William H. Johnson

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

DARK PROVINCE Book Two is Underway!

In Dark Province Book Two, News, The Dark Province on July 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

The majority of the first fifteen four or five star reviews on Amazon mention or request a sequel:

“I look forward to my next visit to The Dark Province.” –Walko

“Thanks, William Johnson, for The Dark Province: Son of Duprin, and if you read this, please write a sequel.” –Gadget Girl

“I’ll be waiting.” –mimibimi “Ravenous Reader”

Who am I to say no to satisfied readers? A sequel to THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN is underway! It has been in its planning stages since before the first book’s release. I am proud to say that the yet titled DARK PROVINCE SEQUEL is out of initial development and in the process of being written.

It feels great to be working on a new manuscript. But more than that, its feels great to be back in the Dark Province universe; to look out across the still waters of the Great Sea, to meditate under the light of the Oron moon, to feel the warm humid air on my skin at the Port of Metwihn and to pull my coat close to guard from the chilled weather at the Jekkemi port at Dinamin. It’s great to be back.

THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN which has been described by some readers as a hybrid of fantasy and other genres will, in the sequel, descend deeper into the fantasy genre in terms of magical element and fierce fantastic creatures. Having been through the journey of awakening as Calvin Gooding breaks from the beliefs of his pasts, we will now be led into the throws of revolution. This all being done while maintaining the intimate style of the original novel.

I will be sharing this journey of creation on my blog along with tips and other reflections. I am grateful to you my readers for your support and enthusiasm of this book and the upcoming sequel. I am very much looking forward to delivering you another enjoyable read.

Centreville Author Discusses Inspiration (via The CENTRE VIEW)

In Press, The Dark Province on July 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

The following is an interview published in the April 22-28 edition of Clifton, Virginia’s CENTRE VIEW newspaper. Interviewed by Senitra McCombs.

***

Author William H. Johnson, Centreville native, talked about his debut novel “The Dark Province: Son of Duprin,” who motivates him and why he would like to have dinner with former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. Johnson will be talking about the novel as well as signing copies at Mei’s Asian Bistro, 434 Washington Boulevard in Arlington this coming Saturday, April 24, from 2-4 p.m.

What is your book about?

WJ: “The Dark Province: Son of Duprin” is an adult epic fantasy adventure, set in an originally created world. It follows the quest of Calvin Gooding, a man who is forced to deny the strict religion of his homeland to follow his faith into a forbidden country that to even enter is grounds for excommunication and condemnation. But it is his only hope to save his dying sister’s life.

How did you come up with the title? Does it have any symbolism?

WJ: “The Dark Province” is the name that Calvin’s people use when referring to the land across the sea to which they are forbidden to travel. The symbolism is from the Duprinite belief that going there brings out the darkness of your soul.

Are there any themes or an overall message you want readers to walk away from the book with?

WJ: To me, the primary literary theme is religion vs. faith. So often they’re spoken of together. But aren’t there times when a person has to choose one or the other? This doesn’t have to necessarily relate to the conventional definition of religion either. Any system of beliefs that founds a person’s worldview can count as religion. A time may come when one must choose between their loyalty to those beliefs and following a feeling that resonates deeply in their soul in order to proceed forward in life. In Calvin’s case, his decision is this: does he risk the damnation of his soul to save his sister’s life? Or does he bow to the demands of his cultural heritage and accept her fate and passage to the next world?

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

WJ: It started with musing on the duplicity of the public role of sex and intimacy in our culture. Sex’s public persona in our culture is one heavy with racial and ethnic stereotypes, hard-line moral judgments, and an ongoing stream of stories from the media about crippling abuses by people in power from our schools to our largest religious institutions — yet in private quarters it is about connection and a certain knowing of another person. We so often brand its mention as “dirty” or “inappropriate” and relate it to sort of a lower class of thinking. Meanwhile the most successful businesses use it to sell their products: movies, beer, fast food, cereal, and cell phones, to name a few. This duplicity fascinates me as an artist. I had a fairly strict religious upbringing and thought it would be interesting to juxtapose a very liberal sensual world with one of strict moral convictions.

How did you become an author? Was it a childhood dream?

WJ: I have been telling stories and writing them down since I was quite young but I would say it was high school when I realized how important writing was as a means of expression and exploration and what it could be for me. I’ve written screenplays, staged plays, and poetry. But when it came time to create a piece that I would point to as a true sample of my work, I wrote a novel. For me writing fiction has it all.

What was the hardest or difficult part of writing the novel?

WJ: Coming face to face with some of the difficult emotions it brought up. I really allowed myself the space to walk with this very flawed main character. As he was being challenged by his own fears and prejudices, so was I.

Where or who do you draw your inspiration from?

WJ: Everything and everyone from my own personal experiences about people and social issues; my own emotional reactions to what I see and hear drive my need to write and tell stories.

What’s your favorite spot in the area or do you have a favorite childhood memory?

WJ: I was born at Fairfax Hospital and lived my whole live in Chantilly and Clifton up until college. I would say my favorite spot is the stadium in Centreville High. Having participated in varsity football and track & field I have a lot of memories there. Also the Ruby Tuesdays in Centreville, I also have memories there with family and friends.

If you could have dinner with anyone famous who would it be and why?

WJ: Former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. He was always such a class act while being a respected and effective leader. I would enjoy talking to him about how he inspired the best out of so many people over such long span of time.

3 Myths About Writers Who “Plot”

In writing tips on July 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm

One of my favorite things to do is to join my fellow writers in online discussion groups such as LitChat, WriteChat, StoryCraft, and BookMarket. Occasionally the issue of who is a plotter or a panster comes up. More often than not, I find that the majority of the writers present are pansters.

Now its not like these differences in process play out like the east coast west coast rap wars of the 1990’s, but I often find myself concerned that those who plot or those who would plot for the betterment of their craft might be discouraged by the myths that seem automatically assumed by very vocal pansters. Here, then are my top 3 myths about plotters that need dispelling.

Plotting = overanalyzing.

An effective plotter simply breaks down the components of their work to develop them in separate pieces. I actually find it enjoyable because it takes what might otherwise be an overwhelming process and breaks it down to bite sized pieces. As well, it allows my passion to embrace each aspect of my work with the attention it deserves. The main thing I think plotters determine is a basic view of where the story begins, ends and what many of the potential major plot points are. An experienced plotter like an experienced film director knows that once you start “shooting” (or in our case writing a manuscript) improvisation is inevitable. An effective writer will discover better story beats and new characters as well as improvements to characters already created and willingly give over to those discoveries.

Working off an outline or summary is inorganic.

Novel’s are big documents. No summary or outline can tell the whole story. Let’s take the Mother Road for example, historic route 66. It’s an amazing cross country journey that took travelers from Chicago to Los Angeles and vice versa. If I were going to take a trip on the Mother Road, I can look on the map and get a basic view of where route 66 is, decide I’ll stop in Victorville, CA, Kingman, AZ. Gallup, NM, Oklahoma City, etc. But it won’t tell me exactly what time of night I’ll get there. The condition of the old motel I’ll stay in. The tiny old town full of private history that I’ll visit in between my stops. Or the regrets of the old man who sits outside the barber shop and watches the old clock in court square at the same time everyday. Plotters invite discoveries by giving themselves vast uncharted ground to cover.

Being a plotter doesn’t allow the characters and the story to take command of the work.

I more see it like the force. Luke Skywalker asks Obi Wan “Does the force tell you what to do?” and Obi Wan wisely says “Yes, and it also obeys your commands.” I think the same way of writing. When a story comes to me (or chooses me as some might say) it chooses me for a reason. I have something to offer it. Why else did it show up on my doorstep? For example, at the time THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN was conceived back in August 2003, many of its final components were missing. There was no Calvin, no Mari, no Gooding family at all. There was no Duprin. There wasn’t even a Tiyll or a great city of Metwihn. No theme of religion vs. faith. There was merely a small secluded town called Potsim where an ancient king dwelled with his servants. Open sensuality was the culture’s primary attribute and had I let those characters lead a manuscript then, it is likely that I would have written a full on erotica novel, and a wandering one at that. I wasn’t satisfied. Instead I spent time with the characters listening to them, writing freewrites, dialogues, scenes in stage play format. What they offered me was an original setting and set of characters with inspiring uniqueness. What I offered them was what I had to say as an artist. Together we developed the rest of the world and produced a summary we could all be satisfied with. Then the manuscript was written.

Hopefully this addresses some thoughts about plotters. A plotter can be organic, embrace discovery, give over to the mystical muse and see what happens just as pansters can come up with excellent plot points, beginnings and endings. It has been such a pleasure discussing books, business, and the craft with fellow motivated writers. Let the learning from one another continue!

Sincerely,

William the Proud Plotter 🙂

Three Questions for Indie Authors about Connecting with Readers

In Indie Publishing on July 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I posed three questions to indie authors in my last blog.  Their focus is on the topic of connecting with readers as opposed to marketing or book production. I was going to pose them during Friday June 25th’s #LitChat discussion on Twitter as part of the INDIE AUTHOR SHOWCASE. The hour flew by so quickly I never got the chance. I’d like to pose them here on my blog and invite discussion.

Q1: Are there ways that an indie author can deliver a satisfying reading experience better than a trad pub? If so, what are they?

My Answer: I believe so. An indie author can boldly defy the standard boundaries of genre to follow a specific vision for a specific story. One reader described THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN as a mix of three “themes.” She said its part fantasy, part religious fiction, and part erotica. I agree that all three of these elements have a significant presence while the literary theme of religion vs. faith is the primary engine that drives the story. In a standard market each of these subgenres have certain expectations. Marketing the book as any one of these individual elements could risk the creation of unrealistic expectations about the content. The promotional campaign then may require a more creative approach in which the author is more the face of the promotional campaign than is typical in today’s bookselling market. I don’t believe that a book must adhere to the sometimes narrow set of expectations, where it pertains to genre, in order to be a satisfying read. However, an indie author who is passionate and confident in their own unique work may be more motivated to overcome the obstacles of expectation and ultimately better deliver that read to booklovers.

Q2: In indie film, prod value is often sacrificed out of necessity. Does this happen in self pub and how does it affect the reader?

My Answer: I think this happens often to the detriment of the piece in the self pub world. Novels need developmental guidance that can come in the form of editorial evaluations, content editing, and proofreading. All of these services are best performed by professionals. There is generally a cost involved and at times the bulk of the cost of production. As well a compelling cover design, including back cover copy, is a critical part of providing the reader with the initial intrigue.  Finally, a good printing company is needed to bring interior design, exterior design, and the author’s words to life. Skimping on these elements, particularly editorial, can adversely affect reader experience. I recommend indie authors do ample research to educate themselves about the choices. Those choices are many, and making the best decisions on where to invest time and resources will maximize reader satisfaction.

Q3: What are people going through or have they gone through that your book or writing will speak to?

My Answer: This is an answer to consider at any point in the creation of the novel. It really depends on the author. Many authors find it very distracting to think about the reader while writing. This is fine. I wrote THE DARK PROVINCE for me, though as I wrote I did allow myself the space to think: Perhaps there are readers out there who can love this like I do for similar reasons. Once I had completed the book and started working on marketing plans, I allowed myself to step back and take a fresh look on what types of ideas my book spoke to. Other artists who were familiar with the piece in its early stages helped me talk out how this book might connect. I discovered that the central theme of the book was religion vs. faith which is a hot topic in how many people see the world. Even the most loyal churchgoers will now say “I’m spiritual, not religious.” What does this mean? And how does it translate to life’s choices? THE DARK PROVINCE associates faith with something deeper than religious tradition and then rakes its main character over the coals as his loyalties to those traditions come under intense fire as he attempts to follow that faith. I’ve been through this personally. I believe that there are others who have also in perhaps other aspects of their lives. I believe that my book speaks very personally to those people who find this issue personally relevant.

How would you answer these questions?