© 2013 Clive Eaton
JJ Johnson grew up in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma. He attended school at Oklahoma Baptist University where he majored in Student Ministry and Sociology. Having spent eight years working with teenagers in local churches across Oklahoma, he crossed over into marketing for Globe Life and Accidental Insurance Company.
Currently JJ resides in Edmond, where he loves spending time with his wife Ashley and preparing for the arrival of their son Miles.
He has been writing since he was a teenager, but only just recently took steps towards publication. He loves interviewing small press and indie authors on his blog which can be found at:
Book title: Compulsion
A vivid dream. A dark past. A sin that seems unforgiveable.
Sitting atop the town's water tower, pastor Vance Howard finds himself drawn deep into a conversation with a suicidal man named Jake. A man that brings to light the horrors of Vance's own past. Horrors that cause Vance to question his faith, sanity, and everything he thought he was capable of... Compulsion is the gripping short story that causes one to ask "is there a limit to forgiveness...?"
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
Yard work… I love popping in my ear buds, turning on a podcast, grabbing my weed eater and mower and going to work… I’m sure there are some out there who are thinking “that’s work, that’s not relaxing”… But to me it’s that time when I can clear my head from both the stress of work and writing… I also pride myself on having the greenest lawn on the street… LOL
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I think my dad in a way did… He use to play around with plotting short stories and stuff, and when I was a teenager I would always find those rough drafts on the table… Plus he was an avid Sci Fi reader and Louis Lamar fan. I grew up reading the Sackets and all those adventures. In so many ways I think my dad missed his calling. I think he would have been a great writer.
As far as writers, I would have to say John Grisham. I mean I would read his work and think “wow, how fun would this be. And if I do it well, I’ll have lunch with agents and make millions.” Twelve years later I’m still trying to get a lunch with an agent and I haven’t made a dent in earning those millions.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
Compulsion at its heart is a story of forgiveness. About a year ago I started toying with the concept of forgiveness. Being a Christian I struggled with this. I started asking myself if someone did something to me, or my family, would I be able to forgive them. It was tough, but the answer was no. I couldn’t accept that answer so I started studying the concept more and more.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis?
1) It deals with a very dark addiction. I can’t say what, but it’s there.
2) It has the element of someone toying with another person’s past pains.
3) And someone dies…
What research did you need to do for this book?
None really… As I said earlier I really did some study on the concept of forgiveness, dealing with both God’s forgiveness and man’s ability to forgive.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
When I was in high school I heard a story about our pastor climbing to the top of the water tower in town to talk a man down. Evidently the man was threatening to jump and was a little out of it. I don’t know the entire story or how true that really is, but I just remembered that and thought: “What if…?”
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
I’m working on a short novella that I’m hoping to have it out by Christmas. Only about 16,000 words or so. It deals with a struggling crime writer who gets pulled into a case involving a serial killer known as the Thrasher.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I don’t outline. I outlined a novel one time and it was horrible. Every time I felt the story pulling me in a new direction, I refused to listen and go. I stubbornly stuck to my outline and as a result I had a mess. It was so bad I stuck it in a drawer and won’t even glance at it. So now I get an idea and I start asking questions, then that leads to another question, and then another. I have a rough idea of where I want the story to go, but for the most part I just start writing.
I also write the entire first draft in long hand. I have a tendency to want to revise when I’m writing. It slows me down and I get burned out. So now I write in long hand, it’s tougher to erase pen then it is to hit the delete button. I’ve become a firm believer in finishing the first draft… Rewrites are a process for a reason…
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I have to have a pen, and not just any pen, but it has to be a certain pen. It has to have a certain feel and look a certain way. It helps me think. If I don’t have that pen; even if I’m doing revisions in MS Word; I will go nuts. I can’t start until I have that pen in my hand.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I love short stories and novellas. I fell in love with them after reading several of Stephen Kings collections. The market for short stories is not very big either. There are several publications out there (Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock etc) but for the most part it’s not huge. But they’re making a comeback simply because of the all the e-reader devices out… So self-publishing was sort of the best bet.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Finishing. I actually set the project to the side for nearly a year and came back to it. Partly because it was written in a small journal and we moved and I lost track of it for a while. But finishing is always my biggest problem.
2) Grammar… I hate it. It’s always a challenge. I wish there were no rules; it would be so much easier.
3) Last, getting enough courage to give it to some beta readers. Man was that nerve racking. You’re always left wondering “Do they like it..? Are they lying to me…?” Fortunately I had some good honest people that I trusted to give me decent feedback… But it was still nerve racking all the same.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
I do two things. First, I sit the project to the side and then come back to it. Maybe a week, maybe two weeks. Sometimes all we need is a break from it. The second thing I do is I slow down. Sometimes we hit a wall and we just want to give up. I’ve found that if I slow down, write 100 words here, 100 words there, then before I know it, I‘ve broke through and I’m back off and running.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Finish something!!!! I use to look on authors web sites in the FAQS section hoping I would find some sort of inspiration to help me get done. I found none, and nothing they said really helped. The reason was, while I was busy looking for advice my manuscript was sitting un- touched on my desk. Just finishing something is the first step towards publication. I really believe that.
And it doesn’t matter if that first draft stinks either. My first book as I said earlier is sitting in the dark shadows of my desk drawer. Not everything you write is going to be a bestseller, especially right out of the gate. Yes there are some that make it, but look at the greats. Stephen King had what, five unpublished books before he ever wrote Carrie. Just finish the first draft...
What genre does your book fall into?
I would have to say suspense.
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I like the idea of not knowing what’s happening next… Plus some of my favourite writers are suspense…
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Robert B Parker: I love the way he uses dialogue. It’s nearly poetic. I have tried so hard to imitate that flow and pace in my dialogue. It’s hard to do though.
2) Stephen King: His characters are so real. He puts them in some of the toughest and most gut wrenching situations I have ever heard. Sometimes I think “man, how are they going to get out of this…?” I remember reading “Under the Dome.” There was a character in that book that was a city councilman. His name was Jim Rennie. I got so into the story that I slammed the book shut because I was so mad at this character. I had to get up and pace around the room and then come back.
3) JA Konrath: His mystery series on Jack Daniels gives readers a good balance of both terror and humour. I can be squirming on page 200 and then on page 202 I’m busting up laughing. That’s the sign of a good writer.
What was your favourite book as a child?
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Kindle. Because then my bookshelf is left clean for the writers I collect.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Josh Lucas- I think he has been absolutely great in everything he has been in. He recently played in the TV series The firm...
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
It’s in a small Oklahoma town, we need country... Keith Urban.
Drink – A vanilla rootbeer
Meal – A Mexi Chip and Dip combo from a fast food place here in Oklahoma called Taco Bueno. Seriously, that’s it…
Holiday destination – Beaver Lake / Eureka Springs in Arkansas
Method of travel – Car… I hate flying unless I have too.
Sport – I’m from Oklahoma, football is a way of life… So it’s Sooner football in the fall and Thunder basketball in the spring. I like a little Yankee baseball in the summer as well.
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers obtain ‘Compulsion’?
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