In Conversation With: Patrick Johns
Born and raised in Ramsey, New Jersey, Patrick Johns attended university at Virginia Tech, obtaining an engineering and mathematics degree. Go Hokies! However, writing is Patrick’s true passion. After writing his first novel, Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series, Patrick left his engineering job to teach English overseas. Patrick currently lives in Spain. When he’s not writing, managing his literary magazine, The Kraken’s Spire, and teaching English, he’s surfing, hiking, or traveling.
Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author Patrick Johns. Thanks for dropping by. Can I offer you anything to drink?
Thanks for having me! I’ll take a vanilla rooibos tea, shaken, not stirred.
Can do, I just happen to have some ready.
Do you consider poetry or fiction writing your forte?
At first, I considered my fiction writing my forte because it introduced me to the publishing world. But once I started publishing my fantasy books, I learned I could go back and collect all the song lyrics and poems I wrote since high school and compile everything into a poetry series. Now I’m publishing poetry books left and right. I find them easier and more fun to write because they are my true, raw emotions. Poetry is also easier to market on social media because I can fit a full poem in a post that readers can connect with. I have a feeling in my stomach that my song writing will end up being the main focus later on down the road and my books will be a treat on the side.
Funny. I started with song writing, moved to poetry, then onto fiction.
What was the first book remember reading that had an impact on you?
I remember the Redwall series sparking my interest in fantasy. I started reading that series in fourth grade. And these were hefty length books that would train me to plow through fantasy books a thousand pages thick. These medieval rodent books made me want to embark on my own heroic adventure with a sword in hand, saving a princess and the kingdom from a treacherous villain. This series influenced me to go home and scribble down my own fantasy story that ended up being an exact copy of Lord of the Rings with a hint of Star Wars and The Chronicles of Narnia.
You don’t want to be rippin’ off those authors.
What authors influenced you the most?
I first have to mention George R. R. Martin who gave me hope for writing overall. Reading his A Song of Ice and Fire series set my expectations for story writing. I love stories with gray and disturbed characters, when you can’t predict what will happen to them. Stories that leave you on the edge of the seat, wondering if your favorite character is going to die. And I also love magical realism. I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy stories involving dwarves and elves and mystical beasts. I enjoy stories that start off real, as if the world could exist today, and slowly become more and more fantasy as the story progresses. You can definitely see this type of writing reflected in my own.
And I have to give thanks to Michael Crichton, the author of my favorite movie/story of all time, Jurassic Park. But he also has other brilliant stories too. Michael Crichton is another writer who starts off with realistic stories that slowly get stranger and stranger as the story progresses. I get scared reading his books because they go to the unexpected. He’s a writer who makes worlds feel realistic.
And of course I have to mention J.K. Rowling, creating such real characters to the point where I thought they were my own best friends. I remember renaming all of my classes in my assignment pad to classes that existed in the Harry Potter universe. Potions became Science. Math became Defense Against the Dark Arts. And Gym became Quidditch. Her series defined my childhood.
Did you plan on writing a series?
Not at all. I honestly didn’t even plan on publishing. I started out writing my first book Junkland for fun. It was supposed to be thirty pages. But then thirty pages turned into fifty. Fifty turned into seventy. Seventy to a hundred. A hundred to two hundred. Next thing you know I was tubing down Harpers Ferry in summer of 2016 when the idea of a series magically popped into my head. I had to wait another hour to get to shore to write everything down. It wasn’t a forced series. It was born naturally.
Who does your cover art?
Nele Diel from Germany. She’s an incredible artist and also a wonderful person to work with. I was really fortunate to find her. I found her by reaching out to a bunch of artists on Deviant Art. She created a cover art of the exact image I was picturing in my head. Check out her work on Instagram: @nele.diel.
You wear a lot of hats—not literally, well maybe you do, I’m not here to judge personal fashion choices—Do your side jigs detract from your writing?
They definitely do. For example, I wanted to start recording my songs while writing my third fantasy book and my third poetry book. I also had to apply for jobs and figure out my life after just moving back from living in Spain for four years. I realized I was doing way too much and couldn’t fit everything into my schedule. Especially since I haven’t been able to wake up early these days because I’ve been going through a huge life change and have been stressed out lately. This frustrates me because waking up early is key to getting everything done. But it’s also important to focus on your mental health and to know when it’s time to rest.
I think it’s important to have a bunch of side gigs. Growth only happens when you continue to learn and try new things. It not only makes you a great writer, but it makes you a great human being.
What do you consider success?
I consider success to be able to live the life you want. It’s different for each person. Success for someone may be saving a lot of money from a corporate job and owning a big fancy house. While success for another could mean having a little amount of money but being financially stable owning your own business. There’s no right or wrong answer but it’s important that you define your own success and not define it in regards to society’s pressured definition of success.
You are also a musician, as am I, but I am not much of a performer. You?
I live for performing. Every time I listened to music when I was a kid, I would picture myself performing all those songs with my imaginary band. But I was a terrible singer. So I sticked to playing guitar in multiple bands in high school. But when college came around, I found it difficult to find people to play with. To solve the problem I learned how to sing and put myself alone on a stage singing covers and songs I wrote. I was awful when I first started out. But it was the only way I could play live and feel like a rock star.
Fast forward to today I am proud to say that I can actually somewhat sing. I have written thirty of my own songs. And I have been playing three hour sets at local bars. I even street performed this past summer on the boardwalk in A Coruña, Spain. Once I got behind that microphone, I knew that was what I was meant to do in life, sharing my angsty songs with the world. I would also keep my books on display by my guitar case while I played.
Are you ready for the lightning round?
Surfing. There’s nothing more satisfying than standing up and riding a wave.
Jersey Shore. Under or overrated?
If we’re talking about the show, overrated. If we’re talking about the beaches, underrated! I’ve been to a lot of beaches in my life and New Jersey still has some of the nicest beaches I’ve been to. It’s all about the sand quality. New Jersey beaches have great sand. And the Jersey Shore is filled with great boardwalk fun. It’s also filled with a lot of narly surf spots!
The only thing I don’t like is that New Jersey makes people pay to go on the beach during the summer. They say it’s to pay the lifeguards and maintain the beaches but that’s a total lie. Beaches all over the world have lifeguards and are maintained but don’t charge people $12 to go on them for a day.
Platypus. Fan or not?
Big fan. I once had a platypus beanie baby that made me extra curious about this animal.
Santander, Spain. I had one of the best summers of my life when I au paired here. It’s a city built around the ocean and nature. So you get the best of both worlds; you can go out and party one night, and the next day you can hike endless cliffs along the coast. Santander also has some of the hottest surfing spots in Spain.
What’s your non-magical power?
Everyone’s always very impressed when I can spot what song is playing softly in the background inside a loud restaurant. In general, I get compliments about how aware I am to things that others don’t see right away. I think that’s what makes me a great writer.
What’s the one word you always spell incorrectly?
This has been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting. Any links you want to share?
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok: @patrickjohnswrites
Poetry by Leon Stevens: My Poetry Page
The story behind Free Book Friday:
I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?
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Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella trilogy, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.
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