Author Interview: C. S. Johnson

Author Interview  For the book review go here.

Can you give me a Synopsis of Your Book?

“Slumbering” is the first book in my epic (not just awesome but the literal epic) novel series. It follows the story of Hamilton Dinger, who is a cynical narcissistic but charismatic and talented teenager, who insists he leads a ‘perfect’ life (so he says!) Hamilton finds out after a strange meteorite crashes into his town he has supernatural abilities, which he must use to protect his city from danger. He is reluctant to do so, however, knowing if he does, the control he has on his life will likely vanish. Along with the evil Seven Deadly Sinisters, and their leader, Hamilton finds himself in the company of Starry Knight, a beautiful warrior with a deadly bow and arrow, and Elysian, a changeling dragon who breaths celestial fire. It quickly becomes apparent the self-sufficient Starry Knight views Hamilton as a nuisance, and Elysian is more a hindrance than a help, as he asserts himself into the position of Hamilton’s ‘mentor.’

What is the primary theme of your book?

The main theme is about belief. There are ideas and events in our lives which define us, but we can just as easily define them on our own terms. Hamilton, determined to follow the life he has chosen for himself – which includes finding a girlfriend who is ‘a good fit’ for him and his life, gaining recognition for his athleticism, and graduating at the top of his class and eventually becoming a successful government worker – doesn’t want to believe there is anything better for him than what he has planned out. So when something supernatural does happen to him, he is anything but happy. Much of the book seems to focus on his origins as a ‘superhero,’ but it actually is more concerned with his moral development and his gradual acceptance of truth. He goes from wondering if he is insane, to forced ignorance, to denial, to wondering if he is physically unwell, to being paranoid, irritated, and constantly inconvenienced by the new truth in his life. Needless to say this makes for some very funny scenes and relatable reading, but it is really only funny because it is true of us as well.

What drove you to write this book?

A complicated amount of incidents, really. ‘Wingdinger,’ Hamilton’s superhero name, sparked the character idea; a stirring debate over morality and religion set the stage for his cynicism, and my own self-reflective identification with the character’s simultaneous disdain and yearning for a true surprise lent itself to the plot. High school memories, both pushed away and held close, provided a starting stage. Life inspired the true love despite pride.

What is your writing process?

Fru-fru coffee, write, go back and edit, write some more, wash, rinse, repeat, read it completely, take half of it out, change the tense, change it again, get reluctant husband and/or other victim to read it, try to determine how ‘nice’ the reviewer is being vs. how truthful, go back, read, think “This is great! I can’t believe I wrote this,” submit to whoever or whatever I am writing for, read it again, get depressed, more coffee, lots of hoping and praying and trying not to go crazy, read other books, think, “My book is WAY better than THAT,” then pray to ask God for forgiveness for being so proud because of secret fear I will lose my writing ability if I get too cocky, see the reception of my writing, see all the good, and feel like I just conquered the world within myself, and see the one bad remark and feel like the world just collapsed…talk to my mother and then begin again.

You self-published through Westbow Press. Why did you choose this publication path? Can you share the pros and cons of self-publication?

I actually submitted my manuscript through the 2012 Munce Manuscript competition. I won 2nd place, which won publication though WestBow (I was aiming for the grand prize, which was publication through Thomas Nelson. I am still hoping they call me up and offer 2.4 million for the complete series) I chose the publication here because I didn’t have to pay for it, which is the major con of self-publishing. The pros of self-publishing are just that you can write, design, and market your book your own way; these are things which depend on your purpose and goals for writing. Personally, I see writing as both a necessity and an indulgence. I need it, and I need it to matter. And the WestBow team assured me, out of the 250+ manuscripts, mine was really great.

If you were to re-write your book or edit anything in the published version what would you change?

I don’t think I would really change anything. Some of my reviewers have told me Hamilton is a bit over the top, but I know people (including myself) who act a lot like him. The major difference is you can read his thoughts, and see how proud and cynical and conflicted he is, but you do start championing for him in the end. Others have told me the dialogue sounds a bit forced, but I can only say the teenage years require a lot of that. So does adulthood if you haven’t gotten it all out of your system! There is also a lot of extra curricular events, including sports and drama which people said didn’t seem to be needed quite so much, but I secretly laugh at them. There are very important and intentional reasons I included what I did, and a lot has to do with the series itself as it unfolds. I insist on keeping my writing realistic, even though I am writing fantasy, and ‘real’ life goes on even if the world is ending. Besides, the first time Hamilton meets someone like Starry Knight, do you really think he is going to pay the ‘proper amount’ of attention? No, he will walk right by her several times, maybe looking at her but never truly seeing her.

Do you have more books in the works?

There is a whole series in front of Hamilton and company with “The Starlight Chronicles.” I am hoping to get book 2 finished by the end of next year, though possibly sooner. I have an interim short story for the series coming out in anthology soon, which I call the Christmas episode. I also have my debut adult fiction work, “Soul Descent,” out for judgment on The Next Novelist (via and I have a new trilogy in the works that is much more sci-fi and much less satire than “Slumbering.” I also have a couple of good ideas for stories that I need to research.

Is there any one thing you would like to share with readers?

The books I write are much more than paper and glue splattered with silly ink patterns. They are my brainchildren, the making-real of the worlds I have escaped to when chased by pain, teasing, and heartbreak. To you, $3.99 for the ebook might seem like a lot, but I could never put a true price on these stories. They are a very real part of my life, even if they are not really real. And while I wrote them for God, and for myself, I also wrote them for you.

If it helps, think of the $3.99 as shipping and handling costs and buy it anyway (please.)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Author Interview: C. S. Johnson

  1. Pingback: Review: The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering | Review Books and More

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