Sunday, December 14, 2014

C. M. Johnson -- Day 3

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
C.M. Johnson

She is the lovely author who's epic saga defies categorization into one genre. Each book tells a different part of the story with a different focus, but it is best if they are read in order. Each volume contains a recap of earlier works. You can get the first three books together at a discount to help you catch up with the series.

I live in Tampa, Florida with my husband, James. Both he and my father are retired from the Navy and, while my hubby is still working, my father has retired again. We have no children and I am often at my parents' house to help them out. 

I began writing Tales of the Fifth Guardian in July of 2009, it was not the first time I began writing the series but it was the most successful. I began self-publishing in January of 2012 while I was still teaching which is why I write under C.M. Johnson instead of my full name. I simply told the students I wrote under a pen name I would not tell them and they never thought to look for me that way. As much as I loved working with the children, it soon became evident that my life was taking a different path and I left education in August of 2013 to pursue my Master's in Accounting while writing in my free time. My goal is to eventually work from home so I have the freedom to be creative when I need it.

What was your favorite book when you were a child and how do you think it influences what you like to read and write today?

I've always been a reader, often of everything and anything I could get my hands on and re-read whenever necessary but I never truly had a favorite "book". My grandmother bought me my first Nancy Drew mystery for my seventh birthday and my favorite school event was always the bookfair. The book series I re-read the most growing up was V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic series her standalone My Sweet Audrina. I've always been a multi-genre reader with a leaning toward the supernatural and paranormal, which is probably the largest influence on my writing as I often describe the series as mulit-genre - "An adult romantic fantasy adventure series with paranormal aspects."

If you could spend the day with any author, who would you choose and what would you do?

There are so many authors I've enjoyed and would love to spend a day just chatting with: From two of my childhood heroes who wrote about their challenges: Helen Keller and Corrie Ten Boom to those whose books have entertained me: Carolyn Keene, V.C. Andrews, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and Anne Rice.

 What was the inspiration behind your book series and what do you do to keep that inspiration?

 Tales of the Fifth Guardian is based on the question: What if the descendents of the survivors of Atlantis lived among us in modern times with all the Power and Abilities of their ancestors?

It developed out of the superhero games I played on the playground growing up, after I began to wonder how those same abilities might develop naturally on Earth. The answer came to me when I began to study mythology and heard the legends of Atlantis. In the history of the People, and that is all they have ever been called, their name for the island, Otland Iis, was misunderstood when the first guardian lead them to begin trading off-island. They were not from outer space as some of the legends posit, instead, they simply evolved differently in their isolated society. They have a variety of psychic abilities and elemental powers that set them apart from the regular humans that live in the cities around them. The series is about Kerrisha, the Fifth Knowledge Guardian of the People of Otland Iis, it is her duty to reunite the six clans that were separated and have been at war since the time of the Fourth Guardian. The problem is that she is too young and it has been too long since the time of the Fourth Guardian and the Guardians have become myth and legend to the people so she often has to prove herself.

In Tales of the Fifth Guardian, you will discover an ever-increasing cast of characters, venues, abilities, and challenges. I've created a new language for the characters to use for spells, titles, and formal situations. You'll find a new version of the Otlantesha Dictionary at the back of each volume to help you in your reading. Tales of the Fifth Guardian is written in a journal format and told in the first/third perspective of the main characters and some of the secondary characters - each speaker is clearly delineated at the beginning of their sections. The covers reflect the journal format: black with an emblem from that volume in the center. There are scenes of violence, rape, mental and physical abuse, and torture throughout the series but there is also a story of Power-chosen mates with a deep love that can overcome everything. My main character is also a kick-butt warrior queen that fights back when she's attacked. The beginning of the series has more darkness with lighter sweeter intimate scenes but the later books are less dark with more intense intimate scenes, including multiple partners. Which is perhaps how I keep my inspiration throughout the series - everything is always changing.

1) What inspired you to write your first book?

The story has been with me since I was a child (obviously the adult parts came later) and I have started writing it a number of times. Finally, in July of 2009, I was successful in continuing and Tales of the Fifth Guardian was off and running.

2) How did you come up with the title for each book?

I dread reading series that are unnumbered and hard to keep in order so each one has the volume number as part of the title and then, usually, one word that describes the main event of that volume. The only exceptions to the one word title are: Tales of the Fifth Guardian; Book One: The Beginning and the one short story available so far: Tales of the Fifth Guardian; Book 7.5: Stolen Heirs which is also the only one with a numeric volume descriptor.

3) Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

It’s not so much a message as a theme: Love at first sight can be real, a strong love can stand up to any challenge, and it’s important to accept love in its many forms.

4) Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?


5) What books have influenced your life the most?

I have always been a voracious reader so to pin down just one or two books or even series as the most influential is nearly impossible.

6) If you had to choose, which writer would consider a mentor?

Probably V.C. Andrews; I remember seeing Flowers in the Attic on the checkout stands as a child and then that was the first “Adult” themed series I purchased with my babysitting money when I was 14. I have lost track of the number of times I read the series.

7) What book are you reading now?

I am not currently reading a book right now because I am revising the next book in my series. However, my next planned reads are: Backstage by AM Madden and Letting Go of Us by JM Witt.

8) Are there any new authors that have grabbed your attention?

In the last year and a half since I found the online Indie community there have been a few to catch my attention: A.D. Justice, AM Madden, and JM Witt are just a few that I have begun reading.

9) What are your current projects?

I am currently preparing Tales of the Fifth Guardian; Book Eight: Demon for its coming release and updating some of the earlier volumes.

10) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?

Yes and no, I’m in the process of updating some of the earlier volumes and I have tweaked a couple of the covers to brighten them up (Book One has been completed and Book Two is coming soon) but, other than that, I can’t think of anything else I would change.


11) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have almost always written; free-verse poetry has been a way for me to express my feelings for as long as I can remember and I had two pieces in a collection of writings from my elementary school. I eventually branched into creative writing and was pleasantly surprised by my English professor in college when I was asked to explain my writing process and give tips to some of the other students.

12) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Tales of the Fifth Guardian is written in a journal format and has an ever increasing cast of characters and venues along with a language I created for the characters to use in spells and titles – Keeping everything straight and organized is probably the most challenging aspect and requires multiple organizational tools: A Calendar of events for each volume and a full timeline of the full series to keep track of dates, a One Note file with a dozen tabs to keep locations and characters organized, and an Otlantesha to English and English to Otlantesha dictionary to keep track of the words of the language I created.

13) What the hardest part of writing your book?

Keeping the intimate scenes fresh.

14) Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Through meeting and writing about some of my characters, I have realized that I am probably the most tolerant person in my family.

15) Do you have any advice for writers?

If your dream is to write then do it but get help if you are at all shaky on the rules of grammar.

16) Do you have anything specific to say to your readers?

Let me hear your thoughts! I include my Facebook, Twitter, and Email at the back of all my books.

17) What would you do in a zombie apocalypse should it occur on Black Friday?

We don’t go out on Black Friday so we would batten down the hatches but still prepare to evacuate in case we would need to.

18) If you could be any Christmas character, what would you be and why?

Snoopy, quietly going behind everyone, doing my own thing but helping it to all work out.

19) Favorite Christmas movie?


20) Favorite Christmas CD?

No particular favorite.

21) Favorite thing to do for the holidays?

Torture family members with obscure hints about their gifts and bake cookies.


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