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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Interview: Sophia L. Johnson

To kick start my stop on the blog tour for Shadow of Deception by Sophia L. Johnson, here's my interview with the author herself! The review is also up and can be seen here.

Image credit: Dark World Books
Firstly, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Sophia. I'm a Chinese Canadian living in Toronto with my husband and daughter. I have a degree in International Business Management but after working in the corporate world for three years, I decided that's not the place I belong. So I packed my bags and went back to school for Massage Therapy and did some writing courses on the side. So now I'm a massage therapy instructor by day and a published author by night.

When did you first become interesting in writing?

Ever since high school I was always interested in writing. I had a failed attempt at writing a novel back when I was in grade nine, but high school and boys got in the way so nothing was accomplished, writing wise. Then life got even busier with university, my first job, wedding planning, first mortgage, and so on. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally had the chance and inspiration to buckle down and make this happen for real.

How do you get inspiration?

The first idea I had was Kazumi as a character. She popped into my head one night out of nowhere and I knew then that I had to write her down and give her a world where she'd be challenged. As I was writing the book, I also drew inspiration from my research. I couldn't be an expert in every aspect of the story, hence I had to do a lot of research ranging from weaponry, to fighting sequences, to how airplane engines work. I've actually learned a lot of random knowledge while writing this book.

What draws you to writing sci-fi?

I've always been a fan of sci-fi/fantasy settings. These are my go-to genres for books and movies. When reading, I like to be swept away to a foreign land that I could never otherwise visit. In writing, I love the fact that I'm creating a world that no-one knows about and I'm the director for everything that happens in that world.

Do you have any plans for the rest of the series yet?

Yes I have actually. The general story arc has been mapped out in the next two books. I'm currently working on book 2 where all the pivotal scenes are concocted - I just need to get them on a computer screen. Hopefully it won't take four years this time around!

Image credit: Sophia L. Johnson
I saw you’re donating all profits of the book to charity. What made you decide to do that?

I think it's important to give back to society. There's a lot of under-privileged people who need help and we should do whatever we can to give them a helping hand. When I finished the manuscript for Shadow of Deception, I knew then that I wanted to do something special with this book.

Why did you choose Covenant House?

The college campus I used to teach at was very close to one of their shelters. I got to witness their work in helping at-risk, abused, and homeless young people, and I was impressed by their tireless effort. Also in my teaching, I came across some under-privileged students who tried really hard to make something out of their lives despite the difficult circumstances they were in. I was touched and really wanted to help and encourage them. So when Shadow of Deception came to be, there was no doubt that Covenant House would be my charity of choice.

What’s your writing process?

Because I'm still relatively new at this, I don't think I have a set process that I follow religiously. Although one factor is certain, I need complete silence to write. I get distracted easily with noise. When I first started writing, I tried doing it at coffee shops and even book stores because I thought that's how writers do it. I wasn't a writer yet but I still wanted to look the part, you know. The result was a lot of eavesdropping on people's conversations and very little writing accomplished. So I learned quickly that I should stay as far away from people as possible if I want to write anything constructive.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

Writer's block, hands down. I experience that from time to time and it is beyond annoying. Especially when an important scene is done and suddenly you don't know where to go from there. I once sat in front of my laptop for two hours with nothing on the page. Then I learned a trick from an experienced writer where I'd stop in the middle of a scene so the next time I came back to it, I already have something to build on. It works like a charm for me.

What do you love most about writing?

I love that I have the ability to bring characters to life. I began dreaming up characters and scenarios in my head at a very young age but now I realize that wasn't enough. They need a world where they can interact with other characters. They need challenges and obstacles to learn and grow from. They need love, hate, jealousy - a rainbow of human emotions to make them real and relatable.

Image credit: Dark World Books
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I want to tell them that I was in the same boat not too long ago. The publishing industry is evolving, especially with the help of self-publishing and e-books. If you have a good story to tell, don't hesitate because there are a lot of resources out there to help you. The biggest obstacle is yourself. Stop giving excuses. Sit down and start writing. Also don't jump the gun. Don't go looking for agents and publishers before your story's finished. Focus on making your story compelling and the rest will fall into place. One step at a time. You can do it!

What’s your all-time favourite book?

I have so many favourites. If I have to choose, I'd pick one particular series that I can't seem to forget. It's an older series called Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony. His spin on our belief of what is Fate, Death, Mother Nature and so forth was brilliant and creative. It was such a fun series to read. 

Do you prefer e-books or traditional books?

Definitely traditional books. I've never read an e-book. I much prefer the weight of a paperback and the action of flipping a physical page. It feels more substantial. Besides, I love to collect bookmarks. I wouldn't want them to go to waste.

What are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading an award-winning debut novel called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's a coming-of-age high fantasy. The writing is beautiful.

To find out more about Sophia and to keep up with her latest news, visit her website or like Shadow of Deception on Facebook.

Are you a fan of Sophia L. Johnson? Let me know in the comments below!

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