Saturday 23 March 2013

Author Interview – James R Johnson

Tell us a bit about your family. I grew up as a military brat.  My father was a weather forecaster in the Air Force.  He is the kind of man that keeps his thoughts to himself until he knows exactly what he wants to say and means exactly what he says.  He was a strict disciplinarian when I was growing up, which is a good thing.  I was a bit of a terror as a kid so I needed all the molding and shaping I could get.  My mother was a homemaker in those early years.  Never underestimate the power of a mother’s presence in the home 24/7.  I loved having that ear to listen to my day at school or share a spontaneous moment.  She eventually went to a small trade school while I was in high school.  She joined the workforce as a bookkeeper and loves working with numbers.  I suppose she would have to be a bookkeeper.  My sister is one of my best friends.  She is spicy and always an adventure to be around.  My family is predominately Irish and Swedish, but my sister seems to have gotten a double portion of the Irish.  She is feisty, confident, and no-nonsense.  I couldn’t ask for a better sibling.  And last but certainly not least, the love of my life, my beautiful wife Amanda.  We met as co-workers at an amusement park one summer.  I soon became her boss and it was laps around the desk for me!  No, seriously, it took a couple of years of good friendship to blossom into a romance.  That time as friends, getting to know each other’s stories, was instrumental in the success of our marriage.  We have been married almost eleven years and I look forward to many times that in the future.

What is your favorite quality about yourself? The quality I like the most about myself is my ability to empathize.  I have always had this knack to know what people were feeling, and sometimes why.  I turned into that friend that everyone felt comfortable talking to about their problems and issues.  Many times I would counsel my friends through their tough spots, other times I would just listen and understand.  Of course, this talent also lends itself to spotting lies.  Many a time I utilized that skill in dealing with salesmen.  It’s a good skill to have in buying a car!

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I wish I had a fashion sense!  My wardrobe for many years consisted of jeans and Dave Matthews Band tour t-shirts.  I hated wearing ties and button-up shirts.  And the worst was sweater vests.  Then my compassionate wife took pity on me and spent a great deal of time trying to teach me style, color coordination, shoe choice, etc.  It was so overwhelming!  We have worked out a system over the years.  She pairs items together and lets me know what I can and can’t wear together.  Yes, my wife dresses me.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “It’s nothing personal, Sonny.  It’s strictly business.”  This was said by Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, in the 1972 Best Picture Oscar winner, The Godfather.  If you can’t tell, I’m a huge movie nut.  This quote always stood out to me, because at this point in the film, Michael has thrown himself completely into the family business, which he worked so hard to stay out of.  Here he realizes that he needs to step up for his family, to do what is necessary to survive.  The implications of what Michael is saying carry the maturity of manhood, looking outside himself to satisfy the needs of those he cares about.  He does what is necessary.  He does what others can’t or won’t.  He becomes the go-to guy.  I admire those who take control and get the job done.  Of course the morality of this instance is questionable, but the motivation behind it is what I cling to.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? Wow.  There are so many things in my life that I can look back on and ask, “Did I do that”.  I’m not a big believer in regret, so I tend to find the best in any situation.  Especially those tough situations in life, I try to find something I can learn from and make me a better person for the next encounter.  But, if I must toot my horn a little, I would have to say that I am proudest on my accomplishments in the film and television industry.  I started out as an actor in an out-of-market area.  Gigs were tough and few.  So, I made my own gigs.  I got into writing my own scripts, producing my own films, directing my own crew and cast.  I heard a quote once, actually it was Billy Zane in Titanic, he said, “A real man makes his own luck”.  Well, his character was pompous and arrogant, but that line always stuck with me.  I’m definitely a person who tries to make things happen.

What is your favorite color? Believe it or not… Orange.  Followed closely by Pinstripe.  I know, that’s not a real color but what’s a Yankees fan to do??

What is your favorite food? I love anything Oriental.  Chinese, Japanese, it doesn’t matter.  My father was stationed in Japan for a few years and the cuisine stuck with the whole family.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? While there are many places I’d love to visit and see, there is nowhere on Earth quite like NYC!  New York City will always have a place in my heart as “home”.  Even now I hear New York State of Mind tripping in my mind’s ear.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My upbringing always fostered the creative spirit.  Between my father’s love of story and storytelling and my mother’s creative overdrive (crafts, writing, acting, painting, drawing, sculpting, cooking), there was not a deficiency in support.  I remember after I discovered acting in high school, I knew I had found my calling.  I told my parents that after I graduated I was going to fly out to Hollywood and make it big as a movie star.  I said I would give it two weeks and that should be plenty of time.  What did my parents do?  Encouraged me every step of the way.  I never did go to Hollywood, but the support never faded.  So when I decided to move from writing screenplays to novels, my parents were the first to read it and praise it.  But, of course, parents are supposed to stuff like that, right?

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Writing, like most of my other creative outlets, started as just that, an outlet.  I hated the routine of life.  School, homework, dinner, chores, bed.  How can anyone live like that?  I needed to create something.  It all started with erector sets and legos as a kid.  Then I moved on drawing and painting and sculpting and performing.  But writing was something that could be done anywhere with nothing but a pencil, paper, and time.  I could do it in class during lectures (I probably shouldn’t admit that…) or waiting in the doctor’s office.


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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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