Speculative Fiction—an all-encompassing genre created to describe stories of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and other stories that have an element of “What if...” in them. A story in speculative fiction is one that adds an element of the unreal, or asks, what would become of our society if history took a different direction at some important event? Fiction with a little something extra thrown in.—William D. Richards
1. These days,
most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or e-readers. A few still
swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?
I’m a flexible
reader between print and ebook—I read fiction mostly in ebook format and read
non-fiction mostly in print format. I read a lot of history books, and my
Kindle Touch doesn’t display maps or pictures all that well, and a lot of
non-fiction books aren’t formatted for a small screen. So I tend to read NF
samples and if the book really grabs me, I’ll splurge on a print version. But
fiction, I have only so much shelf space for paper books but endless storage
space for ebooks, so I’ve been steadily transitioning my fiction library over
to ebooks. A few authors I keep in print, though. Stephen King’s Dark Tower
series, all of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series, etc.
As for writing,
I’m so used to writing on the Alphasmart Neo, laptop, and desktop that I do
very little hand-writing any more except for occasional notes and grocery lists
(and even then I use Evernote for most of that). It’s kind of sad, really—I can
barely read my own hand-writing any more.
2. Apple or PC?
PC, but I’m not
a fanatic about it. I haven’t really looked into Apples because I’m pretty much
a ‘if it works, why change it?’ kinda guy. I’ve had good luck with PCs over the
years so I stick with PCs. I imagine if someone sat me down with an Apple and
showed me how or why it’s better than a PC, I’d consider switching over, but
for now, all I need for writing and publishing is on the PC.
3. Do you use
Scrivener or Word?
much as possible and Word only to compile my manuscripts into .doc to send to
editors. Once Scrivener adds in a good, robust track changes feature, I’ll
probably kick Word to the curb.
4. Do you have
any pets? Do they influence your writing?
I have three
cats and have had multiple cats all my life. They definitely influence my
writing in that they are a lot like readers—if they like you, they’ll let you
know in no uncertain terms. And if they don’t like you, they’ll either ignore
you or kick litter on you. If a writer can handle a cat’s bad attitude, they’ll
be ready for the real world of readers and reviews.
5. Would you
rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
brain is really geared toward telling serialized stories, so I think the small
screen would be much better suited for my stories. I think there’s something
more intimate about the small screen as well—you’re inviting that series and
those characters into your home. As a writer, I want to make my stories and
characters engaging enough that readers want to bring that book or those
characters into their living spaces and spend some time with them.
6. Are you
hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?
Once I made
more of a commitment to my writing, I’ve watched less television, and have
missed most of the latest hot shows. I love Star Trek, so more often than not
I’ll watch an episode or two of the original series, Next Generation, or Deep
Space Nine rather than tune into the latest series.
7. Do you own
copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you
ever watch them?
Extended editions all the way, and I watch the series annually, plus most of
the special features. I also try very hard to read the Lord of the Rings annually,
but that’s a bit more of a time commitment than I can always make.
8. Have you
seen the The Hobbit trilogy?
Saw the first
two movies in theaters but didn’t get a chance to see the third one. Waiting
for the extended edition to come out and then I’ll watch the trilogy straight
through. I’ll reserve judgment on the trilogy until I’ve had a chance to watch
it all together. I liked the first two well enough, though I felt they were
9. Your Pistols
and Pyramids series is a weird western mixed with Egyptian mythology. What was
it that drew you to this particular subgenre?
I love weird
westerns because I love the concept of taking a genre and shaking it up a bit.
Westerns plus magic or werewolves or vampires or unicorns to get weird western,
or westerns plus technology to get steampunk, stuff like that. I love taking
different elements from my mind map and seeing what happens when they’re
slammed together, and when I slapped ‘ancient Egypt’ and ‘western’ together,
As a writer,
it’s so much fun to take a basic concept and then add layers to it to see what
happens. I took the western core and added a magic layer, an ancient Egypt
layer, a religion layer, and a few others, and so far the combination is
keeping my muse active and happy. And the house of cards hasn’t collapsed yet,
10. In addition
to your weird western series, you've also contributed to several Star Trek
anthologies. So what is it that you love about Star Trek? And which Star Trek
series and/or movie is your favourite?
What draws me
to Star Trek is the hopeful look at the future and the idea that humanity can
move beyond most of the challenges we’re facing today. I don’t entirely agree
with the money-less utopian society and don’t care for some of the technobabble
handwavium, but there are so many elements of Star Trek that resonate with
me—diversity, equality, the lifelong pursuit of self-improvement, global unity,
Star Trek: Deep
Space Nine is my favorite series hands-down (because great characters,
serialized stories, the religion angle, depth), and I’d say Star Trek II: The
Wrath of Khan is my favorite of the films.
11. Are you a
Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
I lean toward
Luddite, I guess. I have an Android smartphone and love it, but I haven’t
bothered looking into tablets yet and I have yet to replace my Xbox 360. I’ve
never been one to chase trends or to need the latest gizmo, so I tend to
cautiously and casually adopt new technology.
12. Are you--or
have you ever been--a gamer?
I’ve been a
gamer for as long as I can remember. Roleplaying games, board games, card
games, computer games, you name it. Currently playing a lot of FFG’s Star Wars
RPGs, Android: Netrunner LCG, the Marvel Lego game on the Xbox, and assorted
board games during a weekly game night with friends. I don’t game as much as I
used to, though, mostly because I’m more committed to writing and publishing.
13. What kind
of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?
between. I’m no Lola Granola, but I try to eat more greens than not and go easy
on the meats and high-calorie food. That being said, sometimes you just gotta
have a burger. Pizza’s my big vice. That and fruit flavor Chiclets gum.
14. Do you have
a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?
developed a love for gardening, though my wife likes to. We don’t have a huge
amount of space for a food garden, but have flowers and trees and such. We do
frequent our local farmer’s markets, though. We’ll probably do some small box
gardens next year and start composting.
15. Coffee or
Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf?
Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?
My caffeine of choice is Cherry Coke Zero, though I do love a hot or iced chai.
Never developed a taste for coffee, though I like how it smells.
16. Do you wear
Only when I
have to. I wear slippers at home and Tevas when it’s not bitterly cold.
17. Do you do
your own laundry?
Yep, as well as
my wife’s and my baby son’s. There are days I feel like all I do is laundry!
18. Does life
that I want to take real life experiences and fold them into my fiction. And
now that my wife and I have a newborn, we’re discovering everything from a
whole new perspective.
19. Do you do
Yoga? Meditation? or Deep Breathing? Does it help you cope?
really. I’ve had good experiences with yoga and meditation but usually don’t
make the time for either practice. I’m pretty laid back most of the time
anyway, but when I do get stressed out, I use my coping techniques (mostly deep
breathing and centering) and then get on with the day.
I play djembe
when I can and I find that relaxes me a lot as well as sparking a different part
of the creative brain.
20. On a scale
of 1-10, how eccentric are you?
around a 7 or 8 on crazy days? I like weirdness and often think about things in
ways that make people wonder about my sanity, but I don’t think I’m really all
that far off the mainstream.
21. What’s your
I’m a Scorpio
through and through. I’ve read a lot of the descriptions of Scorpios online and
in various books, and…yeah. Scorpio to the core; positive elements as well as
22. Do you consider
yourself a slave to the muse?
Not really. I
used to wait around for the muse to give me inspiration and then write, but
more and more I get an idea and then whip the muse into getting to work.
About Jim Johnson:
Jim Johnson is the author of the Pistols and Pyramids series as
well as other prose fiction series currently under development. He has
written sundry other pieces of fiction, including several stories
published in the Star Trek universe, and has freelanced for pen and
paper roleplaying game companies, including Decipher and White Wolf.
Please visit www.SCRIBEINETI.com for more information on Jim and his
interests and writing.
Jim lives in historic Alexandria, VA with his wife, newborn son, and several crazy cats.