Monday, March 12, 2012

M.R. Interviews... Eric R Johnston

Please Welcome Eric R. Johnston to Cutis Anserina  

Tell us about The Twins of Noremway Parish?  What types of readers do you think this novel will appeal to?

The Twins of Noremway Parish is a novel that takes place in the distant future. The world is run-down; the land is dry, parched, and dead, and there are only a few human settlements left in the world. There was a war with beings collectively known as the Darkness. They have one goal: bring chaos to the world.
There is one being from a group of god-like entities that had survived since the beginning of existence that attempts to restore order to this chaos. He is a Story Teller. These Story Tellers spin tales, making sense of all the disparate things around them, developing a cohesive narrative that has a certain elegance, a pristine order.
The novel begins with the Story Teller narration, but he is soon captured by the Darkness who seek to use his powers to tell another story, one that will tear apart the fabric of the universe. The story changes, becoming dark, evil.
The Twins of Noremway Parish deals a lot with tradition and injustice. These people have their own religion, one that I made up, but it is an off-shoot of Christianity and Catholicism. I have borrowed phrases, titles, roles, and religious edicts from a variety of places to create something unique, yet familiar.
The story itself really follows the parish Friar, Decon Mangler, often referred to as “Brother Decon” and the Parochial Vicar, Teret Finley, known as “Sister Teret.” They are the male and female religious leaders of the parish, and being such must keep a certain innocence about them. When a pair of infant conjoined twins are found in the cathedral, they decide it would be best for the twins if they raised them as mother and father themselves. This leads to a social uproar as it becomes clear that, to some within the parish, tradition, even a tradition that makes no sense, is more important than thinking about the actual well-being of these children.
This novel is intended for college-educated readers. I think it has mass appeal in the sense that there is a big mystery here. 

What was your inspiration for this story?

The original idea was to write a story about a pair of conjoined twins who run away to join the circus, but as I started writing, I thought it would be far more interesting if I created an entirely different world. In so doing, I have to create a culture and backstory for these people. The story evolved from that need to create something new.

Tell us a little about the dichotomy between The Story Teller and The Darkness.

Story Tellers are these beings that maintain order in the world. They narrate every story that is told, and keep the wheels turning. The Darkness wants to create chaos, to destroy the world, to make it nothing buy a shapeless, chaotic void.

The Twins of Noremway Parish tackles quite a few heavy issues.  Were you at all concerned you would alienate some readers, or that the themes would overwhelm your characters?

The characters do become overwhelmed. The reader will be too, but if I did my job right, they will stay with the characters until the end. I am not concerned at all about alienating readers. If someone is turned off by a heavy-handed message, they are free to read something else. Heavy messages is what I’m all about.

What author do you feel most influenced you?  How? 

Stephen King influenced me the most. His writing style and skill at developing characters has informed my writing. I strongly believe that character comes before anything else. You could have the most exciting plot, but if your characters are boring or unsympathetic, no reader will follow them. 

What fictional character had the greatest impact on you?

Roland Deschain, the gunslinger from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. He is mysterious, brooding, and just so damn cool. This character has haunted me since the first time I read The Gunslinger, eighteen years ago.

Do you have anything new coming down the pipeline you would like to share? 

In a few months, my publisher will be releasing a novel called Harvester: Ascension, a book I co-authored with a friend of mine. It is a science fiction novel about an alien invasion. This novel, too, deals with some heavy issues, from being a statement about the highly inflammatory political rhetoric we’ve seen in recent years, to concepts in religion and spirituality.
Following that, will be the release of the sequel to The Twins of Noremway Parish, a novel called The Book of Ragas.

Eric R. Johnston was born and raised in the Flint area of Michigan. He was raised to appreciate science and history. Eric's father was an "in-home Carl Sagan," explaining the nature of the cosmos in easy to understand terms, teaching his children about stars, planets, worm holes, and black holes.

His introduction to science fiction came in the mid-1980's with reruns of the original Star Trek series. In fact, his earliest memory of going to the movie theater was to watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986. The following year saw the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he was hooked on science fiction.

In the following years, he became an avid reader and writer. He developed a love for the science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror stories that were popular in the early- to mid- 1990's. Bruce Coville, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and others. Eventually his tastes grew into more sophisticated writing such as Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Chricton, Ray Bradbury, among many others.

He wrote his first complete short story when he was in 8th grade. It was a simple tale about a group of teenagers who try to conjure up the spirit of a recently deceased super model. The story bordered on sadistic and entered the realm of the obscene, but it was an interesting foray into the world of creative fiction.
In college, he double-majored in English and History, taking an emphasis in American Literature and American History. He then earned a teaching certification in secondary education, teaching Social Studies and English. Currently, writing is his full-time job, but he substitute teaches, a combination of long-term teaching assignments and day-to-day assignments, and during the summer he teaches a remedial reading course.

He lives in both Davison and Attica Michigan with his fiance, his daughter, and two step-daughters.

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