which have previously published me, and short stories take less time and often provide a more immediate reward.
What is your favorite book ever written?
I loved the first three novels in the Game of Thrones series. Also, Mike Resnick’s Kirinyaga, and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos.
Who are your favorite authors?
Robert Silverberg, Stephen King, Mike Resnick, Octavia E. Butler, Dan Simmons, Dean Koontz, etc.
What makes a good villain?
An indispensable quality is mystery. You don’t know why they’re so bad. Consider the original Hannibal Lector. You didn’t know why he was so evil. Did he have a troubled, abusive childhood or was he just born that way? Then came a sequel, Hannibal, which explained things. I didn’t want the explanation. Please keep the mystery. Another quality is that a good villain projects. He has a sinister power. Think of Anthony Hopkins in the role. Enough said.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read a lot and play plenty of tennis. I love some TV series, such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Outlander, Dateline, etc. I have a large library of films, especially scifi /horror flicks of the fifties. The War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing and so on. The other day I went swimming in the bay and got knocked off my feet when I walked ashore.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
As a child, I wanted to be an opera star. There was only one problem: I couldn’t sing!
I was an English professor at universities for many years, and I enjoyed it. I play a lot of tennis. I’d like to be much better and play professionally. Too bad I’m 79 years old.
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
Coffee, please. Definitely coffee. I’ll take it black with too much sugar. I also like white wine, bourbon and ginger ale, and margaritas. I’ll try anything once.
You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
If I could travel down a black hole without screwing up my mind, I’d do it. I’d like to visit Mars and Saturn, the beautiful ringed planet. There are a few planets somewhat like Earth in the universe and I’d like to visit each one to see if they support life and if so, what kind.
Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?
I have a blog myself but don’t follow others much. Maybe I’ll start doing that.
Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Yes, there is I. J. Parker, the author of twenty novels about Akitada, a twelfth century Japanese detective. Her latest is Massacre at Shirakawa. Also, Dr. Robert G. Williscroft, a retired nuclear submarine officer who has lived an exciting life serving his country. He’s the author of The Starship Compact, Icicle: A Tensor Matrix, and many others. Check out both authors’ books on Amazon and elsewhere.
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Actually, in my current series, the hero has three sidekicks on his road trip. Isn’t that amazing? But I can’t use them.
Let me see. First, I’d pick Koontz’s Odd Thomas because of his paranormal abilities to see into the nature of events and shape the future. Then comes Superman because of his super abilities, but he’d have to ditch his flashy uniform and dress like any other guy. On second thought, make him Superboy like in the series Smallville so he doesn’t look so imposing. Finally, I’d pick Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Why? C’mon, I’m a guy and I have to have a girl along, even though I’m waaaay too old for her. I really liked the first novel in the series and the first movie.
She has so much initiative, courage, and is willing to sacrifice herself for her younger sister.
We travel to the top of the 18,000 foot high Mount Cotopaxi volcano located in the Andes, South America. Why the hell would we want to do this? To stop the evil world crime syndicate (or something like that) from releasing its special gas that will enslave humanity by stripping their will. Along the way, our heroes meet many challenges. Finally, when they get to the summit, Superman finds the volcano’s walls are full of kryptonite. Need I go on?
What superpower would you most like?
Super strength. I could lift any weight, beat any bully up, and be a champion boxer or athlete. Hmm, it would be nice if speed and coordination went with it. ☺
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
Two of my favorites are those for short story collections by Dark Owl Publishing. A Celebration of Storytelling features a shiny, open book with its pages fanned out. I have a story in it. The other will be an edgy collection of westerns and is called Something Wicked This Way Rides. The cover shows an animal’s skull fastened on a bare, upright branch. Both covers are striking and unforgettable.
It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?
I’d like to stop wearing a facemask and take my wife out to Wendy’s, Hardy’s, and perhaps a decent restaurant. I’d like to resume workouts at my local recreation center. I’d like to take Jane to see a Tides baseball game at the stadium.
Finally, what is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
All of the above, but especially my website and Facebook page. Here are some links:
Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl
Facebook Home Page: http://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E