Author Interview: Johnny Worthen

1: Would you rather listen to the Beatles or Green Day?
Beatles. I like some Green Day. I grew up between the two of them, but the Fab Four are nearer my heart.
2: How long did it take you to write your book?
If you exclude the pre-writing, which can really go back to my birth, the actual writing time for Eleanor was just over a month. Really. I’m a full time writer. I began it on February 20th, and had put the last period on the first draft March 28th. She wrote herself. I just took dictation.
3: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Oh, it is Eleanor. She is my daughter, my protagonist, my strong shy girl who has to hide her wonders to survive. She’s extraordinary, but can’t show it. She loves but can’t dare. She’s lonely and loves. She is my Eleanor. I dream of her still and often.
4: Do you prefer salty or sweet snacks?
Sweet. I’m a fat man.
5: What authors do you look up to and why?
Elmore Leonard taught me cool and can drive a story like a piston. I miss him. He died recently. Octavia Butler, also passed on too soon. She whispered encouragement as I wrote Eleanor. Her Earthseed books should be required reading. I mourn she didn’t get to write the last one. Tim Dorsey is a talent after my own madness. He’s still alive. It’s on my bucket list to meet him. With any luck, by the time I do, he’ll know who I am, if only for having read my name on the restraining orders. Honorable and enduring mention to Cormac McCarthy who is arguable one of the greatest writers alive right now. Brad Pitt movie aside.
6: Which author do you think you write like the most?
That’s a tough one. I write what I like to read. I write a lot of genres, dark fiction, humor, young adult, paranormal, mystery, thriller. My style changes depending on the genre and how I present the story. First person obviously has a totally different style than my third. It’s much different to create suspense than set up a joke. I come from a literary background, criticism. I’m one of those tiresome authors who deliberately place symbols in their books. I call it upmarket because it’s not quite literary fiction. Stuff happens. As such, I strive for Elmore Leonard’s dialog, Cormac McCarthy’s poetic prose, Octavia Butler’s purpose and Tim Dorsey’s surprises.
7: What’s your favorite food?
I cook a lot of Indian food. I like it and can’t always afford it. So I make it. It’s right up there. I swore off beef for decades for fear of Mad Cow and such. I’ve softened now and will eat beef if it’s a cut and not processed. When I sell a book, I go out to dinner and have the Prime Rib. That kinda’ says where I’m at.
8: What’s your favorite movie?
Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. It was going to be my Master’s Degree Thesis. I was going to argue, before it became a common perception, that Deckard was a Replicant. Not an easy sale in the original voice-over, edited version.
9: If your book was turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?
Eleanor would have to be an unknown actress. I’m sure of that. She’d need to have the characteristics of my shy protagonist, the inner strength. A new Jody Foster before anyone knows her name. If she’s a big star it’ll detract from the character and movie. She should be a big star after the series is over of course, but at the beginning, she should be unknown. Tabitha can be someone famous, should be. The other adults too could be recognizable, but the kids should be new and fresh.
10: Describe your book in one sentence.
Shy, afraid, unremarkable, Eleanor Anders is not what she appears to be.
11: What kind of interaction do you hope to see from your fans?
I hope my fans will sense the themes involved, the struggle to be different while needing to fit in. I want them to see in Eleanor a metaphor for their own lives, the terrible struggles we all face and the strong nobility of overcoming them. We are all contradictions, we are all afraid, all the time.
12: Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
I am an extrovert. I don’t just talk up a room, I draw energy from people in it. I give good meeting. I’m a frequent panelist at conventions and teach classes on what not to do as a writer (still don’t know what to do). I studied acting in school and have done some stand-up. I hide my insecurities with jokes and by controlling the situation. It’s a defense mechanism. I’m a writer. I’m sensitive to a fault and need to protect myself.
13: If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
William Shakespeare. The Bard himself. I’d just like to see him work, shake his hand, see if I can understand him when he speaks.