Inkwell Guest: SM Johnson
I have guest SM Johnson today. She writes a cool vampire trilogy with the first, DeVante’s Children, out May 1. She agreed to an interview, so sit back, relax, and read all about it!
I didn’t know I wanted to write novels until college, but I wrote terrible melancholy poetry throughout middle school and high school, most of them dedicated to a particular boy, and all infused with the dramatic sorrow of unrequited love. In high school I also wrote a couple of angsty short stories about teenage runaways and teenage suicide. They were all written in sappy passive voice, which probably explains why they weren’t very good.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Oh man… inspiration can come from anywhere. A scene from a movie, a snippet of a song – I mean, who hasn’t wanted to write a bi-polar love song based on the lyrics to Joshua Kadison’s “Jesse” – “Jesse, paint your picture of how it’s gonna be / you and I know better, you’re dreams are never free / tell me all about our little trailer by the sea / Jesse, you can always sell any dream to me…
But seriously – the muse is like a seagull. She usually drops a crappy story idea onto my head while I’m driving to work on autopilot. And then she flies off laughing, leaving me to sit in the chair and do all the real work.
What is the one writer’s tool you can’t live without?
All I need is something to write with and something to write on.
How many words/pages do you do in a day/week/month? And how do you keep yourself motivated to do them?
As many as possible! I can write 50,000 words in 30 days, which I do every November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month). But as far as an average, I couldn’t even guess. Some days I write, some I rewrite and edit my own work, and some days I spend giving feedback to other writers. My day job schedule is random, which makes my writing schedule random. Whatever I need to do, I somehow manage to get done. I recently wrote an 11,000 word short story called DeVante’s Curse. It took me about a week and a half, and desperately needs a re-write, but at least I got the bones down.
Whose work has influenced you the most?
Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton
DeVante’s Children is actually a rewrite/re-release by my paperback publisher, Queer Mojo, an imprint of Rebel Satori Press. This release will be both paperback and e-book. The book was originally released in electronic format by Torquere Press.
It was my husband’s idea. Seriously. When Anne Rice couldn’t write fast enough to satisfy my vampire craving, my husband suggested I write my own vampire novel. And so DeVante was born. And just about ten years after that, I finished the first draft of DeVante’s Children.
Tell us a little about the book. How about a blurb?
The book is about Daniel, a gay teen who grew up in a conservative northern Minnesota town. He’s freaked out about being “different” and does everything he can think of to pretend to be straight. The rest is pretty much in the blurb…
“Gay people are perverts.” That’s what eighteen year old Daniel Winthrop hears as his father kicks him out of the house. And even though Daniel knows his dad is being unreasonable, he has plenty of questions himself about being gay.
When Daniel’s first lover, Roderick, claims to be a vampire and attacks Daniel with such cruelty there could be no other explanation, Daniel realizes there are stranger things in the world than men who love men. Roderick insists that he loves Daniel, but refuses to change him, and Daniel learns his first lesson as an adult; where there is love, there can also be pain.
Enter Roderick’s creator, DeVante, whose personal code of ethics doesn’t allow enslaving mortals for either love or blood. DeVante reveals that Roderick’s vampire blood is poison to Daniel, and that Daniel must be changed or he will die.
When Daniel’s half-sister gets kidnapped, he enlists the talents of his new blood-drinking friends to find her. When he brings her home, he expects to become the family hero, but discovers sometimes you really can’t go home again.
Now Daniel must figure out who he is, what he wants, and if he’s willing to kill to survive.
I understand this is part of a series. Can you tell us a little about that?
DeVante’s Children is primarily a book about Daniel becoming a vampire, but it also begins an epic love story between the Vampire DeVante and a mortal woman, Emily, and introduces the characters of Tony and Lily. And of course, there’s a villain. There always has to be a villain.
I’m hoping to release the short story, DeVante’s Curse, in e-format only shortly after this edition of Children comes out. DeVante’s Curse explores DeVante’s deep background, his relationship with the villain, and a bit of how he came to be a man with a peculiar moral code.
The second full-length novel, DeVante’s Coven, explores Daniel’s journey as a young gay vampire in San Francisco. He makes some pretty interesting friends. DeVante releases Emily to live a human life. Roderick continues to make terrible decisions and gets into trouble with DeVante, which is par for the course. Tony and Lily are here as well, and a brand new villain. This book was released by Queer Mojo in 2009, and is available in paperback and scheduled to be available in e-format soon.
The third novel in the series is DeVante’s Choice, and finally Emily and DeVante are reunited. And thank goodness, because I missed them so much! Tony and Lily have many surprises for us, Roderick finds a new love, and the villain from DeVante’s Children gives us an encore. Reed and Daniel will let us see into their games a bit more, too.
What other things are you working on?
I have an erotic e-book with Torquere Press called Above the Dungeon. I’m working on a sequel tentatively called Out of the Dungeon. I’m hoping to collaborate with a friend on a futuristic book about religious hypocrisy and transformation called Assassin Jaxx. I have a handful of other stories in various stages of the writing process. Seems like there are never enough hours in a day to work on everything I want to.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I suppose I’d be a social worker checking an infinite number of boxes in an unending series of forms. Yikes!
What’s your favorite genre to read? What’s your favorite genre to write?
I like mysteries, psychological thrillers, mainstream, and I try to read a lot of what’s out there in the vampire/paranormal genre. When I’m sucked into a book, the whole day can pass me by unnoticed. I love Lee Child, John Sandford, Laurell K. Hamilton, Robert B. Parker, Sophie Kinsella, Harlan Coben, and I am loving the YA drama (um, no, not Harry Potter or Twilight) that’s out there. I’m a sucker for a good story, any day of the week.
Where can we find you online?
My main site is a blog site at http://smjbookteasers.blogspot.com
On Twitter I’m @devante9901
My facebook fan page is SM Johnson writes
You can also find links to twitter and facebook from my blog.
Thanks for coming by today! 🙂