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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Q and A with Author Eric Johnston

1. When did you start writing and why?

I have been writing my whole life. I wrote my first story when I was ten years old. It was about a group of kids in a haunted house. I was really into scary stories and completely obsessed with the horror genre—in fact, I would read nothing else.

I took a more ambitious approach to storytelling when I was in 8th grade when I wrote a story about a group of teenagers who were mourning the death of their favorite super model. They went to the cemetery where her body was laid to rest, held a séance, and did what they could to conjure up her spirit with hopes of seducing her.

I majored in History and English at University of Michigan, which really improved my writing and research skills. I have a broad knowledge base in American Literature and American History, which inspires my current writing projects.

In 2009, I began work on a novel with my friend Andrew Utley. This novel is not yet published, but it should be coming out sometime in 2012. It is titled Harvester: Ascension, and is a science fiction novel inspired by the inflammatory political rhetoric of the past few years.

I began my new novel, The Twins of Noremway Parish, shortly after completing Harvester. And I had a blast writing it.

2. Can you tell us a little about your book?

The Twins of Noremway Parish is a novel that takes place in the distant future. The world is run-down; the land is dry, parched, and dead, and there are only a few human settlements left in the world. There was a war with beings collectively known as the Darkness. They have one goal: bring chaos to the world. In the beginning, there is mention of a goddess named Moria who had departed Earth for reasons lost to history. This is a direct reference to Harvester: Ascension. When Moria left, it opened the door for the Darkness to come to Earth and destroy it.

There is one being from a group of god-like entities that had survived since the beginning of existence that attempts to restore order to this chaos. He is a Story Teller. These Story Tellers spin tales, making sense of all the disparate things around them, developing a cohesive narrative that has a certain elegance, a pristine order.

The Twins of Noremway Parish begins with the Story Teller narration, but he is soon captured by the Darkness who seek to use his powers to tell another story, one that will tear apart the fabric of the universe. The story changes, becoming dark, evil.

The Twins of Noremway Parish deals a lot with tradition and injustice. These people have their own religion, one that I made up, but it is an off-shoot of Christianity and Catholicism. I have borrowed phrases, titles, roles, and religious edicts from a variety of places to create something unique, yet familiar.

The story itself really follows the parish Friar, Decon Mangler, often referred to as “Brother Decon” and the Parochial Vicar, Teret Finley, known as “Sister Teret.” They are the male and female religious leaders of the parish, and being such must keep a certain innocence about them. When a pair of infant conjoined twins are found in the cathedral, they decide it would be best for the twins if they raised them as mother and father themsevles. This leads to a social uproar as it becomes clear that, to some within the parish, tradition, even a tradition that makes no sense, is more important than thinking about the actual well-being of these children.

3. Care to share a brief excerpt or line from your book?

We have our own story to tell.

—The Chaos of the Outer Dark

4. How many books have you written/published? Are currently working on any new ones now?

This is my first published novel, but I have written two others. Harvester: Ascension, which I listed above, the one I co-authored with Andrew Utley. I have also written the sequel to The Twins of Noremway Parish. That book is titled The Book of Ragas, and takes place eighteen years later when the twins are adults.

I am currently working on three novels. One is a science fiction story that explores the fundamentals of time itself. That one is called Temporal Winter. I am also working on one that explores the concept of the afterlife, called Orchard Hills. And I am currently working with Andrew Utley on the sequel to Harvester: Ascension, Harvester: Evolution.

5. Why did you pick the genre that you currently write in, and have you/are you ever going to try another genre?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. These are the genres I’m most familiar with. It’s what I read, and quite frankly, it’s probably the only thing I can write.

I am going to try some young adult fiction. I started a young adult story a few years ago to try to jump into the Vampire-craze market. It’s about Santa Claus becoming a vampire. And, as we all know, a vampire cannot enter your home without first being invited in. This fact makes delivering presents on Christmas Eve very frustrating when no one will wake up and answer their doors to let him in.

6. Who is your favorite writer, and why?

I absolutely love Stephen King. I think he has written some of the most brilliant material in the past forty years. Especially his Dark Tower series. I also really enjoy Chuck Paulaniuk, Jeff Lindsay, Ray Bradbury, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub.

On the non-fiction end of things, I really enjoy Joseph Ellis and David McCullough, two of the greatest wordsmiths of today.

7. Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it?

I’m going to cheat here and go with an entire series. The Dark Tower by Stephen King. It is an amazing series that explores a world that has moved on. The eerie connection with other worlds, one of them being ours, is staggering especially as the series progresses. It touches on many of other King works. For example, in The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, you find the characters at one point walking down a highway in a world wiped out by a flu referred to as “Captain Trips,” a direct reference to his novel The Stand. Also, King’s experimentation with meta-fiction in the last few books is top-notch.

8. Tell us a little about your creative process…

I usually think of a basic idea for a story and begin writing right away, focusing on creating characters that I want to take this journey with. If I don’t like my characters, I stop and work on something else, possibly never coming back to that particular story again. But if I fall in love with these people I create, I hand them the reigns to the story and let them tell it to me. I become the medium through which they tell their tale.

9. Where can readers find you or your books online?

They can find them on or at

10. What’s the best and worst experiences you’ve had as a writer?

The Best

Writing The Twins of Noremway Parish was the best time I have ever had writing something creatively. I love the characters so much. Every time I sat down to write, it was like I was visiting my friends. Like I was stepping back into their world and they were there waiting to tell me what they’d been doing while I was gone.

The Worst

Co-authoring a novel has to have been the most frustrating thing ever. I was laid off in the summer of 2010 when most of Harvester: Ascension was written, but Andy was working full-time. Having to sit on my hands, waiting to get the material back from him because he was working a lot, drove me nuts. We would just wrote what we felt, and let the story takes its own course with no clear outline, but in many cases, I ended up overshadowing his writing, because I just wrote much more. We got in many arguments about it, which has led to us using a different approach for the writing of Harvester: Evolution, in which we have the whole thing completely outlined, and we each have our assigned parts of the outline.

11. What’s your ultimate goal as a writer?

I want to change the world.

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