In today’s author interview I chat with Cameron Johnson the author of the excellent Traitor God and other fantasy novels.
- Hi Cameron Johnston tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hello, and thanks for having me. I’m a totally not-middle-aged (expecting 100+ years achieved via a combination of whisky and cybernetics) guy from Scotland who writes darker fantasy, loves archaeology, history and mythology and exploring ancient sites. I was a library kid and I guess I caught the storytelling bug from that, and it evolved from reading a whole lot to wanting to tell my own stories.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
Part of it is revelling in the sheer imagination of it all, from floating castles to terrifying monsters, otherworldly places and fascinating characters landed in situations that suck you in. In a way, reading fantasy is like being an explorer of strange new worlds and as that sense of discovery is a wonderful thing.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
The Maleficent Seven will (probably) be out in August 2021, and let me tell you, writing seven (and a bit) villainous points of view is a pretty daunting prospect after writing two books with only a single point of view protagonist. In the end, I really enjoyed writing those characters and seeing them develop their own unique voices.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I like to vary characters so I don’t have a set type, other than perhaps one with a sharp tongue. One thing I do try to do write are characters that are never 100% good or 100% evil – a bad guy might be a good father or love and care for dogs for example. People are bewilderingly complex creatures. As for how much of myself I put in, probably very little – I’m thankfully much nicer than most of my characters.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Know that most authors are incredibly self-critical, and what you read has gone through several rounds of editing and rewrites. When you start out, the first draft of your first novel or short story will probably not be good, and that’s OK – many published novels started life on shaky feet. To write well you need to learn to write, and then you have to learn to edit your work so it makes sense and reads smoothly. Don’t despair at your first attempts and give up – you will learn from writing it, and then learn to edit it.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
Panic? Hot cups of tea? Perhaps the odd whisky? There are no tricks sadly, just sitting down, avoiding the internet and distractions and getting the words down. It’s easy to procrastinate with a million other things you could be doing, but you just need to resist and get to work.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
-Almost entirely a pantser. I like to know the start and the end of a story, and perhaps a few important points along the road to give it shape, but other than that the characters make their own decisions and write their own story.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
Oh, lots of plans. Too many, really. The only problem I have is what one I want to explore next. I have a few standalone fantasy novels I want to write so I will probably toss the dice to decide what one I start writing first.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
I’ve noticed a slight preference for less grimdark fiction at the moment, turning to more popcorny adventuresome stories instead. I expect that’s trying to find an emotional balance with the relentless craptitude of 2020.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
-I’ll go with Lord of the Rings for this one. What a world! That said, I do love The Mandalorian.