John has a captivating writing style that draws you into the story. He's led an interesting life and answered some great questions on this blog for us. Thanks JOHN! Great to have you here with us. :-)
Tell our readers a wee bit about yourself. What are 5 things you wished you’d done, have done or are still to do, on the Bucket List? J
1. I wish I’d gone to see my sister in
for our ninth wild vacation before she died.(She flew in from CA; I from VA.) She was single, richer, eight years older,
and she always sent me a $1000 check for expenses. There’s a moral here. You should almost never pass up opportunities
to see someone you love even if you don’t know they may soon die. Las Vegas
2. I wish I’d gone into the Navy at seventeen despite my father’s objections. What the hell, my whole life would have been different. Maybe good, maybe bad.
3. When I was 22, I hocked my law books, left law school, hopped a Greyhound bus one way from
to Ohio , a ride which lasted 38 hours. In New Orleans I slung hamburgers for a buck an hour and lived in an
eight dollar a week room trying to write the great American novel. I’m still trying to write it. New Orleans
4. My first published novel The Best Laugh Last is about a white English teacher in a Southern black college, and it cost me two teaching positions. If I had the choice whether to do it again, I’d do it again.
5. I want to finish the Inspector of the Cross series, wherever it takes me, and perhaps the stories/novels involving Sky Masterson. And maybe get back again to writing short stories, which seem to have dried up. Strange that the only series I’ve ever written would be in my seventies.
6. (A Bonus): I wish I had reached all those students I never reached.
Tell us about the genre you write, why do you love it and how did you get into it?
My main genre, not the only one, is science fiction or perhaps more accurately speculative fiction because it embraces the universe and all universes, all possibilities and all genres, including the one my interviewer writes. Man, is it ambitious, the ultimate umbrella genre. Yes, you can have m/m or intersex SF, too.
I sometimes say speculative fiction makes possible my two major themes or interests, which are the endless, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.
For sexual transformation, check out my novel Alien Dreams, where Captain Latimore changes into the giant alien Ragar and makes love to the great winged alien queen for ten thousand subjective years while changing bodies, orifices, and positions with her in the process. Go ahead, find that one in The Joy of Sex.
What’s your most favorite restaurant in the world? Where, why and the best dish/es they make?
I’m not a gourmet or a sophisticated diner. I like fast food restaurants. However, I have celiac disease and have to avoid gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley and therefore in bread, noodles, fried foods and the like.
One place I like is Golden Corral because I can roam among all the food islands. I love soups like clam chowder, broccoli cheese. Steak. At KFC I love its grilled chicken. If it’s done right, it’s heavenly. I’d like to eat fried chicken but I can’t. It’s filled with gluten. I love lobster and Lobster Newberg, but I haven’t had them in years. I love so many different foods really.
Remember those ads for Expedia (if not, just play along) that asked, ‘If you could go anywhere in the world, but have to go right now?’ Where would you have gone and would you have said to YES to right now? What pulls and entices you to that country?
because when I traveled there with my sister in 1994,
I was mesmerized by three cities: Italy , Rome ,
and Florence . I loved the
museums, the cathedrals, and the sites.
Heck, I wrote one of my best stories, which is about a mediocre art
teacher who visits the Sistine Chapel and has a vision that he is the
reincarnation of Michelangelo. Venice
It’s the timeless beauty and history of
which calls me, the artistic tradition and
heritage. They have cathedrals it took
them a thousand years to build while generations of men and generations of
governments rose and fell. Just walk in
some of those stupendous cathedrals and look up at the magnificent art and stained
glass windows. Walk in the museums. Italy
, I saw Michelangelo’s David, as beautiful as it was
the day he created it. As for Florence , what a preposterous city, as fanciful as those in
any of my stories. If you stray off the
beaten path, you have to walk on water.
What beautiful blown glass art of brilliant colors, what romantic
gondolas, and St. Mark’s Square. But it
would also be sad to return now that my sister’s gone. Venice
What parts of you, are incorporated into your characters?
Boy, Meg, this is a big question. In Turtan, the hero of my Inspector of the Cross series, I put a lot of my wish fulfillment, my desire to be heroic and larger than life. Also in a big way, I projected into him my desire to help people, to serve them. I am not a Christian, but Turtan is a self-effacing, self-sacrificing savior who despite his flaws and sinful ways has many parallels with Christ.
Another example: Johnny Roth in my YA novel The Merry-Go-Round Man is my alter ego in some ways. I gave him a similar name and put him in the school I used to attend though I never name it. Plus, I make him creative. He’s a painter, whereas I’m a writer. (Meg: I have read some of this book. It's excellent, very engaging. Great subject matter!)
Biggest example: David Newman, the rebel English teacher at the Southern black college in my first novel The Best Laugh Last is me. Or to be grammatically correct, he is I in many ways. It’s a whistle-blower of a novel. Though it was reviewed in newspapers, it never caught the attention of the national media. (Meg: And I would love to read this book, but apparently it's so controversial that John wouldn't republish it when it was offered! Just the type of book I want to read! Seriously.)
While many or most of my characters don’t contain parts of me, I like to think I have what John Keats called negative capability, which is the ability to identify and sympathize with all kinds of people, including those who are completely different from me.
Favorite male hero/public figure you admire in the world, dead or alive, and why?
I would have to say my father, for his scrupulous honesty and resolve always to say what he thought, regardless of the cost or consequences. He was a lawyer, and a fiercely truthful one. Once he had the nerve to tell a judge he would die for his dishonesty in the courtroom. And soon after, the man did!
When I was a small kid, I missed the first two strikes in a baseball game and gave the bat to another boy because I thought I’d just whiff the third pitch. Dad sternly told me never to do that again and always to try and never give up. He was a good teacher, and I’ve always tried to carry that lesson through life.
Favorite female heroine/public figure you admire in the world, dead or alive, and why?
First, my mother, who like my father was not a public figure. Like him, however, she cared deeply about her family and about being honest and true to herself. Many of my values and beliefs are derived from her.
I must mention Irene Sendler, the “female Schindler.” She died in 2008 at the age of 98. To quote from a source: “When the Germans finally caught her, the Roman Catholic social worker had managed to save 2,500 Jewish babies and toddlers from deportation to the concentration camps. . . . She was beaten, tortured and sentenced to death by the Gestapo - who even announced her execution. But Irena survived, her spirit unbroken, her secrets untold.” She was uncomfortable being called a heroine. Sendler said, "The term 'heroine' irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little." (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021048/Female-Schindler-Irena-Sendler-saved-2-500-Jewish-children-died-aged-98.html).
That last trait is shared with my epic hero Turtan. Please don’t praise him, give a speech or dinner in his honor, or sculpt a statue in his magnificent likeness. It embarrasses him and will piss him off. He exists only to serve, only to save. Anything else is not only irrelevant, it can be harmful bullshit.
Have you ever had a character just “do their own thing?” Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters? Or anything else odd happen?
Usually I’m in control, and they don’t talk back or barge out of the joint. But lately a fourteen-year-old girl named Sky Masterson gave me problems. You see, I’m a Pantser, and when Turtan and I first ran into her in Book II in a deep mine on the planet Lauren, I thought she was going to be just a bit character. A dirty-faced, malnourished kid. A great acrobat/juggler, a good fighter, but deficient in language skills and dying of cancer.
But she was so likeable, and I was so proud of her, and well, she grew on me. And just as bad, or good, she grew on Turtan, too. And in Book III in the series she surprised me by almost taking over and sharing the billing with my protagonist. If there were a movie marquee, she’d be right there beneath him.
Sky loves Her Inspector. And she surprised, bewitched, and completely won me over. Hell, she surprised the Jax, too. He’s the representative of God, the divine female spirit who reigns throughout the multiverse. I have the Jax appear in every novel of this series, and he tells Turtan that Sky surprised him, too. He never saw this girl coming, and he never dreamed there could be two champions in the universe. All this when Sky is only fifteen years old.
The problem is, it seems I devoted too many chapters to Sky’s story in Book III, and they took away from Turtan’s story. So I decided to delete most of her chapters. Over twenty-five thousand words, baby. But Sky’s still in there, and she continues into Book IV. I mentioned an idea to my editor Chris Speakman about a separate novel focusing on Sky on First Station from age fourteen to eighteen, presenting everything from her POV. Maybe a YA novel, and Chris is gung-ho about it. (Meg: What do we think readers? Hell yes. We love rogue characters. Please... please...please write it John. I'll sic Lea on you LOL. Chris just isn't scary enough. Sorry Chris! :-) Although she's currently threatening my beloved home state with snow. Little does she know, we welcome on Mauna Kea in the winter on the Big Island. :-))
I don’t know. It’s a great universe, but maybe I’ve got to get out of it. I do love Sky, though. Hell, just about everyone does, especially men. Like Turtan, Sky has transcendent abilities. But what’s an eighteen-year-old woman doing, giving all her love to a forty-eight-year-old man when he won’t even sleep with her because he considers her to be his daughter even though he desires her. Men. They’re so fucked up. You know they are, Meg. It’s a doomed relationship, isn’t it? Well, how would I know? I’m only the author, and I’m a pantser. (Meg: Oh for God's sake, just write the bloody thing John! LOL. And so say all of us.)
You know why this beautiful, exotic, deadly fighter of a warrior won’t settle for any other man, not even for a quick roll in the hay? C’mon, I’ll give you ten seconds to figure it out. Okay, the answer is . . . because Turtan is the best there is and the best there ever will be. It’s that simple. Most of us will “settle” or compromise, but not Sky. Never.
Anyway, Sky took over much of my narrative, and a large chunk of me hopes she doesn’t continue to hijack my keyboard and make me write a book or two focusing on her. But I wouldn’t bet on it, Meg. You see, I’ve had a real weak spot for women all my life, and Sky knows just how to get to a man.
What’s your passion in life?
Well, I’ve already mentioned women, and I won’t dwell on it. It tells you something that I make God feminine in my Inspector of the Cross series. I like guys, but I don’t want any God with a deeper voice or a scratchier beard than me.
My family is my passion, too. My wife. We have shared a path and a journey for a long time. Our children are my passion, too.
My writing is my passion. I want to get inside people and make them cry, laugh, feel better, inspired, and never forget what they’ve read. I want them to remember it long after I’m gone. Maybe me a little but more important, what I’ve written, my characters and words and stories. I try to hone and revise my writing, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction and make it as fine and polished as I can, as memorable and as perfect as possible.
What’s your writer’s routine? Do you write whenever or at certain times? Are you a pantser or plotter? Where do you like to write?
Basically I sit down in my den and bang away at my computer. No real schedule, especially since I retired three years ago, and in good weather tennis comes first in the morning. But when I’m inspired and the words are coming and I know where the story’s a-going, I go tap, tap, tap for hour after hour. And boy is it good. I have no regular, disciplined routine, though, and I write at scattered times.
I’m basically a pantser, and I wrote a darn good blog on this subject on my web site (www.johnrosenman.com). Just scroll down a ways. When I used to go to cons, some writers on panels were meticulous planners, even constructing outlines hundreds of pages long with elaborate character sketches. Others get by on a shoeshine and a smile. I like to make it up as I go along. In my just finished novel, Defender of the Flame, the conclusion of what I call “The Turtan Trilogy,” I did have the basic conclusion in mind and even the last couple of sentences written, which is rare for me.
Years ago, with Speaker of the Shakk, published by Mundania Press, I actually wrote out a complete outline and was proud of myself. But then I changed the novel so much, the outline was little more than a springboard into something else. Still, it was helpful, and in general I’d recommend that writers use them. It’s just I like the freedom of marching forth into the wilderness without a map and a compass.
If you could pick a past life, what time period would appeal to you and why? Would you be male or female? Rich or poor?
Male, probably neither rich or poor but somewhere in between so I could forge my own future. Females in general had it rough, limited freedoms even if they were rich or upper class. And there was always the possibility of complications or dying in childbirth. Besides, I like being a male. However, I might be tempted to experience sex and sensibility from a female’s perspective . . . if I could remember what it was like to be a man.
My favorite past time period: I’d like to come along as a young adult about 1950, the beginning of the Golden Age of Science Fiction before so many of the great stories and novels were written. Perhaps I could create some of the great stories myself. It’s not that there aren’t new stories to tell now; it’s just that so many of the classics have already been written.
CONTACT JOHN ON:
Web site: http: www.johnrosenman.com,
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