Today I have an interview with John B. Rosenman, author of several books, mostly in the science fiction genre. His latest book, Inspector of the Cross was released in April of this year.
Writing the whole thing and revising, revising, revising it. Anyone can get instant inspiration and dash off a first paragraph, a first page, or even a first chapter. But sustaining the momentum when inspiration flags, finding the time day after day to do it even when you don’t feel like it, ah, that’s the true test. And then you have to have a thick skin and listen to criticism, saving your ego for the book itself in order to make it as fine as possible. And then you have to promote it, because these days more than ever before, writing and promotion flow into each other, as they do in this interview.
Actually, I have at least two favorite parts. One is when the book sings and flows like the wind in your soul, and you feel that you’re swept along by sheer inspiration. At times it’s like glorious dictation, and all the muses are your friend, supplying new ideas and golden words.
Another part is revision, where you strive to make the book better and better by phrasing, word choice, deepening your characterization, and by a thousand other different ways. For example, in my revision of Inspector of the Cross, I strengthened Turtan’s symbolic role as a Christ figure who doesn’t even acknowledge and even debunks his spiritual role as a savior. And Dr. Glitch, a female computer who loves Turtan, has more of an integral role.
Well, I’ve always been one. It’s just that I didn’t always know I wanted to be one. In our society, in general, there is little provision for being a professional writer. Just ask yourself: How often have you gone to a job fair and seen signs that read “Authors Wanted,” or “Poets Apply Here”? How many companies are actively hiring fiction writers or poets? None.
So the desire to be a writer and make up stories always lived inside me, fed early on by my father who told me bedtime stories about John (pronounced Yun-co in Yiddish) when I was a wee little one. He also introduced me to novels like Men of Iron. In addition, I used to lie in the dark and listen to radio programs like “Inner Sanctum” and “The Shadow.” I think all that fueled my imagination and led me to write comic strips and make up stories when I was a small kid.
It took twenty-five years to write Inspector of the Cross. Okay, let me clarify that. I first wrote it twenty-five years ago in longhand on a yellow legal pad and used a typewriter to produce a ms I could send out to publishers. I started at the beginning and scribbled right through to the end.
It came pretty easily, and I received no critiques or input until I submitted it for publication. The novel was rough and crude and yet it was almost taken by a fairly good publisher. One fellow there really liked it. He showed it to the head honcho who turned it down for various reasons, the main one being it didn’t fit their fictional franchise.
Thank God they turned it down. Fortunately, the fellow who liked it went through the novel page by page and made exhaustive comments and criticisms which later proved helpful.
Twenty-two years later, in 2009, I took the typed version of Inspector and began to type the whole thing on my computer, editing and making changes as I went along. At that time I had been a member of a writers’ group for seventeen or eighteen years. I’d give them about twenty pages at a time, and they’d take the chapters, write comments and corrections on them, and bring them to the next meeting of the group two weeks later.
Thus I went through the novel once again, taking into consideration their input and making what changes I thought were best. And, of course, I reread Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, a novel that also features a hero who through suspended animation lives a super-long life during a seemingly endless war. In Inspector of the Cross, Turtan is nearly 4,000 chronological years old.
Then I submitted it to MuseItUp Publishing online, a publisher I enjoyed working with. It was accepted, and I worked with two superb editors, Content Editor Chris Speakman and Line Editor Penny Ehrenkranz. Their input was excellent and insightful, and Inspector went through yet another facelift. Actually, multiple facelifts that greatly improved the novel still more.
After that, I read the whole thing over and made a few more relatively minor changes, such as emphasing the fact that Turtan is history’s greatest knight.
Then, after exhaustively going through the galley, Inspector was finally born, the beneficiary of many readers’ contributions and insight.
In Inspector of the Cross, it’s Turtan followed closely by Turois, his alien counterpart and bitter enemy. Somehow, though, they come to love each other, though Turtan is slower to accept it. In the sequel which I’m writing now, Kingdom of the Jax, Yaneta, Turtan’s alien spouse, is fast winning me over. You know, sometimes your characters surprise you and develop a life of their own.
In other books, I love Stella McMasters of Beyond Those Distant Stars, Dax of Dax Rigby, War Correspondent, and . . . well, I could go on and on. Most of my novels are science-fiction romantic adventure stories with huge, mind-stretching concepts, and I like to create heroes who are ordinary people until they confront extraordinary challenges. I like to feel I’m a believer in ultimate democracy. So often, ordinary people you wouldn’t look at twice have the potential to achieve greatness, sometimes on a cosmic scale.
About John B. Rosenman
John recently retired as an English professor at Norfolk State University where he designed and taught a course in how to write Science fiction and Fantasy. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and has published approximately 350 stories.
Thanks to suspended animation, Turtan is over 3500 years old and travels on freeze ships to distant worlds. His mission is to investigate weapons to help humanity turn the tide against their ancient nemesis…the Cenknife. Vicious aliens, the Cenknife seek to conquer the universe and enslave humanity.
When Turtan discovers just such a weapon, a beautiful, seductive woman stands in his way. He must use all his skills, abilities, and courage to meet the crisis and save untold billions of lives.