Welcome back! Boy, it sure seems odd that it’s already April, doesn’t it?
It’s another Monday Morning Author Interview! Today we’re visited by John Rosenman. John is the author of over 350 short stories, a host of novels, former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writer’s Association, and recently retired from Norfolk State University. Let’s join him now!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Since childhood, I wrote stories. It was always important to me, but I didn’t really begin to think of myself as a writer until high school. Even then, you couldn’t really make a living at it. I mean, this country doesn’t have a tradition for writing as a reliable vocation. If you go to a job fair, it’s unlikely that you will see a sign seeking Writers. After I graduated from college, writing was even more important to me, but I was uncertain as to what direction to take. Finally I decided to get my Ph.D. and write while I was teaching in college.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It’s pretty unstructured. I write when I can and when the mood moves me. When I’m working on a project, though, I tend to write for at least a couple of hours a day. But I don’t work at my desk from 9 to 5, nothing like that.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a pantser, which means I make it up as I go along. It’s as if I’m wandering in a fog and get only occasional glimpses of my ultimate destination. I used to go walking through a local Barnes & Noble. That bookstore was like magic to me. I’d just stroll about and chance objects—a book, a magazine, a girl, a lamp—would suddenly pop a story idea right into my head. Somethings the idea was complete, sometimes partial, but usually when I wrote, it resulted in a story.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re supportive, but it’s not very important to them. However, my wife has read and commented on many of my short stories and proofread some of my novels, so she deserves a medal. While she likes some of my writing, she does think it’s often “weird” and not her thing.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Not as much as I like. Occasionally, I receive comments online. They are usually positive, but sometimes critical. I published the first novel in a series, and a reviewer complained that I hadn’t published a sequel even though the ending of the first novel seemed to promise it.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was really small, I knew of only two professions: a postman and a milkman. I thought being a milkman was classier, so that’s what I wanted to be. Later, I saw a Mario Lanza movie and for years, I wanted to be an opera star. What a pity it was that I couldn’t sing!
What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t really cry, but I do get almost weepy. Perhaps the first book was a play, Cyrano de Bergerac, which I loved in childhood, along with the movie. Cyrano has loved Roxane since childhood but can never declare his love because of his large nose. When he goes to visit her at the convent at the end, it’s hard not to break down. He’s dying, and in the scene, Roxane finally realizes that Cyrano has loved her all along and even wrote her dead husband’s love letters. Cyrano was declaring his love through them. It’s a romantic tearjerker if there ever was one.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Usually, I try to be original and come up with the most creative story I can, the kind of story or novel I want to write. If I deal with an old concept, such as vampires or alien invasion, I try to put a new spin on it. While I have slanted some short stories to particular markets, I still try to make them as original as possible.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
First, I have to mention I.J. Parker. Like me she’s a retired English professor. She’s also my beta reader, and her critiques and editing have helped to improve many of my short stories and novels. I’m a friend of Robert G. Williscroft. Like me, he’s a science fiction writer, although he writes harder science fiction than I do. We encourage each other in our writing and I value our discussions. For over twenty years, Richard Rowand was the leader of a writers group I belonged to, and his comments and criticisms were extremely helpful. There are many others I could mention. Cynthia B. Ainsworthe, Steve Beai, Clayton Bye, Kenneth Weene. I know I’m leaving some out.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t let rejection bother you so much, and don’t be so obsessed about writing. The most important thing is to enjoy it. Also, don’t seclude yourself in your office so much and ignore your kids.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
When I invested in a computer. It was so much faster and more efficient. For many years, I wrote my novels and short stories out on yellow legal pads. Then I copied them by typing them out on a typewriter. Now I type directly from my head onto a computer and make multiple electronic copies so there’s little danger of the stories getting lost. Now, if you’re asking what the most money was, it would be when I purchased my current computer.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Oh, I’ve got a lot of them! It’s hard to pick. I think Dax Rigby, War Correspondent deserves more loving. After all, in it, I create a distant world with two distinct, alien races. Plus, I work in a mystery story and invent a new religion.
What are you working on now?
I recently finished Go East, Young Man, which is a sequel to Dreamfarer. Dreamfarer will be published soon by Crossroad Press. Here’s a little plot summary:
Dreamfarer is a novel of the future when 70 percent of humanity are serviced by dream machines after exercising their “option” at the age of thirty-two. These CIUs (Cerebral Interface Units) provide adventurous and romantic fantasies that are far more exciting and fulfilling than ordinary life in a post-nuclear-war America, now ravaged and divided into seven autonomous districts. The year is 2170, ninety years after World War III, and America, Russia, China, and the Caliphate are struggling for supremacy. Nuclear war on Earth is now banned, but the superpowers have exported their hostilities and suspicions to Mars and other planets, where they compete to control the solar system.
What happens to a “Dreamfarer” when he wakes after seven years in a dream machine to find that he has become a Waker, one of the three percent of humanity who are immune to further dream stimulation and must face a dull and tedious existence? This is the case with Sam Adams, whose salvation lies in joining a movement to subvert and destroy the very technology that has robbed humanity of their identity and purpose. In the process, he becomes romantically involved with two radically different women, Trina and Diana, and through unexpected acts of heroism, finds he has become a national hero as well as a double agent like Seth Lance, a hero in one of his dream series.
You mentioned online that you’d had some pleasant experiences lately. Care to share?
Yes, I’d like to. Nothing pleases a writer as much as seeing his stories published in beautiful books and magazines. This happened to me a few weeks back on consecutive days. The first was Startling Stories, which has been on hiatus for . . . 65 years! It stopped publishing after 99 issues, and this issue is number 100. And it’s beautiful, a 7″ by 10″ perfect-bound book over 250 pages long. This issue hasn’t abandoned its pulp origins, but in some ways it has soared above them. It’s got a beautiful cover and two dozen authors, including Yours Truly. And here’s the real kicker. Robert Silverberg always wanted to appear in Startling Stories but was never able to. However, he was finally successful this time, and I know he’s thrilled to be included between the covers with me. It’s available at https://amzn.to/3rbWqDK /
The very next day I received a 600 page paperback copy of A Celebration of Storytelling published by Dark Owl Publishing. It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and has a breathtaking cover. A previous publisher had four separate anthologies prepared but was unable to publish them. Andrea Thomas took them over and published the stories in one volume. It showcases the art of writing in the genres of fantasy, thriller and horror, mystery and crime, and science fiction. The main requirement is that each tail contain a festival, fair, carnival or celebratory event. Check it out at https://amzn.to/3cNhaMK /
What do you have coming soon?
Besides Go East, Young Man, which I will soon submit to Crossroad Press, I have various short stories scheduled for publication. Three stories will appear in Dark Owl Publishing’s collections Something Wicked This Way Rides and A Celebration of Storytelling. Also, a Lovecraft story, “Cthulhu’s Daughter” in Lovecraftian.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I live for the next idea, the next stroke of inspiration. As I near eighty, short story ideas come more rarely. Two of my major themes are the endless, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.
Where can your fans find you?
I have a website at www.johnrosenman.com as well as a presence on social media:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl
Facebook Home Page: http://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E