Monday, November 28, 2016

Author Interview: Christopher Johnson: Author of Seven Days Dead

Christopher Johnson is a former United States Marine Sergeant who lives in New Jersey with his three sons.  A fully disabled veteran, he enjoys writing in fiction, specifically scifi, and nonfiction religious anthropology.  He has held a variety of jobs from night auditor at a hotel to Financial Advisor, has dabbled in amateur blacksmithing, and has a real thing for zombies.  You can see his work, as well as get updates on forthcoming books, at his website:

Seven Days Dead 
   Tal Barzani, Mizrahi Jew, former IDF operator, and confirmed drunk wakes up to find his city in flames. As Jerusalem burns, he accidentally saves a ragtag group of people already on the jagged edge of survival. Will they escape the City of David alive? Can Tal keep his group together long enough to find safe harbor? Or will it become a three way race between the undead, their own prejudices, and the desert to see which kills them first?  
   Follow the survivors through the rich landscapes and beautiful history of the Levant as they work to survive in this new and frightening world. All cities, names, historical sites, military units and more are represented with as much accuracy as possible to ensure an experience that will pull you in...and never let go

Who are your influences?
I've had quite a few over the years. When I was younger David Eddings was a favorite author of mine for the way he could weave a grand and complex universe. More recently I've been drawn to George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie (one of my absolute favorites), and Patrick Rothfuss.

When did you begin writing?
I first started writing when I was in 10th grade, I believe. I had an assignment from my history teacher to come up with a myth for some natural occurrence or another - I think it was the changing of the seasons. So I wrote up my myth and got an A+++ (my first…and only). He spoke to me afterwards and told me that I should look into being a writer because of the quality of that one assignment. After that, I tried starting several times and wrote some smaller and more niche works, but time was always a commodity that I had little of.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
Honestly, I just kind of do my regular routine and every now and again something pops in my head. I'll say, "what if I made this…" or "I'm so tired of this particular kind of coincidence always saving the characters in these books. This is how I would have written it…" After a while, the details start filling themselves in and I can't stop thinking about it until I get it on paper.

Do you work from an outline?
I haven't ever used an outline. I kind of write where the story takes me and allow the characters to grow organically. I honestly have little patience with outlines, and I feel that if you script the details too much, you run the risk of diverting the story line to fit the outline and that can derail the experience for some readers. I want the reader to feel like he or she is in the story, like an unspoken character and the smallest things can pull them out of the experience.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
I really liked the scene from the monastery where Levi's issues come to a head. I wanted there to be conflict there, but one that made sense from the back story and the known cultural differences of the characters involved. I thought that it closed up that part of the story nicely and provided the impetus for the group to move from a safe area without feeling like the confrontation was forced.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I don't really have a philosophy, per se. I want my readers to believe the story is possible and plausible. I want them to see themselves making the same decisions if they were in that position. I also want them to have an adventure. When I was younger, I devoured books because the stories in them played out in my head like movies and I want that same experience for anyone who reads anything I've written.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I also enjoy writing about religion and religious anthropology. For me the separation of Faith and Fact has always intrigued me - especially because anyone can see how much effect belief has on our cultural outlook and the history of our world.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
No real anecdote, but I will say for writers looking to put their work on Kindle to be very careful how you format your work. I wrote a book that had a plethora of footnotes and, on Kindle, they appear in red type. Well I guess one of my footnotes must have been too close to the text and the next three paragraphs of the book were all in red type.

 Available in paperback or for the Kindle.

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