Ian Johnstone

Ian Johnstone BIO PIC

I was born in 1947 England and have been writing short stories to please my own mind since I was 11. I have now graduated to writing longer stories and having them published. Since 1996 i have written many stories that i hope to have published and all of totally different genres. I write Mythology, War fiction, Horror supernatural and Historic fiction.

I now have a publisher that will publish my stories in e book form with the promise that if the make the mark they will be printed. I have even at my age an ambition to ride the Trans Siberian Railway and write about the beautiful architecture that is en-route. That and antiques are my only other pleasures.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.

Why do all my stories have sword fighting armies, women, and men, and what is all the mythological Gods all about? I have a fascination of mythology that I have only discovered in the last six years. It is one of the most interesting parts of my stories and now combined with history is all coming together. The swords are a romantic item that can be built on. They are weapons of the mythological gods that make them an important part of my stories.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

I have no process to follow. When I start writing I have only a vague idea of how to start let alone a story. It is usually after the first two chapters when I start getting a feeling for the story. Then I write until I feel I have come to its natural end. When I start a story, I only have the idea with no plot, no centre, and no end. Somehow I always seem to grow into the stories.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t suffer from writers block and I do not believe there is such a thing. I sometimes get tired of writing the story and leave it to start another. It is not unusual for me to have three or four stories being written at the same time, and I have never failed to finish any I started.

What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?

When you have written your first chapter at the speed of light thinking that you first draft is like nothing ever written before, you are probably right. Leave it a few days and read it with a clear head, sit back and cringe at the typo’s, hide your face in shame at the missed words, cry when you find that the hero’s name changed half way through one of the pages. Bang your head on the key board when you see that in your haste a few of the paragraphs do not tie up. Stop trying to write as fast as the idea arrives in your mind, because you will never keep up with your imagination.

What are your current/future projects?

I am in the middle of writing another Hippolyta story, and this will make eight in the series. These stories are mostly fiction, but there is some stretched history and myth.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I was in the Parachute Regiment [UK] our Regimental music was Ride of the Valkyrie by Wagner. I started to read about the Valkyrie, then the Odin and the Norse Gods. Not satisfied I started reading myth, and decided to write what my imagination was dictating.

What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?

I thought about going down that route, and yes with Lulu and other publishers it sounds easy. The reality is that in the UK it is expensive. There are no guarantees that you will get your money back. There is the editing and there are editors and then again there are editors that should never advertise. They too are expensive and I have been there and wasted my cash

Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

I don’t think I am either. I have an on line publisher that publishes all I write. I have a very good editor that knows why my grammar is not as good as it should be at my age, but he is tolerant. My stories are sold as e books and are on kobo, kindle, I Pad and sold on about six or seven different sites including Amazon and Smashwords. I tried the traditional way, but found to get the slightest chance of getting a publisher you do need an agent. After about a thousand stamps and wasted two years, I realized that unless you were recommended by another author or you already had published work, you were classed as not worthy of their theft of your royalties if you earned any.

Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?

Yes and no, I have taken an e book from sale because it was self published and not to the standard I thought it could be. It will go out again after further work and my editor’s approval and probably under another title.

What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)

None at the moment, but I hope to cruise the Danube this year. Well I am writing about that part of the world and the Black Sea, so it would be good to see if it checks out.

What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?

I have none but that might change this year. I advertise my stories on Google +, facebook, Pinterest, they are free advertising

If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?

I think I have already answered this question in many of the previous.

What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?

I have the ability to write just about anything I feel like, I have written modern warfare, horror, supernatural, mythological, and historic fiction.

What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?

I find a piece of paper and jot it down. I used to take a notebook around with me, but I found myself getting lost in the story. I would end up with half a chapter so I stopped doing it.

Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?

Between 58- 65.000 words to each of my books/stories

How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?

Because of all the reading of history, warfare, mythology I have had to read. I have become much more satisfied with my own education. I have interesting stories that I can retell of the mythological gods, that most people have forgotten since the time they were at school.

How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?

I have a Kindle I have found that there is a lot of truth in the words, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I think whenever you buy a book you must read the synopsis, and even that is sometimes a little stretched.

Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?

I have no idea

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?

I have written a post on reviews in my blog. http//iansstories-ian.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/individuality-and-critique.html I believe that reviews can be faked by members of the family or friends. I have read some reviews that were written by people that could never have read the book.

What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?

It is a waste of money and deceitful.

Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?

Yes there are and they can be as positive as they are negative. When I started writing I wrote many stories in erotica. E books again but in an assumed name that will remain secret. There was this one fellow on Amazon that gave my stories bad reviews, not all but many. The strangest thing was the more her run the story down the more people bought it. Many wrote their own reviews contradicting the bad one.

Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?

I have never got that far.

With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?

There will never be an over abundance of books. The days have passed where a person relies on a library to read books. Every publisher has a list of their printed or e books. All will have a synopsis. Not everyone reads the same kind of war fiction, or the same kind of love story so everyone gets the chance to sell their kind of story in their genre

What is your biggest fear about having a book published?

I have none

 If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?

I think The Dunce at the back of the Class. It is the true story about my life but written as a third person. It takes me up to the day I received my wings as a Para. The follow up is with my publisher at the moment and called, The Dunce at the back of the class [soldier on]. Both stories are filled with shorter stories that will have you weeping and laughing.

 What is the intended audience for you book?

There are no swear words in my stories, I think bloody, or damn might be the worst. Queen Hippolyta is called a whore by the Attila and the Hun generals. I think that any person over the age of sixteen, male or female.

 Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?

I like to put in the odd one liners; and sometimes in serious situations. It is the way I live my life, happy.

 If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?

A book only activates the imagination; no two people read a book or story with the same scenes inside their mind. A book/story is as unique to every reader as it is to the person that wrote it.

 Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?

I believe that unless a person wishes to read, all the advertising on social media or other will not be of any use. My daughters have never read my stories, and it was not for my lack of trying to get them to read.

 What makes a good story, why?

Good conversations that you expect to hear, with mystery, and action. Just enough of each to titillate the imagination. I have no sex in my stories, but there is innuendo that leaves it to the imagination of the reader.

 How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names in my stories are very important because of the content. There are many ways on the internet to get the right names. I have found though that if you don’t type the right key word you will not get the right names. It is trial and error.

 Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read the reviews but I don’t get uptight about them or excited. The bad ones if I think they might have a little constructive criticism I will use it for further reference. I think that most bad reviews are written by people that read something they never expected. It might have been their genre but not the way they like it written.

 What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?


 What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)

Love, I think it is because a writer put part of himself or herself into the story, and I think that the love I shared with my late wife is personal

 What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?

Espionage. I will need to be in the mood to try that one.

Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?

Most of my characters start off in my dreams and so to do the stories.

Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?

I have already done that one, Marina is in the Warrior stories. Warrior is in the Marina stories. Hippolyta is in the Warrior stories.

Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?

Hippolyta was mythological but the amazons or roaming armies of women on the banks of the Black sea are documented.

What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?

Enough knowledge on the chosen subject to make fiction sound true.

What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?

Hammond Innes, Alistair McClain, Wilber Smith, and Louis L’Amour’s stories

What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?

Because of arthritis I have trouble with print books, I also find now that my eye wonders onto the previous or the next page when reading. There are those people that will not read kindle e books. I think there is room for both, and I am neither for nor against either.

Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

It is something that I love, a creative outlet that at 66 keeps my brain active.

Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?

I think every story I write is a new challenge, each story stretches my imagination further than the last.

Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?

I have a site that checks most of my books/stories and checks my very poor grammar. Gammarly.com.

 What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?

No idea

 Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?

Modern women. *Why?* Because I had five daughters a first wife and my late wife, 46 years with all of them, but I still don’t know anything about how their minds work. I know more about the big bang theory.

 What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?

My imagination motivates me, I live the stories I write. I can ride the plains of the eastern shores of the Black Sea with Hippolyta. Or I can travel with Marina to the outer world. Watch her and her general, Brandon, bring the most fiercest of evil gods to their knees. I escape from the harsh realities of this our real world and escape in my own imagination. I can never be truly a lonely person.

 What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

I don’t know if it does, do any of us authors know that question.

 What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?

The start of the book is my most favorite part because it is the start of a new adventure.

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