Hello everyone! Today I am posting my first author interview; I hope you all like it!
Bryan K. Johnson is the author of Yield, which releases today.
I asked him a few questions about his new book, writing, and reading.
Q: When did you start writing stories/books?
A: My journey as an author began first as an avid reader. I was given a box set of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in the fifth grade by an influential teacher of mine. Even though some of the language was challenging for a ten-year-old, I really enjoyed the story and the amazing world of Middle Earth that Tolkien could create with each word. I read a lot in high school, moving into more science fiction and fantasy, enjoying everything from David Eddings and Brian Jacquez to more mainstream authors like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy. I remember as I finished up one of Eddings's multi-part series having this odd feeling of disappointment in the pit of my stomach that it was all over. Eddings did such a masterful job of creating rich and memorable characters that they lived on in my mind well after the last page was turned. I honestly felt a little embarrassed that a book could affect me so much. That day, my mom could tell something was bothering me. She looked at me, and very matter-of-factly said, "Well, just write your own story then. Finish it the way you want." She said it like it was such an obvious thing. I started writing soon after, first with comic book stories, then screenplays, and finally my debut novel Yield.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being an author and writing?
A: To write is to create. It is as fluid as a plot twist or as concrete and tangible as the printed word. Writing is life. It constructs entire worlds on an anatomical scale, creating adventures one purposeful letter at a time. That is an incredible feeling for me, to know that what I put down someone else will ultimately pick up and experience in a completely unique way. There is something so incredibly freeing in that. Anything can happen when those words pour from your fingertips, like a monsoon of new possibility raining down. It is transformation itself—re-imagined at every glance.
Q: What type of audience do you write stories/books for? (ie: age range, genres, etc.)
A: I didn't really set out with a target audience in mind for Yield. I just wrote a story that I liked and felt very passionate about telling. I guess you could say that I am my own target audience. In the back of my mind, I did know the genre I was shooting for. I've always been a big fan of action, thrillers and science fiction, and thought my story would be a great combination of all three.
Q: How did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
A: I originally started down the path of visual arts. Creativity is one of those things that I think can easily cross over into other disciplines. Outside of writing, I love to draw. I sketched out many of my novel's characters and even some backdrops for Yield. You can check them out at:http://www.armageddia.com/Artwork.html At one point in high school, I wanted to be a comic book artist but just didn't have the speed for it. The really good artists can finish several full pages in a day. I was also interested in graphics and animation, so I initially went to school for design and the media arts, receiving an Associate's in graphic design, finishing a Bachelor's program in advertising, and continuing on to get my MBA in marketing from the University of Liverpool.
I started writing at first as an extension of reading, and wanting to create equally memorable worlds for my own characters to inhabit. I started with the easier story lines of graphic novels, enjoying the illustrations at least as much as putting together the words. Even though my career took me into graphic design and ultimately the television industry, I never stopped writing. I've put together quite a few shorts that I'd love one day to expand out, and have also written a handful of screenplays. My current novel, Yield, was also once a screenplay, just begging to be freed. That story was clawing at the edges of my tab stops, refusing to be confined in such a restrictive format.
Q: How many books are you planning on writing in your Armageddia series?
A: From page one, I knew that the Armageddia story would stretch across at least three parts. To do it right, I knew it had to depict the epic journey and transformation of not only the characters, but also our country and world. There was just no way the story could fit into a single installment.
I'm currently working on book two of the Armageddia Series, and love the direction it's going. I feel like I learned a lot while writing Yield, and that's helped my process on book two tremendously. The follow-up to Yield explores a darkening world, one filled with revenge, retribution, and a desperate struggle to find hope within the chaos. Book one saw the transition from normality to a new way of life. It was very sudden and immediate in the lives of Devin and the other characters. Book two of the Armageddia Series takes place a year later, and is more about the sustained struggle to survive, showing how the characters have changed in very different ways to do just that.
Q: How do you get the word out to people about your first book, Yield, so they can discover it?
A: I think that has actually been harder than writing the book! Becoming an author isn't simply putting together a compelling story with a unique hook, then watching the floodgates of success open wide. Becoming a published author with tangible numbers is far more difficult than just writing. There are a lot of other very talented writers out there, all competing with one another to reach prospective readers. New writers must be well versed in social media, able to network and build connections, be willing to invest their own time and resources, maintain engaging presences on a host of different platforms, and always be looking for ways to market themselves and their brand to new customers. I have an MBA in marketing, so thankfully I have a bit of experience in that arena. But trying to build credibility and a following takes time. New writers start at ground zero, regardless of how great you think your book might be. Don't get discouraged, but don't underestimate that either.
I've done everything from getting television and online ads, to networking across reader/writer sites like Goodreads, to contacting other media outlets and alma maters and submitting press releases. Authors also have to be marketers to get the word out in as many different places as possible.
Q: Where do you like to do your writing?
A: I lead a very scattered and chaotic life. I'm a moonlight writer with a busy day job, spending a lot of time on the road in addition to working 50+ hours a week. I write when I can in odd hotel rooms or bookstores, while also balancing time with my wife and kids when I'm at home. I was actually still writing Yield while finishing up my MBA program, too. I don't know how I juggled everything, but somehow you just find a way when you're passionate about it. Lately I've been more focused on the marketing of Yield, but when I'm in creation mode, I'll write in the evenings until the ideas stop flowing.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and was really impressed by the author. She did an amazing job of interweaving her world's backstory into the broader narrative, and creating an intense pace through the entire three-book arc. I think I read each book in about a day. They were just too good to put down. I love books like that.
Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
A: Dan Brown's gripping, page-turning style is one of my favorites. I think I read Lost Symbol in two days. Sometimes short chapters make things too choppy, but Brown does a great job of hooking his readers at each chapter break and making his stories really hard to leave. My favorite author growing up was David Eddings. His stories took me on amazing adventures with magic, knights, and the steady march of war. I was absolutely captivated by his fantastical characters and worlds, and was inspired to try building my own.
Thank you for checking out this author interview! If you'd like, you can buy Yield here: http://www.amazon.com/Yield-Bryan-K-Johnson/dp/1589826817