Interview: Sharon M Johnston

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing our very own lovely S. M. Johnston, author of the upcoming novel Sleeper, from Entranced Publishing, on sale this month.

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Aussie Owned & Read: When did you first think: I’m going to be a writer?
S. M. Johnston:  I can’t pinpoint it completely, but it basically didn’t become real for me until I got the offer from Entranced. I’d had some success with short stories. It felt like such a long road to publication (even though it was probably quiet average for a debut author) that I was disheartened a few times.
It wasn’t something I grew up thinking I’d make a career of it. I was taught that you get a sensible career, like a lawyer or an accountant. My dad was a financial planner, but wrote poems for fun, and I thought I’d be like that too. In fact, I started a dual degree in Law/Economics before I realised that wasn’t for me. I ended up in corporate communication and public relations, so I still was writing for work. I’ve wanted to be a professional fiction writer for the past four years. But it was only at the beginning of 2013 that it became a reality for me.
Aussie Owned & Read: Sleeper is a NA Sci Fi, which is quite a different genre for this age bracket. What intrigued you about this concept?
S. M. JohnstonActually, when I wrote Sleeper, I had never heard of New Adult. I wrote it as a Young Adult novel, and it probably would still be classified as Young Adult if it was with an Australian publisher as the MC is age is similar to Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James. Even though I had a proper YA version as well as an Australian agent asked for a revise and resubmit with Mishca being high school aged instead of at university. But that meant I had to remove the original concept of Mishca falling in love with her university professor, ’cause that would be creepy for a high schooler. And that’s what I love about NA, is you can deal with  more adult concepts. Putting it in SciFi then allows me to bend so many rules. What I struggle with in my contemporary concepts is authenticity. By putting something in the SciFi realm you have the capacity to make your own rules as well.
Aussie Owned & Read: Give us the cheat’s guide to Sleeper.
S. M. JohnstonMishca has a weak heart that’s stopped her from living life to the fullest.
Mishca gets a new heart that sees her living a life beyond the norm with new abilities, but also has freaky nightmares. She keeps it all secret.
Mishca meets a tattooed hottie, Ryder and scores a boyfriend.
Mishca and Ryder start to hot up.
Mishca goes to uni and falls in love at first site with her university professor, Colin, but hides her feelings.
Mishca friends discover her abilities and can’t decide if she possessed by her new heart, if she’s been experimented on or if she’s an alien.
 Then craziness ensures.
Aussie Owned & Read: What inspired you to write this story?
S. M. JohnstonThe whole story was inspired by a ‘What if?’ scenario based on what if two particular people meet, which was Mishca and Colin. Everything else was developed to ensure these two meet and then the fall-out from their meeting.
Aussie Owned & Read: How does it end? Will there be some sort of a sequel?
S. M. JohnstonThe Toy Soldiers series is designed to be a four book series. While it follow’s Mishca’s journey the whole way through, each of the following books also focuses on another particular in the series. Book two, Deserter, tells Ryder’s story, book three, Turncoat, tells Nerissa’s story (Mishca’s best friend) and book four is named Fodder (working title).
Aussie Owned & Read: Finally, what advice do you have for any NA authors out there looking to break into the market?
S. M. JohnstonI think right now the contemporary side of NA is overflowing, so you need something unique. People are looking for more. Don’t be afraid to experiment and think outside the square.
Aussie Owned & Read: Thanks so much for joining us Sharon; we’re sure everyone is going to love Sleeper just as much as we do!
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Lauren K. McKellar is an editor of fact and fiction, and has worked in publishing for more than eight years. As well as being Senior Editor at Entranced Publishing, she works with a host of fabulous indie authors whose books range in genre from erotic romance to thriller.
She is also an author, and her debut novel, Finding Home, came out October 2013. Her second release will be self-published in March, 2014, and is titled The Problem With Crazy.
Lauren had the pleasure of beta-reading Sleeper; and FREAKING LOVED IT!

One Comment

  1. “When I wrote Sleeper, I had never heard of New Adult.” That was actually how I was when I wrote the first draft of my NA novel. The awareness of NA has certainly grown in three years. Great interview. I love the concept of Sleeper.



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