Today, I got the chance to speak with Mark Johnson, New Zealand author of the FireWall series. We chatted about his writing habits and his upcoming works.
Hi, Mark! Thank you for joining me here. Could you tell us about your new book release (if any)?
I’m in the middle of a series about a paladin who must defend a god’s life. The first book is The Renegade Within. It’s about a woman charged with covering up a disaster on behalf of her superiors, only to find out they’re hiding an even worse experiment from her. I’ve just published the third book of six, and the fourth is out in November.
Sounds exciting! I see it’s only $0.99 on Amazon; sounds like a steal. So what’s the first book you ever remember reading?
The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.
What inspired you to start writing?
The fact I couldn’t stop. I’d always go through phases of writing, then throw it all away happily. I never considered ‘actually’ writing, because I live in New Zealand. Then Amazon delivered the kindle and now everything’s different!
New Zealand is a stunning country, and I didn’t know it restricted writers so much until recently. I’m glad it didn’t stop you from following your dreams! Who is your main inspiration?
My hero, Robert Jordan.
Great choice! Aside from writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks as I go for a walk or a run. I’m also a sucker for a good RPG. My faves are Assassin’s Creed and Fallout 76.
RPGs are awesome. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is coming in November and should be a blast (and a great procrastination tool, oops). So Mark, tell me about your writing space. Where do you usually write?
We cleared out a spare storage room to become my study. Works pretty well!
A cosy little office sounds perfect. Are you a morning or night person? What time of day do you prefer to sit and write?
Definitely a night person. In the morning I do admin, and in the evening when my brain settles down, I write. On a good night I’ll get about 3,000 words, but usually I’ll get about 1,000 done.
Even one word is a step closer to your next finished project. Speaking of writing, do you plan out your stories or are you a pantser (making it up as you go along)?
A bit of both. I have an end-goal in mind, with some character arcs along the way. Then the story changes on me and I find myself in a different book to the one I imagined, and I have to go back and change the beginning.
That must be a wild ride. What’s your favourite book genre? Do you write in that genre?
Epic fantasy! But I’m also a sucker for a good murder mystery.
Tell me your top three favourite books of all time.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan, and Rejoice by Steven Erikson.
Have you ever read a book that changed your life?
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. This book came into my life at a time when I was wanting good, timeless advice that didn’t come through the filters of my home culture. For many years I made a habit of reading it each year. I even had a reading of a passage from it at our wedding.
That’s amazing. I’ve never heard of someone reading some of their favourite book at their wedding before! So who is your favourite book character who you’ve created?
I’d have to say my protagonist Terese. It’s not easy to be called to defend a god’s life, if you’ve got so many regrets and other places you want to be. But being given a ton of new information will do that do your head.
She’s a strong character for sure. Most people would crack under the kind of pressure she goes through. Tell us about your latest book!
It’s the third book in my FireWall series, The Night Princess. It uses dual timelines to unwrap a mystery that’s been going on for the first two books.
I bet dual timelines are a difficult concept to portray, but you nailed it! For those who don’t know, I got the opportunity to read The Night Princess before release. be sure to check out Mark’s FireWall series! OK, something unrelated to writing! If you could go on a date with any celebrity, living or dead, who would it be and why?
It’d have to be my inspiration, Robert Jordan. I’d have so many questions. From his interviews, I gathered that his creative process was a little like mine. He had an overall strategy and plan that adapted as each book and as the series went on. I’d ask him how he dealt with that and barrelled through it. I’d also be curious what advice he’d give to someone searching of the truth within a society riven by social media co-opting and mistreating the truth. He dealt with competing perspectives a lot in his work, and I’d love to hear his wisdom on the topic.
Sounds that that’d be an interesting conversation. Thank you for joining me today, Mark! Where can we find out more about you?
Check out Mark Johnson’s works below: