This month's guest author is Marc Johnson, author of the Passage of Hellsfire series. "For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace..." And a young village boy must master his power--and himself--before it's too late. Epic fantasy, a reluctant hero, a kick-ass princess and a smart-ass dragon--who could ask for more?
Marc has also offered to give away free books! (Authors rule!) He's offering a free print copy of Book 1 in the series, Catalyst (US entrants only) and a free e-copy of either Book 1 or Book 2, What Once Was One (worldwide). So scroll down to enter--reading Marc's entertaining interview as you go!
Welcome, Marc! Glad you could join us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Marc Johnson and I’m an author. Aside from writing, I also love to watch movies and TV and I probably do too much of both. I may also spend a little too much time talking to myself and answering my own questions out loud, not to mention glancing at an imaginary camera Eddie Murphy or Jim Halpert style.
What are three of your favorite things? Three of your least favorite things?
Three of my favorite things are: hot chocolate made with milk, a pocket knife, and Star Trek. Some of my least favorite things are: wet socks, a bad burrito, and girls who love bad boys.
When did you start writing? What inspired you to start writing your own stories?
I think I started writing when I was about 7 or 8. One of my earliest stories was basically The Adventures of Milo & Otis but with a turtle instead. I was inspired by my turtle running away. Long story.
What is the Passage of Hellsfire series about? How did you get the inspiration for the series?
I like to think of The Passage of Hellsfire as a coming of age, romantic series set in a fantasy world. It’s about growing up, learning to control your emotions and power, and falling in love.
It came to me in a dream when I was 13. Originally, I wrote a 30-page short story. For some strange reason, that didn’t satisfy me and I kept rewriting it a few times a year until it blossomed into a planned, six-book series.
What’s the hardest part of writing a book/being an author? What’s the most fun part?
The hardest part is editing. It’s so easy to bang out a manuscript but working it into something readable and enjoyable is bloody hard. Also, my editor is a real taskmaster. [Lauren laughs evilly in the background.]
The most fun part is escaping to another world that I created. The real world is so boring and I also feel like a god when I create a story. It’s a bit of an ego trip. And I have a big ego.
Why do you choose to write epic fantasy? Why do you think this genre appeals to readers?
I didn’t choose it. When I write stories, I have an idea and I write it. I don’t worry about pigeonholing it into a genre. I only worry about that when I try to market it.
That said, epic fantasy does appeal to me. I like stories that start out small but then the characters go on grand adventures to save the world. That may be why other people like them too.
Is there a book or a story that has had a profound impact on you at any time in your life? What was it, and how did it impact you?
I would say one of the books that had the most profound impact on me was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Even though I’ve always been good with money, this changed my financial mindset. I devoured a lot of financial books and shows after that. It made me understand why rich people are rich and I’ve continued to practice a proper financial skill set since then. Still poor though.
If your writing could have an impact on the lives of your readers (besides entertainment), how would you hope it would impact them?
I would hope that they could remember that fantasy stories were once fun and about ordinary characters doing extraordinary things or going on grand quests. That not all books have to be gritty, dark, or “realistic.”
Do you use an outline? Or just write the first draft “as it comes to you?” What other prewriting/story planning activities do you do, if any?
I’m all about outlining. I write my outline old school with a pen and a pad. I don’t necessarily write everything in the outline but I have to know where I’m going and hit certain beats.
Do you write your first drafts from page 1 through to the end, or do you jump around?
I write from beginning to end. I don’t understand the people that jump around. I could never work like that. Even though I have a chaotic mind, that’s too chaotic for me.
Besides your main characters, Hellsfire and Krystal, do you have a favorite character you’ve created? Which character is it, and why?
My favorite character is probably Cynder, the dragon. I’m a bit of a cynical, smartass in real life so when I write him, I get to project a lot of my personality into him.
What are some of your favorite words? (Syllabub? Xylophone? Whizbang? Taradiddle?)
Pootie tang, irrevocably, and futile.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to game. Board, card, video games, I love it all. Short of warfare, it’s the only way I can constantly test and challenge my mind. Plus, they’re fun and I love the competiveness of it. I even make co-op games competitive.
What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?
This is the one question I can’t answer. For whatever reason, people can’t seem to “get me.” This includes people that have known me for years. So I have no idea as I’m always surprising people.
If you had a genie that could grant wishes, what would you wish for?
Is there a correct answer besides more wishes? Being able to time travel would be nice but so would having my own spaceship. Then again, having the powers of a super saiyan would come in handy too. I guess it would depend on my mood at the time.
As a writer, what can we expect from you in the future?
More books in The Passage of Hellsfire series and various short stories that have nothing to do with that series, sprinkled between books.
How can readers get more information about you and your work?
And thanks for having me!
Thanks for coming! And now, happy readers, you can enter below to win a copy of one of Mark's books. Good luck!
__Lauren Sweet is the author of the Bitter Snow series, a modern fairy tale in nine novellas, and Aladdin's Samovar, the first of a series starring Amber Polaski and Jasper the genie. Lauren lives near Portland, Oregon, where she is a freelance writer and editor.