Author Spotlight – Rosemary A. Johns
ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning fantasy author, music fanatic, and paranormal anti-hero addict. She writes sexy angels, savage vampires, and epic battles.
Rosemary is also a traditionally published short story writer. She studied history at Oxford University and ran her own theatre company. She’s always been a rebel…
Thanks for joining us today, Rosemary. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Firstly, thanks for having me on today!
I can’t read when I’m writing a first draft, so I dive into books on the editing stage! I love urban fantasy, so Steve McHugh’s “A Glimmer of Hope” had both magic and action.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
My main character in REBEL ANGELS, Violet, would love this question – she’s a gamer geek (and proud!). At one point, they end up having a battle with her equally fantasy loving angel’s gadgets: Hermione’s wand and a Game of Throne’s prop…
I’d be a Druid because firstly, I’ll be shapeshifting, and secondly… I’ll be casting spells. Magic is always epic! Oh, and I’d have a dagger…just like Violet’s shank.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
If I ever did find myself in a real monster-infested dungeon, unlike Violet, I’d be devoured in one leather jacketed mouthful. Luckily, I’m more likely to be found at my laptop.
I handwrite my notes; I have piles of pretty idea books. Then I type the first draft onto a laptop. For some reason, ideas flow best by hand, but I can type far faster than I can write.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
I wonder what those shrimps ever did to be damned…?
Most scenes I write in silence (I was a playwright, so I see everything like a movie happening in front of me and plot my books as ‘scenes’). I’m also a music fanatic, as well as a fantasy one, so many of my scenes have a soundtrack.
So, BLOOD DRAGONS was set in 1960s London, and I played songs from that era on loop, whilst I typed. REBEL ANGELS has Eels and Muse, for example, as well as punk music during scenes set in the Under World. If you read a band, then I was listening to that, whilst I wrote it!
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I write addictive fantasy and to do that, the entire series is plotted from the beginning. Then each book is outlined, each chapter, and each scene within the chapter. There are arcs for character, romance, and themes. My books are filled with action, but like the sea for which you have the diving suit, there’s a lot more going on underneath the surface.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Anime, manga, and non-western fantasy: there’s a nod to this in my VAMPIRE MAGE cover. I also grew up on fantasy and science fiction TV series, which at the time challenged norms, such as Buffy (plus, showed how vampires could be both scary and funny). I’m passionate about different mythologies and inventing new ways to twist these.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Kong: Skull Island! When I was a kid, I was seriously into the original monster movies. I don’t know how I missed Kong: Skull Island when it came out at the cinema (yeah, I do…I’d have been in my writing cave…), but I wanted to see if this one was more true to the spirit of the originals. No spoilers, but the movie was AWESOME!
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
You are a cruel, cruel interviewer… An extra day but I can’t WRITE!!! OK, I’d spend it with my family and watching all the boxed sets that I swear I’ll watch as soon as I’m not writing…
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Rebel here, yeah, we don’t censor!
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
Vampire God is the grand finale of REBEL ANGELS: my USA Today bestselling series about the epic battles between the angels and vampires. In the realm of the gods, the final game for the Crown has begun.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I’ve co-written plays and screenplays before, so co-writing a series with the right person would be great! I’d choose someone who understood my distinctive voice and was passionate about my work; in turn, I’d feel that their work stood for the same things: freedom, choice, and difference.
If I thought that the project was as exciting and thrilling as my other series, then I’d choose based on the project as well as the person.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most and least useful piece of advice is the same one: Write what you know.
I was told this as a kid to stop me writing fantasy and sci-fi because teachers didn’t understand the advice. None of us know what it’s like to discover that we’re suddenly not human, but we all know similar emotions to: abandonment, the relationship between fathers and daughters, trust issues, and what home means. They’re all in REBEL ANGELS because if writers draw on their own emotions, then what they write shines as truth. We all love and hurt. That’s writing what you know.
The vampires, angels, and magical castles is the sprinkle of imagination.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I’m British and I wrote Ruby in BLOOD DRAGONS as an Elizabethan vampire. I’d studied history at Oxford to Postgrad: my thesis was in Elizabethan and Jacobean history. Here’s where time travel falls down… I’d choose England, court of Queen Elizabeth.
Except, they wouldn’t understand me and I’d probably be burnt as a witch or shut in the dark as a madwoman.
But…if I could be invisible and simply spy…then I’m choosing that!
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
*Embarrassed cough* I have a couple of comedy impressions and skits that I run through. Enough said.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I write anti-heroes and rebels. I’ve always been fascinated by subversive culture and the redemption arc. Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights started my obsession with the misunderstood but charismatic anti-hero. But that’s not obscure… Russian literature had a big influence on me in this because it did it with humour, for example, Blugakov’s The Master and Margarita.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
I write epic battles, savage vampires, and snarky angels in my addictive USA Today bestselling fantasy series REBEL ANGELS and REBEL VAMPIRES. They contain badass anti-heroes on action-packed magical adventures and a supernatural world like you’ve never seen it before…
Want to know where it all started? Discover the REBEL ANGELS world here.
Thanks again for joining us today, Rosemary, and good luck with your latest release!
Thanks, it’s been fun!