Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interview with YA author C. S. Johnson

YA author C. S. Johnson is here today to talk about herself and the first book in her Starlight series, The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering.

Let’s get to it.

C. S. Johnson was born in western Pennsylvania, but considers world travel a top priority. Her novel, The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering won 2nd place in the 2012 Munch Writing Contest. It is the first in an epic young adult series. She writes in a variety of genres, including young adult, fantasy/sci-fi, and spiritual/apologetic fiction. She currently lives in Atlanta with her family, cats, and caffeine addiction.

Welcome, C.S. Please tell us about your current release.
The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering is the first book in an epic young adult series. It is set in high school, focusing on the life of Hamilton Dinger. Hamilton is a narcissistic, charismatic show-off, who is the leader of his group of friends. He is very cynical about life in general, but when he is confronted with a supernatural incident, he finds out he is a fallen star, and capable of superhero abilities. He is then faced with the choice to fight the supernatural evil which slowly begins to exert its power over his city, or do nothing. Along the way, prompting him to step up, are his ‘mentor,’ Elysian (a judgmental changeling dragon), and his ‘co-defender,’ Starry Knight, another superhero who definitely knows what she is doing. All together it makes a very fun, funny story with eternal implications.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired largely to write the book because of Hamilton’s superhero name (given to him by the media in his story), which is Wingdinger. I thought the name was brilliant (I thought of this in high school, so give me a break) and I really wanted to bring him to life, with “Dinger” as his last name. “Hamilton,” was a name which lent itself some character, but also allowed me to define his character on his own terms. The name means “beautiful mountain” according to Babycenter, anyway, and I thought it would be a fun play on scenarios to have faith move a mountain.

(This is the excerpt from the first time Hamilton meets Starry Knight, with whom he will share a complicated connection. It is a cornerstone moment in the series, which will build on itself over and over throughout the rest of their story.)

            It was then that I heard it. The lulling tune of a harp poured out from out of nowhere. My familiar melody. I stilled. It was the song from my dreams. 
            Maia heard it, too, and seethed. “I know that melody...” she whispered. “Show yourself!” she commanded.
            The tune became louder as I looked all around. “There!” I cried out, as I saw her.
            There’s a girl, if she could be called a girl, on the roof of the school building behind us. She was standing tall, playing the harp next to her. Her long brownish-red hair gave her an element of gracefulness even as the rigidity of her armor lent her strength.
            Gwen saw her and gasped. “She’s lovely!”
            I felt like saying the same. The girl was no ordinary girl. She had wings – white wings, like an angel. A smaller pair of wings fluttered out of her head, while a pair of glimmering silver chains draped over her forehead were pulled into the half-bun at the back of her head. A long, bright red feather dangled in her hair, contrasting pointedly with the blue and violet of her leather tunic.
            She finished the last line of her pretty piece and then snapped her eyes open.
            I felt a twinge inside me. Even from this far away, I knew her eyes were a captivating shade of violet, speckled with starlight.
            “Who are you?” I couldn’t resist the urge to ask.
            She didn’t answer me, but turned her full attention to Maia. She held up a half-gloved hand and reached into the sky. A second later, a bright arrow appeared in her hand, and her harp transformed itself into a bow.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a variety of stories, mainly book 2 of the Starlight series, tentatively entitled, Calling, where more supernatural adventures await Hamilton and his friends, and also on my adult fiction debut with Soul Descent, which is a social critique/social response on a number of my favorite and least favorite topics.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think I ever thought of myself as a writer, truly, consciously, until I was in high school working on my first pieces of longer fiction. But as a child, I would write a lot in school. The teachers had to let me write on the adult notepad program in the computer lab because the child-level one let me write in large print a LONG story which turned out to be over 28 pages. This was quite a bit more, considering most people were writing somewhere around 5. My academic rival, Tommy Baer, wrote about 10. Probably the idea dawned on me in close to 5th grade, when my reading teacher, Mrs. Johnson (coincidence, not-related) read my creative writing essay aloud in class because I was writing on a much higher level than everyone else. But I know it never occurred to me that I could make a living doing it, although that has become my most ardent dream of late.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work as a teacher and an online tutor. I am also a wife, mother, and first-time homeowner. It is very hard to find time to write between everything, but writing has to be a priority. I dream of the day when everything is working like it is supposed to, everything is done and clean, and everyone is happy, content, and accomplished. But it will probably never happen, so life goes on.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
In terms of words-writing, I use a lot of parentheses (a LOT of parentheses). It’s a good attention-getter, a good signal to keep reading.

For story-writing, I talk aloud like my characters would. I tell people all the time I would’ve made a great actress if I could only get past the idea that I look stupid when I’m not myself. And my performance anxiety.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
There were lots of things, but I wanted to be a missionary most of all. I always wanted to travel, and I have had the chance to go on missions trips all over the world, so I thought it would be a good fit. I’m not really in mobile mode at the moment, so in most of my writing I tend to bring in the question of God or the supernatural somewhere. That was really my biggest problem with The Hunger Games. Where did religion go? Religion has never, historically, completely disappeared from a culture.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
It’s funny how you can look at someone or something and see something completely different from somebody else. We see people, and things, but do we actually look at them? I don’t know. But the book is the embodiment of my hopes and my attempts to live “the dream,” and I hope you find that same affirmation in your own dreams that I find within its pages and characters. Plus it is hilarious. Need I say more?

Ways to connect and find the book:

People can find the book here:
The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering (Book 1 of the Starlight series) can be found at,,, and

Thanks for stopping by today, C.S. and letting us get to know you a little bit. Happy writing!

No comments: