Interview with Robert Allen Johnson

What's the story behind your latest book?
"Rising Sun" is the first book in a series entitled MAGNUS, which is the Latin word for "Great." The series retells the story of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (known in the West as Pompey the Great) and Book One covers the years 16-26 of his life. "Rising Sun" focuses on his sudden and improbable rise to prominence in Ancient Rome at the end of the Italian Social War.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy comes in the discovery each new page brings! While I predominantly focus on Historical Fiction based around real events, I invest a lot of time and effort into the emotion, relationships and consequences surrounding those events. Whether it's a triumph, defeat, death or birth, I love to express those feelings and give life to a historical event from thousands of years ago.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are my lifeblood. While I find happiness and joy in the writing process, it would mean nothing without someone to read and appreciate my hard work. Knowing I have a group of people that support me and enjoy my work means the world to me.
What are you working on next?
I'll be deep in the story of Pompey the Great for the rest of 2014.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a long list I could post, but will limit it to a handful: Bernard Cornwell, Steven Saylor, Colleen McCullough, Ian Rankin, Amy Tan, Robert Harris, Allan Massie, JRR Tolkien
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have a loving family in my wife and two kids. On top of this, I'm the eternal optimist, so each new day is a chance to enjoy life in its fullest.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a big family man, so I spend a lot of time going out and enjoying time with my wife and kids. I enjoy cooking and trying to express my creativity in food. I also play guitar and try to squeeze in time for that as often as I can.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! It was called "The Oak Trees of Yak's Crown." I began writing it around the age of eight and toyed with it through the years. It was the story of a secret clan of monkeys that inhabited a forest in Britain; something of a cross between Planet of the Apes, Robin Hood and a Disney movie, I suppose.
How do you approach cover design?
We've all been instructed to not judge a book by its cover, right? While this advice is completely understandable, it is, in truth, rarely heeded. The cover is the first thing that catches a reader's eye and convinces him/her to actually pick up the book. The cover design, therefore, is crucial to a book's initial success. I believe a cover needs to represent the story, themes, mood and author's personality in a single image. First impressions are always vital!
What do you read for pleasure?
I always keep an eye out for my favorite authors and pick up their new releases as soon as I can. I enjoy mysteries with character depth, such as Steven Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" series and Ian Rankin's more modern detective series starring John Rebus. Any time an author combines mystery and Ancient Rome, you can usually count me in.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle all the way!
Published 2014-03-12.
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