Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is John B. Rosenman, and I just turned 78 on April 16. Wow.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve lived for thirty-seven years in Virginia Beach, VA.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I earned my Ph.D. in English at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio in 1970. My focus was American literature. I’ve been married to Jane for 51 years and we have two children, Lori and David. Every Sunday during the football season David comes over and we watch the Redskins on TV. Even if they lose, we have a good time.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Well, I’m waiting for MuseItUp Publishing to send me the formatted version of Crash, the sixth novel in my Inspector of the Crossscifi / adventure series. Then I can proofread it and we can go to press. I’ve also found a beta reader for my scifi novel Dreamfarer, a book I first wrote nearly thirty years ago. In addition, I’m marketing stories and planning the next issue of mynewsletter.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written stories for about as far back as I can remember, but I didn’t always know what I wanted to be because in our society, there is no formal, practical profession such as Writer. Doctor and lawyer and teacher, maybe, but not Writer. Anyway, I can remember scribbling little tales as a small kid and later doing comic strips in crayon that told a story. Later, in my twenties, I made a formal commitment to be a writer, even though I would need a day job to support myself.
As for WHY I began writing, it’s always been deep within me, part of my psychic bedrock. I may not have always known where I’ was going in life (indeed, I’ve made my share of mistakes), but I’ve always known that good, bad, or indifferent, I am a writer. It’s always been a huge part of what I am, and I’ve always needed to express myself and invent stories from my imagination.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think it was during my first year in college when I was eighteen. I took a creative writing class and spent thirty-five straight days revising a story that my professor had critiqued. Finally, I went to his house at night and presented the story to him, seeking his praise and counsel. To this day, my wife and I quote part of his faint praise and laugh. My professor said the story was “interesting and admirable.”So, at this time, I was beginning to think of myself as a writer even though I was a political science major.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Hmmm. I completed a 120-page novel titled A Majority of One when I was teaching in Canada in the early 1970s, but I don’t consider it my first book. My first “serious” book was The Best Laugh Last, and it was about a white English professor in a small, historically black college. I wrote the novel partly as a tell-all book because educational conditions were so poor at the school and I wanted people to know.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Originally I titled the novel Down from Oz because it took place in the real, gritty, “fallen” world far down from the beautiful fantasy land of Oz. However, the publisher at Treacle Press (now McPherson & Co.) didn’t like the title. He felt the word “down” in the title was a downer and would discourage sales. He preferred The Best Laugh Last, which suggests that the strongest and most courageous will ultimately win and have the last laugh. Considering the events in the novel, the title can also be seen as ironic. Whatever the case, he saw the title as more positive. I argued and argued, but ultimately agreed.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m pretty unstructured. I don’t sit down and write at certain times. I do it when I want, often when an idea or plot is hot in my mind and I’m inspired. I do revise a lot, and I welcome good, hard criticism. As for my writing style…a high school teacher once told me when I was a teenager that it reminded her of Thomas Wolfe. Good company! But these days, I’m seldom poetic and overly descriptive, though I can be on occasion. I try to write clearly and say what I want to say in as few words as possible. Also, I’m a pantser rather than a plotter. I get ideas from unexpected places and make it up as I go along. Sometimes the journey is a continual surprise.
My major genre is science fiction and/or speculative fiction. There are many giants in this field, both present and past, and it’s a challenge to compete with them, to find a new theme or a new take on an old theme in territory that’s been so often chewed over. Besides that, the competition is stiff in other ways.For example, if I submit a story to a professional science-fiction magazine, it will have to compete with thousands of others, some written by people with famous names.Yes, indeed, the competition can be daunting.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My latest published book is Skyburst, and it takes place on a futuristic space station. So it is not realistic in some ways, though I try to make the characters as realistic as possible. My experiences are seldom based on specific people I know. I sometimes joke and tell someone, “I’m going to put you in my next book!” However, except for The Best Laugh Last and a few scattered cases, I haven’t done it. In Skyburst, Sky Masterson is a 15-year-old girl who’s in love with a man old enough to be her father. I’ve seen such situations and I draw from them, trying to capture what a young girl would feel.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, not much. After all, much of my fiction is speculative fiction that takes place on distant planets or in other realms. However, I was able to write some of my shorter fiction only because I traveled to a certain place. For example, because I visited Rome and the Sistine Chapel in 1994, I was able to write “A Spark from God’s Finger.” Three of my Nauru stories are based on my reading about Nauru, which I guess is a form of imaginative travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fortunately, I’ve had many great cover artists. Here are just a few, beginning with the artists for my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series, published by MuseItUp Publishing.
Inspector of the Cross – Delilah K. Stephans
Kingdom of the Jax – Kaytalin Platt
Defender of the Flame, Conqueror of the Stars, Skyburst – Charlotte Volnek
The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman (a 4 book set) – Lea Schizas, who also happens to be my publisher(MuseItUp Publishing).
A Senseless Act of Beauty, my most ambitious novel – David Dodd. Crossroad Press
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I admire heroes, and I believe that they sometimes turn up in the most unexpected people and in the most unexpected places. In Skyburst, a 14-year-old girl is dying of cancer. What chance could she possibly have to live, much less amount to anything? Like Turtan, the major hero of my series, she grows up to believe that selfless devotion to a cause is everything.
Besides that, I try to capture some of the mind-blowing wonders of the universe, which is filled with endless possibilities. That is, after all, why we call it “Speculative Fiction.”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My wife belongs to a readers group, and they are responsible for me reading some novels I never would have otherwise. Recently, I was really pulled in by Marilyn Simon Rothstein’s Lift and Separate and Husbands and Other Sharp Objects. They are about a woman whose husband of over thirty years has left her for another, much younger woman. Despite her pain, both novels are filled with delicious humor.
There are many writers I admire and it’s hard to choose. Robert Silverberg is at the top. I especially like the endless imagination and inventiveness in his short stories. To mention one more: Dan Simmons for his Hyperion Cantos.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The small, independent press. It wasn’t until 1982 that I discovered it. For the first time, I found markets for my short fiction and editors who were willing to critique my stories and help me revise and improve them for publication. In a way, it’s been an apprenticeship for nearly forty years.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’ve been doing it a long time and technically it’s not a career because I don’t make enough money. But to me, it’s a career. It’s what I do and have always done.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
At this point, no. I’m satisfied with the book. But if someone reviewed Skyburst and offered competent criticism, I might change my mind. I’m not a perfect writer and I’ve never written a perfect book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Skyburst, my latest, andDefender of the Flame are unique among my novels because they are two parts of the same story. In Skyburst, I try to present many of the same events that are in Defender of the Flame from Sky’s POV without making any mistakes. In one novel,Turtan is a 45-year-old man. In Skyburst, Sky is only 15. I had to constantly check back and forth between the books to get it right and consistent.
And I learned I could do it! Go ahead, dear readers. Read the two novels and see if I pulled it off without making any mistakes, such as having Sky travel somewhere with Turtan when the previous novel shows her at a party.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
This is a toughie, since I don’t know anyone who could convincingly play Sky, a 15 to 18-year-old girl. I love Jennifer Lawrence. She’d be great if she were younger. I’ve sometimes wondered who could play Turtan, the tall, biracial hero in my series. Denzel Washington is the best I can think of, but he’s too short and old. If you want to know what Turtan looks like, check the cover of Defender of the Flame.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. Find a good critique group that gives honest but not cruel criticism. Travel a little. As for reading—read good stuff, classics, and read widely. But read some bad stuff too so you will know the difference. Take a creative writing class or two from a good teacher.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Hmm, my first published novel The Best Laugh Last cost me two teaching jobs, one after the other. When I watch Jeopardy, I can always tell when the Daily Double is going to come on a split second before it does. My wife never believes me, though. As a writer, I’m filled with insecurities and sometimes feel depressed. I suppose many writers are similar. I don’t like being rejected, but if I believe in a story, I keep trying. I’ve sold some stories after they were rejected two dozen times.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Year’s Best SF 5, edited by David G. Hartwell and The Mammoth Book of Literary Anecdotes.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Men of Ironby Howard Pyle. My father gave it to me when I was a young boy, and it’s a coming-of-age story about a young squire who strives to become a knight and redeem his father’s honor.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at a lot of things. President Trump and political humor.Dirty jokes. Stephen Colbert and Saturday Night Live. Pickles and Doonesbury.
I don’t cry easily. Males are discouraged from showing emotion. I did cry at my father’s funeral, though I didn’t do it very well. What I felt inside was terrible, though; a vast, permanent loss. I’ve gotten more sentimental as I’ve aged, and I can respond to more things. There’s a video online about a little girl who lost a cat and then she enters a room and finds an adorable kitten. Her reaction gets me every time, especially when she looks up at her mother and pipes, “Can I keep him?”
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’m not a Christian, but I’d love to meet Jesus to see if he really was/is the son of God and mankind’s saviour. Of course, it takes faith to see that. My characters are often Christ figures even if they don’t know it—e.g., Turtan and Dax Rigby. Second choice: William Shakespeare. I have so many questions concerning him, especially why he left London and quit writing plays three years before his death. Was it because he was going blind?
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, playing tennis and reading science fiction and other genres. Talking to friends and fellow writers online.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Twilight Zone (original), Jeopardy, This is Us, The Fugitive (with Janssen).Many others.
Films: The Wizard of Oz, The War of the Worlds (1953 version), The Man From Earth, Cyrano de Bergerac (with Ferrer), Jesus Christ Superstar, Risen, many others.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love grilled chicken at KFC, grilled steak, clam chowder, onion soup, cheese broccoli soup. Mushroom Swiss hamburgers at Hardy’s, my wife’s garlic shrimp.
Blue, green, gold (as in golden daffodils), black.
I love a lot of songs of the forties, fifties, and sixties; good old Rock ‘n Roll; some Christian music; Beethoven; Adele.Pop music of all periods.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read, play tennis, and hopefully travel a little. I’d probably watch a lot more TV and do more repairs around the house.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live, how would you spend that time?
I’ve often thought I would spend it in debauchery or do some of the dangerous things I’ve been reluctant and too scared to do, like parachute from a plane or do a ski jump. No, skip the ski jump. I don’t want to break my legs and spend my last twelve hours in painful traction. What I’d probably do is spend my last hours with my wife and family. If I had any appetite, I’d eat all the gluten-filled things that my Celiac disease forbids to eat: fried chicken, pepperoni pizza at Costco, and so on.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I am now writing my best story.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes. My website is www.johnrosenman.com
and my blog is www.johnrosenman.blogspot.com
I also have a newsletter. Just go to my website to subscribe.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E
Here are some of my books:
The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman (4 book set)
The Turtan Trilogy (the first three books in my Inspector of the Cross series)
Inspector of the Cross (Book 1)
Kingdom of the Jax (Book 2)
Defender of the Flame (Book 3)
Conqueror of the Stars (Book 4)
Skyburst (Book 5)
The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes (Winner of Preditor’s and Editor’s SF/F Readers Poll)
A Senseless Act of Beauty
The Merry-Go-Round Man (Young Adult)
Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird