Interview Transcripts

Scott Johnson: Getting Started and Promoting Your Work 2/23/06


Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello, all! Welcome to our Professional Connection Live Interview!

 

My guest today, Scott A. Johnson, is the author of An American Haunting, Deadlands, and The Mayor's Guide to the Stately Ghosts of Augusta. He is also the author of Cold Spots, a regular column about real haunted places, for The Horror Channel about real haunted places. (http://www.horrorchannel.com ).

 

Take a look at his website at: http://www.americanhorrorwriter.com

Scott A. Johnson

Howdy, folks.

Mary Rosenblum

Scott, welcome! It's great to have you back! You've made quite a bit of progress since our last chat!

Scott A. Johnson

I've been having a good year.

 

I signed contracts for four more books over the next two years.

Mary Rosenblum

That's super! Who's bringing them out?

Scott A. Johnson

Harbor House Books. This year will see "Cain River: A Ghost Story" and the second "Mayor's Guide" about Austin, TX

 

Next year will see "City of Demons" and the third Mayor's Guide about Charleston, SC

 

 

 

Oh...And I also have a chapbook coming out from Naked Snake Press in May. It's called "The Journal of Edwin Grey"

Mary Rosenblum

You're really making a name for yourself with the ghost stories...fiction and nonfiction. Tell us about this 'Mayors Guide'. Is this a long running series?

 

And maybe you'd better define 'chapbook' for folks.

Scott A. Johnson

I hope it will be. The way it works is, I research the ghost stories of one town. I only take the ones that I can verify through historic fact.

 

and through newspaper reports, that sort of thing. When I have enough, I send it to the publisher. They're pretty much telling me where to write them about. A chapbook is a story that's too long to be a short story, too short to be a novella. Mine was about 10,000 words long.

Mary Rosenblum

So are you writing about Portland? You mentioned coming this way when we spoke the other day.

Scott A. Johnson

I'd love to write about Portland. If I can swing getting there, I'll be there.

Mary Rosenblum

That's a popular new form these days with the small presses. I've heard quite a bit about chapbooks lately.

Scott A. Johnson

Chapbooks actually originated in the late 1700s. They're just now coming back into style for fiction. Used to be, you'd only see poetry in them.

sojourner

Why are they 'chap' books?

Mary Rosenblum

Good question. I've wondered myself.

Scott A. Johnson

I have no idea. I've asked several, but no one I've asked  knows either. One theory is that they were often carried by "chaps" in their sleeves, hence the shortness of the books.

Mary Rosenblum

Sounds plausible, at least! :-)

potential

Are chapbooks more easy or difficult to get published?

Scott A. Johnson

There is a niche market for them, and more publishers are doing them, so I'd say it's easier than a full-length novel.

 

Some companies, like Delirium, are even putting out hardback chapbooks, if you can believe that.

 

They look like children's "first reader" style books.

Mary Rosenblum

I've seen a few. The ones I saw were paperback size in hardcover!

 

There seems to be the beginning of a resurgence in short fiction interest. More publishers are putting out anthologies of original fiction now. That used to be very rare.

Scott A. Johnson

Yeah, I just got my hands on John Everson's "Failure," which was a pretty good read. I almost tossed it into my five-year-old's backpack by mistake. Many of them are publishing them POD. The problem is that many chain bookstores won't take POD.

speckledorf

Do you think we will see chapbooks at the chain book stores?

Scott A. Johnson

I think you will not see them at chain book stores. You'll have to go looking for them. I know that Shocklines carries a good many of them...

Mary Rosenblum

But I've seen quite a few of these novelette length (around 10,000 words) think paperbacks in the chains. The mainstream publishers are putting them out...

 

the big NY houses like Random House.

Scott A. Johnson

The problem is that there are too few people who actually read anymore, so it's difficult to justify such a small priced item.

 

I hadn't seen any, but if the mainstream guys are putting them out, then so much the better!

Mary Rosenblum

That's what I think is changing, Scott, or at least I (as a short story writer) hope so.

 

I keep my ear to the ground at the conferences and the reading public seems to be reading more short fiction, but not in paper magazine form.

Scott A. Johnson

I hope it changes too. I actually have a t-shirt that has a big red ribbon on it with a skull and crossbones over the front that says "Read More Horror..."

 

"Because illiteracy is scary."

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, I WANT one of those shirts! Where DID you get it?

Scott A. Johnson

I made it. It's on my cafepress site.

Mary Rosenblum

I can buy one? I'm there!

Scott A. Johnson

Great thing about cafepress, you can be your own walking billboard. Which brings me to promoting your work! Slick, eh?

Mary Rosenblum

Very! :-) But wait, sojourner answered our chapbook question for us...Thanks, sojourner.

sojourner

Mary, just an FYI: Encyclopedia Brittanica says:"small, inexpensive stitched tract formerly sold by itinerant dealers, or chapmen, in western Europe and in North America."

Mary Rosenblum

And there you go.

 

Chapbooks.

Scott A. Johnson

Thank you Sojourner! Now I know!

potential

Are any of your books on audio?

Scott A. Johnson

Not yet. I'd love to see it done, though.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, since we're talking about self promotions...why not do it yourself? I'm tempted.

Scott A. Johnson

There's actually a new spin on that, which is podcasting entire novels. The Horror Channel is doing that with Joe Nassise's "Templar Chronicles."

Mary Rosenblum

Podcasting is what I was thinking of. My son has done it with his computer and free software. Takes some inexpensive hardware.

Scott A. Johnson

I'd love to do it. I think it would be fun! The publisher I'm working with is always looking for ways to expand, but they have no real experience with books on tape yet.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm going to tap him for some guidance and I'll keep you posted.

Scott A. Johnson

Please do! Sounds like fun!

Mary Rosenblum

It's a deal. :-)

canyon

This may be a silly question, but what does POD stand for?

Mary Rosenblum

There are no silly questions, canyon. Scott?

Scott A. Johnson

POD= Print On Demand.

 

It's a publisher who minimizes their overhead by only printing books when they're paid for. The problem is, again, few bookstores will touch them.

canyon

How are you, sir? I was wondering if you have heard of an abandoned amusement park along Shawnee Lake in W.Va that is supposedly very haunted. Have you been there perhaps?

Scott A. Johnson

I haven't been there, but I do know of the place. Very creepy vibe there, especially with a few dilapidated rides still there.

tory

Are the chapbooks especially popular in the horror genre or in all genres?

Scott A. Johnson

I don't know about other genres, but I do know that they are popular in horror. Plus, academic writers seem to love them as well.

Mary Rosenblum

I've seen them mostly in horror and literary mainstream.

tory

What is Podcasting?

Scott A. Johnson

Podcasting is where you put a streaming audio file up and people download it on their ipod or mp3 player.

 

Kind of like a streaming radio show.

 

I think it's a great way to bring back old radio theater type stuff.

tory

Four books contracted in two years is a lot, it seems. How did you market yourself and your work to get to that level?

Scott A. Johnson

Determination. I started out with nothing published, but I pitched my book to about a hundred publishers.

 

At the time, I didn't even think about marketing myself, just trying to get the book published. When I found a publisher

 

and then got the second book (Deadlands) published, then I began marketing myself as Scott A. Johnson, Horror Author.

 

Your main goal is to build awareness and a positive general attitude toward yourself. To do that, I've been to almost every horror board that I could find

 

and I didn't just hang around for a few days, yell "Buy my book!" and disappear. Horror is something I care about, so I stuck around, actually talked to my fellow horror fans

 

and began to slowly build an audience. I started looking for horror/fantasy/sci-fi conventions that I could attend, and began going to those.  As far as getting up to that 4-book deal level, that has everything with getting your foot in the door. They say that everyone has at least one good story in them. Well, when you get the second one published, then people begin to be more open to looking at your other work.

 

Actually, my first convention ever was where I met Mary Rosenblum.

Mary Rosenblum

And I was impressed with how hard you were working to promote your book...which was why I invited you here the first time. :-)

tory

How do you get paid for that--podcasting? Or do you?

Scott A. Johnson

The podcasting, some do. Users have to subscribe to get the service. The book we're podcasting is free, so Joe isn't getting paid for it. He's just doing it because he's the first to do it.

Mary Rosenblum

I see it more as a promotional tool right now, wouldn't you say?

Scott A. Johnson

Right. That's exactly what it is. One chapter every week for 36 weeks. He'll spend the better portion of a year casting the whole thing.

Mary Rosenblum

So how did you go from your books to the regular column on ghosts for the horror channel?

 

That seems like GREAT publicity right there.

Scott A. Johnson

That was just plain old-fashioned luck. I was following the whole horror-web-site thing when I stumbled across The Horror Channel site.

 

It was a really cool place, so I stuck around. After I'd been there for a month, I mentioned that I had a book coming out, and that I'd love to work for the horror channel.

 

Ten minutes later, I get a message from Uncle Creepy asking for my cell phone number, and he offered me the gig.

 

Like I said...Luck. Pure, crazy, random luck.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! Would you say that's something for new writers to keep their eyes peeled for...some kind of gig like that in a magazine, for a website?

Scott A. Johnson

Yes. And let me just say, unless there are strange circumstances, make sure you get paid for your work. I cannot stress this enough. By strange circumstances, I mean this: The Horror Channel is a startup television station. In leu of payment, I've been given stock in the company, some amazing contacts, and I couldn't be happier with my position.

canyon

"Do things change when contractual deadlines step in. Is it harder to write 'on demand' than just because?

Scott A. Johnson

Not really. I haven't had any deadlines with the books, but with the columns I have a deadline twice a month. It doesn't seem like much, but that deadline looms at times.

 

But, I can get some good writing time in if I know that there's a deadline approaching.

 

I think of it more as a motivator.

Mary Rosenblum

You've been pitching the finished books, then? Rather than selling on proposal?

Scott A. Johnson

Yes, all the books that were coming out (except for the Charleston one for '07...I still have to write it) were finished when I proposed them.

Mary Rosenblum

That does keep the pressure off. :-)

Scott A. Johnson

The Charleston one I don't count, because they came to me with it! They wanted that one. After that, I'm doing San Antonio, TX

Mary Rosenblum

That sounds like a long term winner, that series. If you enjoy doing 'em.

Scott A. Johnson

I love them! I can't get enough of real haunted places.

 

I'm kinda weird like that... :)

Mary Rosenblum

I think that's very cool, actually. :-)

jyinxy

What made you decide that you wanted to write horror and ghost stories? Ever give yourself nightmares?

Scott A. Johnson

I grew up in a town that was covered in ghost stories, so I grew up around it. When I was in grade school, we had this old lady

 

named Catherine Munson Foster who would come around and scare the poop out of us kids with ghost stories about our home town.

 

I loved the feeling and the reaction she got, and I guess it warped me since then. I grew up watching Karloff and reading Poe and Lovecraft. It just came naturally to me.

canyon

Have you considered visiting Virginia? Were crawling with haunted history here.

Mary Rosenblum

Actually, several people in the audience have great local ghosts. Can they contact you on your website, tell you about them?

Scott A. Johnson

I went to Virginia long before I started writing, and thought it was great. I'd love to do a Mayor's Guide (or two or three) about Virginia.

Scott A. Johnson

Of course they can! My e-mail contact information is there, or they can message me on my Myspace blog. Yes...I have a blog...*shakes head*

Mary Rosenblum

EVERYBODY has a blog. :-)

Scott A. Johnson

Believe it or not, Blogs are good marketing tools, if you use them correctly.

Mary Rosenblum

Scott's Website

 

They are. I am NOT good at using them correctly, but I just have too many other things going on, sigh.

sojourner

Can you expand on using a blog correctly?

Scott A. Johnson

What I mean is, look at my website, then my blog. My website is "Here's Scott and his books. Buy them now!"

 

My Blog, on the other hand, is more personal and gives more insight into me. That keeps readers coming back. No one will visit a site that just says Buy My Books over and over again.

 

But, if you post things on there that you believe in, let them see who the real person behind the keyboard is, they get interested.

 

Then, occasionally, you mention the books, or you make sure there're graphics of them on the site. People prefer to feel a real connection with someone than to feel like they're always being pressured to lay money down.

Mary Rosenblum

That's exactly it. The blog allows you to interact with readers in a way...to become a person and to keep people coming back to see what you have to say.

Scott A. Johnson

If they like you, if they enjoy what you write, or even if they don't, they see you as a real person, and are more inclined to pick up a book .

 

I know it sounds cynical, but this is Marketing 101 here. You have to get yourself in front of your target audience, but then you have to figure out a way to keep their attention, or at least retain your memory.

Mary Rosenblum

Which is also why appearing on panels at writers conferences, doing readings, speaking at libraries, in front of book clubs, is good marketing.

Scott A. Johnson

My Blog contains information about a whole bunch of other stuff I'm into. Heck, it even plays "Dead Man's Party!"

Mary Rosenblum

I know. :-) I usually HATE musical blogs and websites, but I happen to like Dead Man's Party a lot, so I forgave you. :-)

Scott A. Johnson

That's right! Getting in front of people is an absolute must! Now that doesn't mean you have to finance a huge book tour, because, let's face it, you'll never sell enough books to pay for your hotels and gas.

 

But you should do things locally, then virtually.

Mary Rosenblum

Do you see the internet as a huge new PR universe for writers?

Scott A. Johnson

If done properly. I see too many people that bury themselves by doing the whole "join every board, pimp my work, then jump off" routine. I also see too many people who act like complete horses asses, and then can't figure out why no one wants to publish them. They've offended the editors, the fans, the readers, everyone!

 

You can't go into this business with a chip on your shoulder. Remember, without readers, you don't have a job.

Mary Rosenblum

Ain't THAT the truth!

speckledorf

I've been reading agent blogs and have really learned a lot from them. It makes the agent more of a real person instead of the bad guy behind the big desk.

Scott A. Johnson

People aren't necessarily fickle, they do remember! Especially if you treat them badly!

 

Speck, exactly! I read the blogs of pro-wrestlers because it makes them more real than the goofy dude on the TV screen!

jyinxy

How do you feel about these places that offer contests, say they love your work and want to publish it - you don't get paid and then have to buy the book? How do you suggest "budding writers" protect themselves against those who want to use their work for personal gain?

Scott A. Johnson

I feel that those places are the scum of the earth. They are preying on the dreams and talents of people, and they should all be beaten with unabridged copies of Shakespeare’s complete works.

Mary Rosenblum

Scum of the earth about sums it up

 

and alas, it's a growing profession.

 

Money flows FROM the publisher TO the writer. ONLY

Scott A. Johnson

The best way to protect yourselves against something like that is to use common sense. Have you ever heard of said contest? Has ANYONE ever heard of the contest? If not, Don't do it. Exposure doesn't pay the bills, and it doesn't increase your credibility as a professional writer.

 

If you want to be considered a professional writer, then BE a professional writer.

ktmcley

Are you aware of the ghosts at the places you visit?

Scott A. Johnson

Aware as in how? I research everywhere I visit. Can I feel them? Sometimes. I have been pushed, slapped, scratched, shoved and kicked before. I've had things whisper in my ear (which is really freaky, let me tell you), and I've experienced more than a few "Cold Spot."

 

I've also had objects move, and that'll put a spring in your step toward the door.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, that's cool. Did you ever feel that you were in some way in physical danger?

Scott A. Johnson

No, not really. I've never had anything do anything that left permanent damage, or even try to. I do know of a fellow, a ghost-hunting friend of mine, who claims he was pushed out a second-story window...He landed hard, broke his tailbone, and lived through it. He won't go back into that house.

Mary Rosenblum

When you got scratched, did you see a mark afterward? I'm curious. I've only ever heard ghosts. J

Scott A. Johnson

Yep...Four nice long red welts that came up across my back.

 

They burned like crazy for about two days.

Mary Rosenblum

Wow.

canyon

"Do you ever watch any of the 'ghost hunter' shows?

Scott A. Johnson

Yeah, whenever I can catch them. I think those guys are a riot!

info

I was watching Ghost Hunters last night. They used high tech gadgets and stuff to try to prove/disprove hauntings. Do you use such things for your horror stuff?

Scott A. Johnson

Sure. I use an EMF meter, night-shot camcorder, non-contact IR Thermometer, still camera, digital voice recorder, and anything else I can get my hands on.

 

My EMF meter is my favorite, though. Makes me feel like Ghostbusters or something. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

EMF = electromagnetic frequency.

 

What do you see with it?

Scott A. Johnson

I don't see anything with it, but I can measure electromagnetic fields that aren't supposed to be there. When the needle starts ticking, I start looking for a source.

Mary Rosenblum

That was what I meant, sorry, do you see reactions in the meter to some of the things you see or hear or feel?

Scott A. Johnson

Yes, definitely. I've recorded spikes in the readings at the same times as cold spots, without any discernable source.

info

Next question is, do you, like the guys on Ghost Hunters think that orbs are lint or a piece of dust?

Scott A. Johnson

Usually, that's when I'll start trying to get EVP (electronic voice phenomena) or snapping pictures.

 

I think the vast majority of "orbs" can be explained. There are a few that can't.

janecj333

Plumbing?

Mary Rosenblum

I think she meant that as reason for the spikes at cold spots, Scott.

Scott A. Johnson

Ah...Plumbing doesn't set off a meter like that. A microwave, yes, but not plumbing. Of course, whenever I do an investigation, I kill all power to the house. That way I get fewer false readings.

canyon

"What are your thoughts on the supposed actual hauntings that spawned 'The Amityville Horror' novel?

Scott A. Johnson

Let me just say...George Lutz is, in my opinion, a lawsuit-happy huckster. There is nothing in the house, and the real Amityville Horror was the murder of the entire DeFeo family, and nothing more.

janecj333

Buried cables and underground tanks must generate EMF's.

Mary Rosenblum

Buried cables, yes, but you can check those, right?

 

They're on record.

Scott A. Johnson

Buried cables do, yes. However, they are on record, and, depending on the depth, you can trace the lines all the way to the breaker box or power pole. An EMF spike has a definite shape and then dissipates with no source.

jyinxy

Have you ever investigated the Amityville house?

canyon

Didn’t the haunting aspect of Amityville generate from Ron DeFeos claim that forces in the house told him to commit the crime?

Scott A. Johnson

I've never had the opportunity to, no. Besides, out of respect for the current owner's privacy, I wouldn't want to. They've gone so far as to change the house number and remove the "eye" windows to keep the curious away!

 

That's where George himself said he got the idea. However, Ronnie "Butch" DeFeo later recanted the statement, claiming he was just trying to cop an insanity plea.

info

What are your thoughts about Poltergeist? I heard Heather O'Rourke who played the little girl died around the time the third one came out.

Scott A. Johnson

She did, and it was a tragic coincidence. Poltergeist, however, had its roots in a real place in Colorado called Cheeseman Park.

 

To this day, there are still over 2000 bodies buried there, and under the houses that border the park. And there have been all kinds of recorded phenomena

Mary Rosenblum

I have a feeling you're going to get quite a few visitors to your website, Scott. And folks

 

you can follow a link there to Harbor House Books and buy his first Mayor's Guide. I recommend it.

 

Scott's Website

jyinxy

Have you ever thought about teaming up with a psyic like Sylvia Brown during one of your investigations?

Scott A. Johnson

I can also tell you another little jewel of marketing...Reviews. Get as many of them as you can. Get them from places that your target audiences go to.  I had a book reviewed by "About.Com." last year. The reviewer picked "Deadlands" as one of her top ten reads of 2005. Now, the marketing folks at the publishers refers to it as one of the best reads of 2005 by about.com!

Mary Rosenblum

Great PR, Scott. :-) Those quotes are SO nice.

Scott A. Johnson

No, not really. I prefer to have quantitative data versus something that can be immediately scoffed at. Let's face it, the majority of "psychics" are of the Miss Cleo variety.

 

Only after I've thoroughly investigated a place would I consider bringing in a psychic to look at it.

 

And it would have to be a psychic I trust.

janecj333

Don't you wonder if those who believe in ghosts might tend to interpret every little sound or mist or temperature variation in a room as something supernatural, because they want it to be so?

Scott A. Johnson

Sure. We all do. But, you have just as much chance of convincing them of that as you do convincing an agnostic that there is a God.

 

The only evidence that I trust in ghost cases are the things I experience or cannot explain. I've seen spots on the lens, mists that turned out to be cigarette smoke, the works.

 

That's why I carry equipment with me. My senses my fool me, but my meters don't lie.

keith harjes

Where have most of your investigations taken place?

Scott A. Johnson

Texas. Although I would like to travel all over the US and see every little place I can.

mudhen

Have your Guides been reviewed in Ghost! Magazine?

Scott A. Johnson

Not yet, but I'll make sure to send them a copy!

lynne612

As a horror writer do you stick with ghosts and such, or would something like Signs be close to what you would write?

Scott A. Johnson

I try to stay away from aliens, but I also write about zombies, werewolves, monsters under the bed, mimes, you name it. Horror to me is anything that makes you look under your bed before you go to sleep. Aliens just don't scare me...Except for that one from the original "Alien." Gave me the willies for a month.

Mary Rosenblum

That one did to me, too, and Hollywood aliens generally don't. So why do you think that was? What was so scary about it?

Scott A. Johnson

It followed the Lovecraft principal. You couldn't see it most of the time, and that let your imagination make it far worse.

Mary Rosenblum

Thank, you. That has always been my guess. But then I've a lifelong Lovecraft fan. He STILL scares me at times.

Scott A. Johnson

Lovecraft is the grandaddy of all horror!

Mary Rosenblum

Amen.

speckledorf

How do you feel about horror that is more blood and gore than being scary? I think I saw it called gorror the other day.

Scott A. Johnson

Gore, for the sake of gore, is not horror...It's just gross. If it moves the story along, or if it is important to a character, it's great stuff. If it's just there for shock value, it just leaves me cold.

Mary Rosenblum

Boy, I sure agree...it's what keeps me out of a lot of the horror genre.

keith harjes

Does your faith get in the way of your investigations?

Scott A. Johnson

Now, don't get me wrong...I love to see a bloody movie, as long as it's well done. Gore for gore's sake just doesn't do it for me.

 

Nope, not at all.

mudhen

Are there any magazines you would recommend for horror short story writers?

Scott A. Johnson

Sure...Wicked Karnival, Black October, Cemetery Dance, Alien Skin, Cthulu Sex...Those are some of my favorites.

Mary Rosenblum

Cemetary Dance has been around a LONG time.

Scott A. Johnson

A good place to look for paying markets is http://www.ralan.com

 

Also, check out Predators and Editors. That'll tell you who the legit publishers are.

Mary Rosenblum

That’s a particularly good one.

 

Always check a publisher, editor, or agent there first!

Scott A. Johnson

If you google the name, you'll find it. I don't know the address off the top of my head.

 

Another good place to go is the news boards of  absolutewrite.com   

Mary Rosenblum

Predators and Editors

Scott A. Johnson

It's a really good system in which writers give each other their own experiences in dealing with publishers and other such things. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Mary Rosenblum

They update regularly, too.

canyon

Stephen King still publishes w/ cemetary Dance.

lynne612

As a horror writer and considering the investigating you do, have you ever not finishd a story due to strange events? involving you?

Scott A. Johnson

Yep. And if that isn't a pedigree, then I don't know what is.

 

Lynne, Nope. I'm pretty hard to freak out. The only story I never finished was one about a serial killer, when I discovered that a fellow I grew up with turned out to be one. It hit a little too close to home.

Mary Rosenblum

Yeah, that would.

keith harjes

What made you choose horror?

Scott A. Johnson

I grew up around it. I grew up around haunted places, and I watched Karloff and Lugosi as a kid, and I read Lovecraft and Poe, and it just came naturally to me.

canyon

What authors inspired you growing up?

Mary Rosenblum

Besides the ones you just mentioned?

Scott A. Johnson

Lovecraft, Poe, Richard Mattheson, Clive Barker, Ray Bradburry, Rohld Dahl.

 

Those are some of my favorites.

 

Those are the ones I can always go back to for inspiration.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, Ray Bradbury...I think his work and Lovecraft’s would be considered classics if they weren't speculative fiction writers.

Scott A. Johnson

They should be...And I don't accept the supposed "difference" between literary fiction and genre fiction. Good writing is good writing, and bad writing is bad writing. If it makes you feel something, then it's done its job. That's the same with any fiction. What is science fiction but a reality that hasn't happened yet? I think, if you look, you can find parallels in any literature to what's going on in the world today.

Mary Rosenblum

Hear hear!!!

madhatter

Do you worry that horror falls to close to reality, anymore?

Scott A. Johnson

Nope, I don't worry about it at all.

Mary Rosenblum

Here's a pithy batch, Scott.

lynne612

Isn't successful writing writing what you know about, what you're comfortable with? How far should you stray from your comfort zone? And do you think writing is gender specific?

Mary Rosenblum

What do you say about 'comfort zone'?

 

AND gender for that matter?

Scott A. Johnson

No to both questions. I don't have a "comfort zone." If I do, I'm getting lazy. I don't have to murder someone to write about a murderer. That's why it's fiction. You should stray as far away from your comfort zone as you can...

 

Otherwise, you stagnate. And writing is not gender specific. Never has been, never will be. The difference is in who runs the publishing companies, and that is beginning to even out. Those walls are falling, thank heavens.

Mary Rosenblum

Okay, I have to throw my two cent's worth in here, too. I think you NEED to push your comfort zone. What is writing besides exploring the unknown? And writing has never been gender specific. You don't know the gender of those authors out there...some of 'em aren't what their names suggest. J

Scott A. Johnson

I know plenty of talented women writers, and just as many untalented male writers. It's just a question of who wants it more.

info

Growing up as a kid, peers would ask me if I was ever afraid of my bedroom. Never bothered me even though I always knew it was where they showed corpse. (I use to live in what once was a funeral home.) Do you believe it is possible for ghost to be haunting such places without one being aware of it?

Scott A. Johnson

Sure. There are some people who are sensitive to such things, others who are not. It's actually common for some people to experience hauntings while others wonder what the hell they're talking about.

canyon

Have you ever written a story so disturbing you didn’t want family or loved ones around you to read it?

Scott A. Johnson

Yes, but my wife did anyway. And she loved it. There are still stories that my grandmother isn't allowed to read.

 

Bless her soul, it'd probably kill her!

Mary Rosenblum

Scott, I want to give you these last few minutes to tell us about what's coming up. Some people came in late

 

and didn't hear about your very impressive upcoming lineup.

 

And tell us what cons you'll be attending!

Scott A. Johnson

Okey Dokey...Well, the books that are out now are "An American Haunting," "Deadlands" (which is post holocaustic zombies), and The Mayor's Guide to the Stately Ghosts of Augusta.

 

Coming up this year is the novel "Cain River: A Ghost Story" and the second of the Mayor's Guide series, about Austin, TX. Those'll be out in September.

 

In May of this year, my chapbook "The Journal of Edwin Grey" comes out. If you like Lovecraft, he inspired the style and story for this.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, great. I look forward to that one!

Scott A. Johnson

Next year sees "City of Demons" which is kind of a cop-noir horror, along with the Mayor's Guide to Charleston, SC.

 

Cons, I hope to be attending ArmadilloCon again this year. I just got back from Texas Frightmare Weekend and had a ball. There are photos up on my website. I'm sticking close to home this year, barring any wonderful news.

Mary Rosenblum

Are you going to do World Fantasy? It's also in Austin.

Scott A. Johnson

I'm going to try to do World Fantasy. It sounds like a blast! Plus, you can catch my articles twice a month on The Horror Channel Website.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, great! I'll be at World Fantasy. And it's a great convention. Let's get on a panel together. :-)

speckledorf

Cool Scott. We will have to do lunch at Dillocon. J

Mary Rosenblum

I think Speck is buying. LOL

Scott A. Johnson

Cool! I'll look for you!

trainer

We've had some great guest speakers in the past, but I must say this has been the most amazing for me. Thank you for your time.

Scott A. Johnson

Thank you for having me! You guys don't realize how much fun I have doing this!

Mary Rosenblum

I think that sums it up, Scott. Got any last words for our hard working writers out there?

Scott A. Johnson

READ EVERYTHING, and WRITE EVERY DAY!!!!!!!

Mary Rosenblum

Amen!!!

 

Scott, drop in any time.

Scott A. Johnson

I will. G'night folks!

lynne612

Goodnight and thank you for your wisdom.

Mary Rosenblum

Indeed! Good night, Scott, and watch those ghosts!

 

Thanks for coming! And good night!

 

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