This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re celebrating the arrival of two new bloggers with round-robin interviews, so you can learn more about each of us — new bloggers and old.
Today I’m interviewing Sharon M. Johnston, who has been with Aussie Owned since it started four years ago. Welcome, Sharon!
I think one of the keys to networking is paying it forward. Jump online, connect with influences, cool people and peers, and when one of them asks for help or you see a need that you can fill, put your hand up. For me it all started on a site called Inkpop (now defunct) where you reviewed WIPs. That’s where I met Wendy Higgins, who invited me to be part of YAtopia. Then I saw Pitch Madness needed a new blog host and I offered Brenda Drake the use of YAtopia. And it just keep rolling from there.
You also mentor in a number of pitching contests. If you could recommend one contest — or one type of contest — which would it be and why?
By far my favourite pitch contest is Pitch Wars. It’s got a great reputation with agents; has a better success rate than querying; creates strong communities of writers with the mentors, mentees and applicants; and the mentor works on the WHOLE manuscript. There are not many contests that do this.
The first two books in your Open Heart series, Divided and Shattered, have hit the shelves after a fairly tumultuous beginning. How would you describe the series? And what can you tell us about book three?
The series is definitely a labour of love, and had a rollercoaster ride with unprofessional publishing peeps before finding a home with City Owl Press. The series focuses on love and what it means to be human, all wrapped up with some sci-fi and fantasy fun. The first book focused on Mishca’s journey to finding out about her origins, while book two saw Mishca understand that her family may not be traditional but that it is nevertheless important, and delved more into Ryder’s past. Book three reveals to readers the truth about Nerissa, and sees Ryder reunite with his mother and Mishca succumb to her dark side. (Cass: AAAAH! Need!) In each book I reveal more to the readers about the cast of characters and what makes them the people they are.
You’ve posted on the blog before about having OCD and anxiety. Given the push for #ownvoices works in the writing community, is this something you have considered incorporating into a work of fiction? Why?
I have definitely considered writing an OCD project, especially to break down some of the stereotypes and misunderstandings around the condition. I’m very open with people about my mental health as I believe by me being honest about it with people it will demystify some of the misconceptions around mental illness. If I don’t want to have mental health treated as a stigma, it has to start with me.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m working on and off on three projects. The first one is a speculative fiction set in Brisbane around a clan of warriors responsible for delivering karma. The second is a rewrite of a far future sci-fi called Dirty Rainbow. And the third is the latest book in the Open Heart series — I need to talk to the police about what happens in a raid so I can move forward with it.
Plotter or pantser? Pantser
Speculative fiction or contemporary? Speculative fiction
Dogs or cats? Cats
Coffee or tea? Neither — chai latte
Chocolate or ice cream? Both, smooshed together and covered in caramel (I think I have a problem!)
After growing up listening to her father reading fables and folklore, it’s no surprise Sharon loves stories. As soon as she could read, her nose was firmly in a book. She loves reading, listening to audio books and writing.
She has a gorgeous husband and two wonderful boys. Well-known for her fantastic taste in shoes, Sharon has actually been stalked by women wanting to know where she got her high heels from. She also has a love of fur-babies – cats and guinea pigs, specifically.
Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who one time got to help launch Sharon’s paperback, Shattered. Which was especially exciting as she (Cass) didn’t faint while public speaking. Not even once!