Interview with Author of Seven Days Dead, Christopher M. Johnson

Christopher M. Johnson takes his readers on a journey through Jerusalem–while it’s crawling with zombies. Still want to come along?

“I wanted a real response to a terrifying situation.”

– Christopher M. Johnson on his new book, Seven Days Dead
Q: What inspired you to write this book? 
Well, there were a couple of things that made me want to write this.  Firstly, I got tired of reading books about fantastic concepts and finding that many authors felt that ‘suspended disbelief’ could also extend to their characters having outlandish luck, or for circumstances to almost divinely work out.  I wanted a real response to a terrifying situation.  I wanted people to be in reasonable positions, using items reasonably expected to be available.  I didn’t want my main character to just happen to be a virologist who also happened to be trained by the military and just happened to be immune, if you catch my meaning.  Secondly, I wanted to take a place filled with people who have been warring on each other for centuries and strip away all the man-made divisions; to give them a common enemy that put their shared humanity into perspective.
Q: Did your time in military service help you write it?
Oh definitely.  I was able to draw on training to put a realistic spin on the actions of some of the characters.  To provide a sort of real world sit rep dialogue, where the characters would assess their situations, take inventory of their assets against their liabilities, and to adapt to changes in the mission–which was ultimately to survive.  In the real world things change, and the first casualty of war is always “the plan”, so having at least one character who was used to having to “adapt and overcome” was pretty much a requirement.
Q: What challenges did you have while writing it?
Time!  Always time.  I have three boys that I have with me all the time, and I’m a single father since my divorce in 2014. So many, many, times during the creation of this book, I was startled to see that I often started writing in the PM and finished writing in the AM.  Aside from that, much of the time was spent in research;  I wanted realism, and that also meant that the landscapes and places had to be real.  The entire route that the characters take is authentic and so are the landmarks.  If you followed along on Google Earth or Maps, you would (in many cases) be able to go down to the Street View and see the roads, the towns, the villages, the landmarks, and the terrain described in the book.
Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)?
First and foremost I want them to feel satisfied that they had an adventure.  I want them to look at the characters’ actions and think, “That’s exactly what I would have done!” or “Thank God he didn’t find some magical cure!”  But as a back drop, I want them to realize that people are just people.  That a lot of our divisions are self-created and that no matter your skin color, ethnicity, religion, or culture, we are all brothers and sisters and that no one is more or less important than another.  It’s almost a social commentary.  You will note that one of my favorite characters was Christine, who was not cast in the role of a simple love interest, nor a “fearful woman” or any other stereotype.  These characters evolved, like real people, and each and every one of them had individual value.
Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in? 
Ok, I know it’s overdone, but Lord of the Rings.  I love the fantastic daily lives that these people lived within the story. Wizards, demons, magic, swords, and gods.  There you could become what you had in you to be.
Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do?
Raise kids!  But I have other pursuits, too.  I’m a Freemason so I’m very involved with my lodge trying to find ways in which we can do the most good for the most people, and to grow what I believe is the greatest fraternal organization in the world.  I read and research religions from an anthropological standpoint, and I’ve taken a recent interest in the attempts to decode the Voynich Manuscript.  I blacksmith a little (though with the state of my back, it’s really more like I tell my middle son how to do things and then supervise.  Swinging a hammer is, sadly, beyond the pale of my abilities anymore).
Q: What else have you written? What else do you write? 
I’ve written a book on obtaining VA benefits for veterans called, VA Benefits – The Definitive Guide to Obtaining Your Benefits From the Department of Veterans Affairs, based largely on my own 10 year fight to get mine.  I’ve also written a short book on religion called, Be Ye Therefore Wise as Serpents: A Genealogy of Faith.  And I’ve compiled a few ancient texts together in the area of ancient philosophy.  All of them are available on Amazon and my Author Page at: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00L3SCI4Y
Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?
My “studio” is a computer desk in my Florida room.  It’s a mess.  As to where I feel inspired to write, it kind of just hits me and I turn the idea over in my head virtually all day for a while before I even hit the first key on my keyboard.
Q: Of all the character’s you have written, do you have a favorite?
I enjoy the main character of Seven Days Dead, Tal.  He’s authentically flawed, and self-deprecating, but he also–deep down inside–has the heart of a hero and does the right thing even when it hurts him personally.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing?
I’ve read since forever and always wanted to write, but in 8th grade we were given an assignment to come up with a myth to explain some natural phenomenon or another.  It was the first time I ever got an “A+++”.  It was also the last time.  But my teacher came to me and said that I needed to be a writer, so I thought maybe I could….
Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now?
Honestly, I hope it gets no different.  I would be immeasurably sad to see the death of the paper book.  There’s a world of issues that can crop up with keeping the entirety of human literature in digital format, and the possible ways that it could all be lost are legion.  Plus it’s super hard to dog ear an eReader or to flip pages to cross reference.
Learn more about Christopher M. Johnson by visiting the following:
 www.cjauthor.com, on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/cjwordsmith and on Twitter at @johnsoncm.
-E
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