Hi, I’m A. H. Johnstone, Author, editor, and part-time Viking. Live in rural Northamptonshire with my husband, three kids and seven cats (not joking). I love all manner of arts and crafts and always have a project on the go. I’m currently writing in fantasy, but I plan to branch out with the odd historical fiction in the not too distant future.
- When did you first discover your love for writing?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, but in 2016 I decided to stop being a wussy and write with the intent to publish.
- Do you have a favourite place to write?
My desk in my living room is my zone, and I am extremely territorial over it. It’s the one place in the house that I regard as completely mine. It might only be eight square feet, but everyone needs their own space.
- Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
I try to squeeze in a couple of hours a week to focus on my own writing. I’m a freelance editor and a mum of three under tens, so time to myself comes at a premium and I have to be quite selective with how I fill it (until someone figures out a way to make the days longer: answers on a postcard please).
- Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
More than anything, I love Neil Gaiman’s brand of weirdness. He takes the surreal and turns it into something truly wonderful. Other favourites are Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett. As far as I am concerned, the Discworld series is an act of sheer genius, and the literary world will feel his loss for many years to come. While the Discworld books were funny and light-hearted on the surface, he dealt some quite serious contemporary issues. What made them funny was the fact they make you think. If anything, I’d love to write as well as Pratchett did and Gaiman does.
- What inspired you to write Charon Unguarded
With Charon Unguarded, I had a mad idea and ran with it. I’m still trotting along with books 2 and 3, but The Bet is the prequel, and covers the ‘Hows?’ ‘Whys?’ and ‘What-the-hell-fors?’ of Charon Unguarded. They were both a lot of fun to write.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
Imagine a situation where the old gods are stuck in the mortal world after losing a drunken bet, and the shenanigans that follow.
- Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
In the Bet? It’s got to be Cassandra. She’s full of fizz and does not take no for an answer. She’s got all the confidence and sass, I wish I had.
- Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
Above all the series highlights the dangers of apathy, complacency, selfishness, and assumption. Most of the problems my MCs face (or cause) occur because they acted without thinking about the consequences or considering the impact their actions have on others. One person can make a difference, but that difference is not always a positive one.
- Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
‘Why have we been dragged here, Ra? We are not puppets to have our strings pulled! You know the law. Only the Council has the authority to summon us like this,’ a gravelly voice demanded. Its owner, Zeus, occupied the chair at the head of the long table and was leaning back, with his expensive loafer-clad feet on the table. Ra ignored the deliberate insult of refusing to give up his seat to an older god. It wasn’t the law, but it had long been custom to show respect to the elders of other Pantheons.
Charon held his breath as Ra sauntered across the floor between the hoard of irritable gods and the algae encrusted window. He clearly enjoyed holding the attention of the room.
‘I quite understand.’ His voice remained calm and level. He gave a half smile which did not meet his eyes. ‘I know very well who each of you is and where your loyalties lie. I am also certain that you need no introductions to one another.’ He walked to the window. ‘I am sorry to disappoint you, but grudges and scores will not be dealt with here or now.’ Staring out over the field to watch the train pass in the distance. ‘I invite you here for one reason alone; to give you notice to tidy your affairs. Settle your arguments and make what peace you can before we leave. I have found a way home.’
- What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing Charon Unguarded?
Imposter syndrome has been a massive challenge in the last couple of years but getting Charon Unguarded signed with Bolide was a massive boost to my confidence. I’m also fairly reserved as a person which tends to come out in my characters during early drafts.
- What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing XXX?
That I need to have more faith in my own abilities and learn to accept praise on face value. I’m rubbish at taking compliments.
- Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Don’t look for perfection, you won’t find it. Practice will help you improve, but no story will ever be flawless.
- And finally, do you have any future works planned?
Yes. I’m working on a short story for submission to Analog Magazine, I have a historical fiction in outline, and of course books 2 and 3 of the Ferryman Saga. Plenty to keep me out of mischief. In theory.