*Cheers! Applause! Lots of wild dancing!* You know what kind of party this is.
Combining the semi-realism of science fiction with horror is one of the most terrifying things I think a writer can do and that is exactly what Mr. Johnson brings to the table. We are excited to discuss his first published novel through Permuted Press with him when he joins us at Strangeways Brewing.
Here are some of his answers to our very serious sounding questionnaire (seriously, we could write for The New Yorker we are so serious):
Can you please tell us a little bit about your debut novel?
With Earth’s resources on the verge of exhaustion and worldwide civil war imminent, we looked to the stars for answers. Beneath the surface of lifeless planets, we found all the resources we could ever consume.
Stellan Lund is chief security officer aboard the Atlas, a carrier. Life on a carrier is peaceful. As long as the Atlas’ crew does its job, the New Earth Council leaves them alone. The only risk is an occasional case of black madness, a mental-break condition that is thought to be caused by extended deep space travel. It’s a small risk to take for freedom.
But then Adelynn Skinner, an agent of the New Earth Council, boards and orders the Atlas to uncharted territory where a dying planet with unidentified material waits. It could be the key to ending New Earth’s civil war—or it could end civilization as they know it. They will break protocol and mine the planet before its red giant star consumes it because some risks are worth taking.
Stellan isn’t about to let Skinner jeopardize the Atlas or its crew, but with mounting disturbances and rising concern over the black madness, Stellan struggles just to hold the ship together.
When an accident exposes some of the crew to the alien material, reports of black madness escalate. But something about these cases is different—and it seems to be spreading.
Combining character-rich storytelling, a dynamic plot, dystopian themes, and suspense that builds into an avalanche, Carrier follows Stellan Lund as he discovers he carries the fate of a world and that sacrificing whatever remains of his soul may be necessary to survive. Carrier is an action-packed, horrifying contemplation of what it means to be human and heroic, ultimately investigating how the most beautiful human traits may lead to the destruction of all that we hold dear.
Because some risks are worth taking. What would you risk to survive?
Who would you say has influenced or inspired your writing?
Bob Hicok. He's a poet. And I don't know that his work influenced me as much as him reading his work did. I'm an audial learner, and I went to a reading and listened to him read his work. Something about the way he put his words on the page and then vocalized them clicked with me. It taught me to give every word weight and to slow myself down while writing and reading. It gave me a greater meaning for the craft.
Other than that, though, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Ray Bradbury were very formative influences.
R.L. Stine or Christopher Pike?
R.L. Stine. I didn't read much Christopher Pike, but Stine struck me as someone who was having more fun. As a kid, reading was fun. In high school and college, it got way too serious. I had to unravel that after college and remember that storytelling should be fun. Maybe I should have read more R.L. Stine books.
What is your apocalyptic anthem?
Adagio in D minor by John Murphy. I don't know if there's anything more beautiful and poetic than a triumphant yet sorrowful end by plunging into the sun, the source of all life. It originally was in the Danny Boyle film, Sunshine, but it's since been used in a bunch of different things. I still get chills every time.
If I had a second choice, I might also go with the theme song from 28 Days/Weeks Later (also by John Murphy). It's incredibly haunting.
What is your favorite book... at the moment?
I'm still hung up on Horns by Joe Hill.
If you were on Death Row, what would you choose as your last meal?
A death day cake, and yes, I'd share. But the bastards wouldn't get any of my death day pie.
What is the first horror movie that you really loved and scared you?
Choose your apocalypse: Zombie, Alien, or Human?
Whether it's got zombies or aliens in it, it's about the humans.
I'm thinking we are going to have a great chat with Mr. Johnson on our Books, Brews & Boos panel! A big thank you from the Red Vein Army for joining us! Make sure you check out CARRIER while you wait and for even more from Timothy Johnson, visit his website, www.timothyjohnsonfiction.com.
We continue tomorrow with our introduction to Slade Grayson.