Welcome, C. S.!
A Little About
The Heights of Perdition
Driven by vengeance, Exton Shepherd never set out to save anyone. As he circles the war-torn world in his pirated starship, the Perdition, he only sees his father's ghost lurking around every corner and the looming darkness on the horizon. When Aerie unexpectedly tumbles into his life, he finds he cannot trust her, anymore than he can ignore her. But just like the raging war down on Earth, it's tempting to think he can ...
When the war ascends to the heights of the Perdition, Aerie's loyalty, and Exton's heart, are put to the test. But will love be enough to save them - and others - from certain destruction?
Author Rating: PG-13. The war is a big focus of the series, and even if it is not graphic violence in Book 1, the series will continue to develop this. The idea of romance is explored some, too, and even though it is clean, it would be less accessible for someone younger than a teenager.
Then Things You Should Know
About C. S. Johnson
I have a couple of distinctive playlists for writing, and it often varies when I am trying to capture the mood of a scene or I am trying to encourage myself. I’ve heard that creative personalities live suspended between crippling self-doubt and high-end narcissism, but I’m more prone to the self-doubt end. It is a full-time job to be my own motivational coach and writer.
2. What is the first thing you remember writing?
One of the first things I remember writing was an assignment in fourth grade. I was talking about my trip to Penn State (I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, so cities were gradually introduced to me) and my parents were exceedingly proud of me. I wrote how I saw the city four times while my dad was looking for free parking to go to the stadium to see the Lady Lions play, and they thought this was hilarious. I was being honest, but it was more sarcastic to them. It was the first time I realized the power of humor, and began to suspect I had a good deal of it. Most of my writing is satiric in some way or another.
3. Have you ever named a character in honor of someone you know?
I actually do this a lot. Sometimes I will find someone with a name I like and write a character around it, or I will become attached to people and write them into my stories. I have several people who know which person is a tribute to them in my books, and several who would never guess. Sometimes, if I feel like the person in question will hate it, or they have told me flat-out not to do it, I will change it. But I will use it as an opportunity to cast part of their character into a specific frame work.
4. At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”
This is something I struggle with on a consistent basis. I began writing when I was younger, and I had my first book published in 2007 through a vanity publisher. I had the book sent to me while I was in my first semester at college, and a number of my peers were impressed (I don’t think my professors were though). I got the rights back this past year and put it up on Amazon. It still gets decent reviews, which, considering it has been almost ten years since it was published the first time, I am surprised. Publishing and writing has changed a lot in the last ten years, and we are starting to see that in the industry. My more poetic and uber-descriptive writing would not sell as well as my more recent work, and it’s a challenge to balance it out.
I felt better when I won second place in Munce Magazine’s 2012 writing contest. My mother suggested it to me, and I entered my first book since college in it. Once they published it as result of the contest, I felt more like an author. It helped a lot, too, because I had graduated college and I was feeling so stuck in a terrible teaching job. Once I got that book published, especially since I’d competed with several other authors and writers of what I consider a higher-caliber writing level, I felt better about being called an author. I still prefer “writer,” since not everything I write I publish
Today, I feel more comfortable saying I am an author now that I have finished my Starlight Chronicles series (it’s easier to sell a series) and I have more planned.
5. What is one of your favorite/go-to writing resources?
I think it’s one of my favorite sort of ironies that I don’t actually read a lot of fantasy but I like to write it. I think that’s because fantasy has such a wide diversity within it—just because you like one author, doesn’t mean the next one will have worlds with similar structure or spells or world rules. Most genres are like that, but fantasy has the wildest range of rules and breaking the rules, in my experience. So when it comes to writing, even though I write fantasy, I tend to write more about people. That’s why when I get stuck, I like to read memoirs. I just finished Andrew Klavan’s The Great Good Thing, and cried at the end. I’m a big fan of Elie Wiesel’s work, too, as a carryover from high school. I read Night and the sequels, Dawn and Day, and it’s that sort of writing that reminds me all over again that for me, it’s not the story so much as the people—even if the story has to make sense and be well-written, too. So if I’m writing and I get stuck, I take a break and read.
6. What project are you working on now?
I’m working through book 2 of my Divine Space Pirates trilogy, The Breadth of Creation. It’s the second book of my series, and it explores the themes of love and trust, and the cost that comes with choices, and the sacrifices people will make for family and love—even if there are negative consequences of those choices.
7. Have you always liked to write?
Yes, pretty much. It was something I always gravitated toward as a kid, and I feel like an artist who uses words to paint pictures and sort through ugly messes to find the beauty and meaning behind it all (I don’t always succeed.)
8. Do any of your characters sound/look like famous actors in your head?
No, not particularly. I like living in my own world, and I like to get to design people with their own personalities and quirks. I think it is almost too easy to parody a character if it’s based off someone famous, especially if the famous person in question is someone I like to avoid thinking of (there are a lot of depressing and irritating people in Hollywood, it’s hard to deny.)
Now, that being said, I think a lot of my villains are inspired by political figures …
9. Do you write/read every single day?
I try to. It’s hard when I have two small kids (two under five), but it’s gotten better in the last couple of months.
10. What is one of your favorite beverages/snacks while writing?
One of the best, weirder things I remember someone writing about on this issue is about protein. The guy recommends eating protein to help the brain stay awake. So, when I am feeling ravenous and I know I have to work, even if I don’t feel like it, I’ll chug down a protein shot. It tastes like cherry medicine, but if you follow it with tea or some juice, it works. It keeps me full for about three or four hours so I can write consistently without having to worry about getting interrupted.