Interview with J.E.T. Johnson

Why does the 'marketing' of stories require vivisection of the personal?
This is my very last digression before trying the 'preview and publish' icon...

Oh I am going to make it the first question on my list; just because I can.
And also because it is an interesting inquiry.

I find the whole concept of 'actively' marketing oneself just to sell a story, dangerously invasive. Such marketing ploys seem to rely on vivi-motional (I just made that up to encompass emotional surgery/vivisection) procedures enacted UPON the author. That is, you, the reader, require that the author spew forth uninhibited outpourings of their emotional, intellectual and spiritual beliefs so that the curiosity of you, the public/reader, is sated.

Or do you?

Who is actually demanding the vivi-motions to begin with? Is it really you, the reader/s?
I know I have never read a word on the nature and/or background of any of my literary heroes. I have found that in real life, actually meeting a respected but hitherto anonymous entity, is usually very disappointing. What they say and what they actually believe are often diametrically opposed; or their ability to enact their higher ideals is somehow perverted by either discourtesy, ego, delusions of superiority, and/or all of the aforementioned.

Or is the curiosity a media-lithic (= media monolith) construct - as I suspect. After all, such monoliths need to be self-perpetuating. They have jobs to secure and profits to make and investors to over-indulge and audiences to deceive in order to capture their ongoing custom so that jobs are secured and profits made and investors indulged and even more customers deceived and their money captured and...

So what is it readers?
Is your alleged curiosity about the author manufactured by the media under its (profit producing) construct of 'fame' and its attendant 'responsibilities'?
If so, I have never been interested in achieving either 'fame' or 'infamy' - see below comments on secretive and solitary - so I have nothing to say for myself in terms of a 'profile'. I will say however, that my WRITING is a multi-directional bridge between dark and light. Some stories are lighthearted. Some are black. Some definitely do not under any circumstances reflect hidden or covert beliefs of the author...some do. Some are in-between. Some even I am not sure of.
And at this point, I don't yet know which of them I will offer for publication and consumption. (Just looking out for your digestive tract, ppl!)

In fact, at the time of writing this, I have only uploaded one file - i.e. 'The Ugly Detective Agency (TUDA); Case of the Stalker Mum'. I am currently editing a second TUDA case; one 'angelic' murder/mystery starring Tantrum, Seraph & Surly; one murderous 'journal of a lunatic' tale; and a few short stories starring certain canines who have insisted they had better see the spotlight of fame forthwith or my linen will not survive its next hanging out.

I can understand that one may be interested in the author and/or characters behind any TRUE story. But for fictional stories, surely it is simply a matter of a reader either liking the story...or not. If the story and characters are part of a series you will continue to follow them...or not. I am certainly not going to assume that your readership of murder/mysteries reflects upon your character, beliefs, and/or general humanity and behaviour. So what does the author's thoughts/beliefs/background have to do with anything?

Of course, my beliefs could be a hangover from my activist days when I was agin all things systemic. Or they could simply reflect that I am old and you are not. Or perhaps it is a more personal characteristic, in that I have chosen to embrace the secrecy of the family rather than join the ranks of 'normal' human interactions - if I actually saw such curiosity as 'normal' rather than invasive; which I don't. Or, it could be all of the above.

I neither know nor care. Let the story speak for itself, I say.

Oh and now I see this whole interview break has actually chewed up two hours!!
When did you first start writing?
When one is this ancient, who can remember when things began?
What's the story behind your latest book?
That is for the reader to interpret. Author interference in one's interpretation would border on a civil liberty's infringement - unless of course, the interpretation was so dysfunctional that it warranted such a response. So please people, interpret responsibly!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
What constitutes 'success'? Is it the simple fact of being published in a public domain? Or is it the huge amount of readers that my stories have garnered? If the former, Smashwords is the publishing conduit so its contribution is all-important - and I am overwhelmingly grateful for its existence. (As opposed to my normal stance on modern tech and its offspring.) If it's the latter, then the answer is probably much the same.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The intellectual freedom and "solitary nature" (those words are meant to be italacised, underlined, and in capitalised bold but the programme will not allow it) of creation. The latter ought to indicate why there is no heart-warming or heart-wrenching 'poor me story of my life' profile. A lone leopard, as they say, cannot change its spots simply at the behest of curious hunters.
What do your fans mean to you?
They keep the rooms bearable in mostly unbearable, sub-tropical, summer heat - except in mid-summer when they make no appreciable difference at all. Or do you mean fans as in followers of my stories? If the latter, it is an experience I have yet to embrace.
What are you working on next?
Editing...editing...editing...oh how I wish I could just step right on over that little consequence of writing, and pre-requisite for publishing. Over the years I have destroyed and/or lost far more of my work than I have ever kept but there is enough to go on with at the moment.
Who are your favorite authors?
I don't often retain the names of authors. In the last decade or ten I have read only from the murder/mystery genre and so of course know and love Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot characters. In more recent years I have been drawn to follow particular series, or characters, such as Kathy Mallory - but I can't identify her creator. Nor can I remember the author of 'The Tinderbox' which I thought was a SUPERB book. I can identify my all-time favourite books and their authors though, if that is any help.
1. 'Lord of the Rings' J.R.R. Tolkein
2. 'Woman on the Edge of Time' Marge Piercy
And although I have not read all their works, I am a disciple of the intellectual and humanist writings of Emma Goldman;Germaine Greer; and Mary Daly.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There is no 'inspiration'...I simply have not been able to train the dogs to provide for, and/or serve me whilst I remain abed...not to mention the more practical demands of toilette and ablutions. I mean really, is it me? Or is the concept of being 'inspired to get out of bed each day' a ludicrous one? We all do know what 'inspired' means, don't we? So if any of you are 'inspired' on a daily basis by divine influence, or creative mental stimulation, then I say you are a very fortunate minority indeed. However, I suspect the notion of inspiration is a false one spread by the wealthy and privileged in order to keep their workforce on the uninspiring hamster wheel of uninspired production. But hey! that's just my view...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
In the same survival pursuits as the rest of you a greater or lesser degree.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Er...okay, well's the thing. I warned you first up that I am old. I also warned you that lone leopards can't change their spots. So...if you transpose an 'l' for the 'e' in ebooks, and if you add 'ibrary' to the 'l' so that you have 'library books' instead of 'ebooks'...well, then you'll get the source of my literary discoveries.
Yes, I still use the local library.
I like the feel of books. I like to turn the pages. I like to mark my place by inserting my own home made and coloured bookmarks that I create from my own hand doodled doodles. Or sometimes I use a bill that I would like to avoid (which pertains to all of my bills, really) but can't. As a bookmark a bill is at least hidden for a little while.
I admit that the ereader is a phenomenal asset when travelling. Lugging hundreds of real books on one's holidays/travels is an impossibility. When they are all nicely contained within a palm-sized device however...well, there is no competition, is there? And if I travelled a lot I would certainly invest in one.
But I don' I won't.
As for how do I choose my library books?
First by genre; then by title; then by abstract. If the title grabs me, I grab the book. If the abstract promises horrific violence and gratuitous and/or graphic sex, I put it back. I don't read any of the back cover blurbs though - which is merely the opinion of other people whom I neither know nor respect, so why the hell do I care what their thoughts on the author/story/graphics/plot/theme are anyway?
Hm, now isn't that interesting? As I write I find that I DO retain some authors' names. I retain the names of those whose books I have not liked so that I don't choose them a third time. I usually have to be burned a second time before the experience sinks in.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do remember I began with poetry, not stories. I was a passionate, idealistic, and unconventional youth. I do have two poems that have survived the years. They are both about the idiocy of war - incited by the Vietnam murders at the time. Isn't it odd we use words like 'conflict' or 'war' to hide the reality that we are murdering each other on a mass scale? Isn't it even more odd that we have not matured and grown out of such barbarism despite all the eons of our existence? If only 'e' reader meant the 'erasure' of such behaviours, leaving only their ghostly sins to be read about and forever decried.
At any rate, I was about 15...I can remember that because I had to 'wag' school to go to an anti-war demonstration in King George Square. Or was it Anzac Square?
What is your writing process?
Divine inspiration?
Contractual agreement with the Devil?
It just happens...I don't know how it works
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Are you kidding? Half a century of impacts, people!
I can remember the stories that had a greater than normal impact though...because I still re-read them. (eg Lord of the Rings; Woman on the Edge of Time). No deleting 'read' stories in a paper collection.
How do you approach cover design?
Inveigle young graphic artist friend to donate his skills at the same rate of pay as I get...
Describe your desk
Okay...I just skipped a few inane questions I thought I had already answered in any case, but now I come across this one. Really? Describe my desk? That would normally be relegated to the 'inane' list and I'd skip it, but I just skipped the last three and now I am wondering how many of these questions there are? Will I be here all bloody day answering stupid questions? I only accessed this site to avoid making a profile and to have a quick break from editing...
Wireless people...wireless laptop. I am mostly to be found sitting on the deck overlooking the bush. Any desk, table, workspace I sit in or at though, will be almost obsessively neat and ordered if that's any use to you.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Leaving aside the 'growing up' business which is still a work in progress albeit an excruciatingly slow one...I believe nurture is all important. The solitary act of writing allowed the child to circle around toxic subjects without breaking the secrecy pact that the brutal family demanded; writing could be kept secret FROM the family; it was a pastime that could be enacted in just about any space; the focus of writing was a world where one preferred to live, rather than the active world in which one was forced to exist; writing certainly allowed the spiritual and passionate expressions of peace, love, and humane-ness, free from the laughter of family and peers. Yeppers, I think like many of you, the secrecy and brutality I was raised with certainly influenced my growth and writing
What are your five favorite books, and why?
ah okay...I've just worked out that the questions I've hitherto refused to answer are just repeating themselves. And they'll probably continue to do it ad infinitum, won't they? So I will have to write something to trick the programme into thinking I have answered its question when I really haven't...this text being an example of said trickery.
What do you read for pleasure?
Books (hah! stupid computer programme...)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The one that is made out of paper and has individual pages which one turns...gotchya again, stupid computer programme!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
*Yawn*...bored with you now stupid computer programme.
ps: however, this inane question did spawn question and answer number 1
Why are people not content with the tales an author wishes to share; why is there such an insatiable appetite for their lives?
Oh okay...maybe I am not so smart. Now the damn thing is asking me to write my own question.
Good grief! Okay, how about this...
When will this ever end?
Ah...wait...maybe I need to hit the 'preview and publish' icon. But if I do that, will it publish everything immediately? Maybe I want to retract some of my honesty?
Published 2013-09-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Too Dangerous To Defend
Price: $2.00 USD. Words: 170,300. Language: English. Published: September 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
'Justice In Action' are Queensland-grown vigilantes. The acronym JIA adorns products as diverse as cups to condoms whilst social debate rages on their existence. The Taskforce charged with stopping the group admit they have no clues, even after eight months and twelve executions. The public celebrates the fact that crime rates have dropped and more offenders are more harshly punished.
The Haggy Chronicles
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 53,650. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Drama/Theatrical
After reading my description of the Hagster you have probably come to suspect that there is a darker side to her writing - and you’d be right. There is. Haggy has a complex and severe mental health (MH) affliction that she’s struggled with all of her life. It’s only recently been diagnosed though - but too late to change her core thinking and belief patterns, I’m afraid. So some of her stories
The Heater Hog
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 47,010. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » European
Fire roars through over and through its victims, leaving visible scars in its wake. Fourteen year old Jason Lightfoot has learned that lesson the hard way. His next lesson will be even more painful. Jason is yet to learn that fire can also burn - unseen - within. Buried in a guilty conscience it razes love and hope and happiness - and inflames cowardice. Can he survive those flames?
The Homeless Houseguests
Series: The Ugly Detective Agency, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 74,390. Language: Australian English. Published: November 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
A good, if misguided, deed leads to a gay couple asking for help to evict their two house guests. The homeless mother and her 12 y.o. daughter have refused to leave and have ‘taken over’ the couple’s lives. The women confess to being afraid of the ‘mousey’ mother and ‘over-friendly’ child. Then the girl disappears and all evidence points to the child’s sexual abuse by the gay women.
The Ugly Detective Agency In The Case of The Stalker Mum
Series: The Ugly Detective Agency, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 64,360. Language: Australian English. Published: September 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Who better to investigate a son’s claims of his mother’s stalking, than mother and son PIs? Marilyn and Dylan Harris own ‘The Ugly Detective Agency’. When their client is abducted Dylan advises leaving it to the police, but Marilyn disagrees. Knowing her pursuits incite mayhem, Dylan forces a promise of restraint from her. But when he is kidnapped, she warns the Cosmos that all bets are off!