Interview with Johnny Alien

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Tideswell - a small Medieval Market Town in The Peak District of England. The Peak District is an English National Park made up of winding dales and small rugged mountains. Tideswell was known, in the Middle Ages, as The King's Larder due to its abundance of wild game. I grew up there in the 1960's when little had changed since the times of Robin Hood. I'm not saying life was still that primitive, but much of the modern world's changing ways and attitudes had passed by our secluded ancient settlement. Tideswell's unique circumstances during a time of such massive social change and upheaval created, in me, an obsession with "the world beyond"! I loved Tideswell deeply, and one of the very reasons I loved it so much, was what forced me from its confines. Beautiful and sheltered, It was too limiting for a young lad infected by a curiosity born from glimpses of that "world beyond". Tideswell nurtured in me, a desire to see and experience - and to record what I saw and experienced! It was a breeding ground for curiosity and adventurism.
When did you first start writing?
I remember a love of writing stories as a small child of 6 or 7 years. This was later beaten out of me (literally) by an antiquated Church School education that could not recognize any value in my rambling tales of pirates and the like. I started to try and write again in my early twenties, but to no avail. In my early thirties I formed a band - 'Big Bad Bollocks' and began writing story songs which reflected my travels through life. By then I had been living in America for several years. The song writing experience allowed me to find my voice and I set about writing short stories and then my first full length book 'Marmite Cowboy'.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It is the extraordinary journey from English village lad to becoming an American of my own invention. Told with a lot of humor and a fair amount of grim detail. It traces the fantasies, realities and challenges of jettisoning ones self from home into the unpredictable world of the wanderer/seeker. It's a strange, and strained, American Dream!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After an early success getting published in The Massachusetts Literary Review, I was courted by agents. I soon discovered their concept of reality, for an author who works a full-time job, and is raising a family was, itself, a fiction! I needed to be able to work hard at my own pace, on my own schedule. Smashwords provides that freedom and flexibility.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is providing me the invaluable opportunity to promote, sell and develop my writing and my "Author Brand". It is a real boon to someone who prefers to make their own way in the world of writing and publishing. I love it's flexibility and ease of use. I cannot praise it highly enough!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Thinking about writing! Honestly, I really do spend a lot of time doing just that. I also like to be outside running, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, swimming - I'm a restless type who needs a lot of physical activity. Of course, all these activities allow me to simultaneously indulge in - thinking about writing!
What do you read for pleasure?
I like biographies, history, well researched historical novels. One of my favourite writers is T.C. Boyle. I particularly love his historical novel 'Water Music'. To me, it is one of the best examples of that genre.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I used to paint and draw a lot! I thought there was nothing else in the world that could possibly satisfy my need to create. I wondered how people who did not draw and paint could possibly be fulfilled or happy withe their lives? I loved creating the picture.
I rarely paint anymore, writing has replaced painting and drawing as "the" avenue for my creative energy. Writing is a much more fulfilling method of "painting" a picture. Manipulating, grafting and crafting words into the image I need to convey is such a joyful sensation. It feels boundless and is unhindered by the technicalities associated with painting. The only other thing that gives me as much satisfaction is performing with my band when the chemistry hits and we all ride the groove together. Writing trumps even that, because it is more readily available and accessible. It does not require assistance from others and can be done almost anywhere if you have a scrap of paper and a pencil! So can drawing, you may add, but words are a more immediate and lasting method of recording exactly your idea, thoughts, or your vision.
What are you working on next?
A follow up to my current book - 'Marmite Cowboy'. I may even call it 'Marmite Cowboy Rides On"?
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
As a child I wrote a rambling tale of pirates on the high seas - I do not remember the title! The first song I ever wrote was at Art School in Liverpool, England. It is called 'The Alabama Sock Experience'. I did not write another song for over ten years - its title is 'Whisky In Me Tea'. My first short story was titled 'Village', and the first story I ever got published (in the Massachusetts Literary Review) is titled 'Orifice In The Undieworld'.
Published 2013-08-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Marmite Cowboy
Price: $16.95 USD. Words: 86,970. Language: English. Published: April 15, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Travel » Road travel
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
From a 1960s working class, Northern England village, dodging malevolent old 'Church Ladies' and pissed off Grebos while dreaming of partying on the beach with The Monkees. To New York City and beyond, through the excesses of the 70s and 80s. Join me, along the trail of a wannabe American lad.