Debra R. Johnson

To celebrate the release of the horror/paranormal anthology Off the Beaten Path: Eight Tales of the Paranormal, we, the co-authors of this exciting project, are having both a giveaway and a blog tour.  I am pleased to have several of my fellow anthologists visiting my blog this week, and they have all agreed to answer a few questions about them. Without further ado, here is my first guest: Debra R. Johnson, the author of the horror novel,  After – Part One (The Phoenix Curse).Debra's  author pic


In her words:

Debra Johnson was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on July 20th, 1976.

Ever since the long ago angsty days of horrible high school poetry and prose, Debra has dreamed of becoming a published author.

She found out that dreams do not have the power alone to achieve goals, that ideas in your head are simply ideas in your head, and no one is going to come along and ask you about your ideas. They’re going to ask you about the work you’ve already done, the books you’ve already written. They’ll want the proof that you believe in your dream, that you believe in yourself.

It wasn’t until Debra moved to Grand Prairie, TX, did she start to remember her dreams. Finally, at the age of 36 she challenged herself to write a complete book, never actually believing she could finish it.

Five months later, and the first draft was complete.

During the publishing process, she was excited and knew she would probably cry once everything was done. No one warned her she might throw-up. Also, it was not just simplistic tears of picturesque joy. It was ugly, puffy faced, red-eyed crying with snot. Lots of snot. It was gross.

Warning: Achieving your dreams can sometimes be messy.

After – Part One (The Phoenix Curse) blurb:

The world is no longer safe, no longer thriving. It has been inherited by the diseased.
The red mist spread and humanity was infected. There was no stopping the curse once it started and the world’s population was reduced to mindless beasts. Creatures that hungered and raged for the taste of pure, uninfected flesh.
Few of those remain.
Ali is not one of them.

And now my questions:

1) The first horror book you read was…?

I don’t exactly remember which horror book I picked up first, but it had to be one of Stephen King’s books. My favorite were Pet Cemetery and It.
I remember being alone in my room when I was reading Pet Cemetery and I had to stop because it was just getting way too creepy for me.

2) You discovered you were quite good at writing horror/paranormal/urban fantasy when…?

I get a lot of inspiration from my dreams and some of those can have some off the wall plots that I don’t think I could come up with awake. It makes for some unusual stories and I just try to tap into that whenever I can.

3) As a reader, your favorite horror book is…?

It really does stand the test of time for me. I read this way back when I was still a teenager and there are some scenes that stand out in my mind still today.

4) What scares you…?

Even though I love me some good paranormal stories, that generally isn’t what scares me. As a secular thinker, I fear home invasions, fires during the nighttime and… uh… tornadoes  I grew up in Oklahoma, so my most common recurring nightmares are of tornadoes.

5) You usually write…?

I like to write about different worlds, or what our world would be after an apocalypse. Whether it be based in paranormal, fantasy or dystopia, I really like to explore the recesses of my imagination that lead me beyond the normal and everyday life that we all know.

6) What’s next…?

There are just so many possibilities. My second installment in The Phoenix Curse is releasing at the end of October, so that will free me up for NaNoWriMo. I have so many stories ideas backed up, I might just have to drop them all in a hat and see what I pull out!

Remember, for the chance to win awesome gifts, enter the Off the Beaten Path Giveaway

Debra R. Johnson

Friday Snippet #43

15 in Dystopian June 2013 single shotSlightly confused, probably still jetlagged, but mostly bereft. Family matters required some travelling, and it normally takes me a few days to get back to my routine. This time, it took me slightly more.

Last week, thanks to an ad on Kindle Books and Tips, The Priest, discounted for the occasion to 99 cents, reached #15 on the the dystopian category on Amazon, and #64 on the science fiction category. It maintained that position for a few days which has driven sales for Pax in the Land of Women, and a trickle for Prince at War as well, and even for Linda of the Night. Meanwhile, Pax—also temporarily discounted to 99 cents—was featured on Bookblast and although it reached only one tenth of the number of downloads of The Priest—as it was to be expected being a second in a series—it still managed to reach #71 in the paid dystopian category. Thanks to the surge in downloads, The Priest has also received two new reviews. The lesson here is that good advertising pays. Unfortunately, good advertising is difficult to get. Step by step.

Yesterday, I finished all my corrections and rewriting on Gaia—still I haven’t decided on the final title—and I sent it back to the editor. It feels so strange to have nothing to correct and rewrite. I’ve been in editing mode for so long, not sure I know what to do with my day. I’ll probably go for a walk.

Finally, here’s the snippet I hinted in the post’s title, which is actually a little piece of flash fiction I wrote one or two years ago for a contest  and slightly revisited for Father’s Day.


“Daddy, Daddy! Look up!” Lucille glides weightlessly, skirting rocks and grass.

“The night is bright,” Dad says, closely following her.

“Look at the round light!” Lucille happily somersaults. “It’s so yellow, and so big, and so shiny. Can you catch it for me?”

“For you, my sweet fry, the Moon and the Stars aren’t enough!”

Koi Delight

Friday Snippet #43

The Next Big Thing

I was invited to participate in “The Next Big Thing” blog tag by the lovely Julia Hughes, author of the bestseller A Ripple in Time, among many other fabulous books.

The City of Men : Fourth Book in a Trilogy


What is the working title of your book?

At the moment, I’m working on several projects, but the one I’d like to finish first is The City of Men. It’s book 1.5 in The Ginecean Chronicles. The events narrated in this story take place between The Priest and Pax in the Land of Women. Same world, same social turmoil, different point of view.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The Ginecean Chronicles started as a trilogy, but Ginecean society is rather complex and it occurred to me that I wrote the story by the point of view of a semental in The Priest, a pure breed in Pax in the Land of Women, a different kind of semental in Prince of War, and I was missing the point of view of a fathered woman. The City of Men is the story behind the story narrated by a young fathered woman, who ends up far away from the safety of the Institute where she was born and raised.

What genre does your book fall under?

The City of Men is a dystopian/science fiction/action love story.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Leading actress for the role of Marie (I might change her name) would be Saoirse Ronan.

Leading actor for the role of Grant (I might change his name as well) would be Drew Van Acker.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Society rules can’t restrain our hearts.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The City of Men, following the other three in The Ginecean Chronicles will be self-published. The topics I discuss in my stories are still considered taboo and I like the freedom to express myself without censorship.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still writing the first draft. Working on several projects and trying to market already published books can be quite draining. I’m trying to better organize my time. Thankfully, November is around the corner and I’ll take advantage of Nanowrimo to finish writing the story.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I have no ready answer for this question.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Amor Vincit Omnia. The whole Ginecean series was inspired by the realization that society rules are arbitrary and transitory. What is seen as proper now wasn’t one hundred years ago. In my worlds, love always wins, despite color/religion/gender differences. Maybe, one day, hopefully soon, we won’t need organizations like It Gets Better to help bullied kids.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The City of Men is set in an alternate Earth, Ginecea, where women rose to power in the far past and as a result they now rule over a race of enslaved men. On Ginecea, heterosexual love is deemed as sinful and impure. Pure breed women only give birth to girls and are attended exclusively by a lesser race of women called ‘fathered.’ If you like gender-benders, what-ifs scenarios, and overall to look at things from a different point of view, then, maybe, my Ginecean series could be for you.

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Thank you, again, Julia, for tagging me. It has been fun answering the questions. As usual, writing about my stories is the most difficult thing. Ask me about my beagle and I’ll go on for hours. I’ll even add a pic or two. But if I have to explain why anybody should read my books, I stare unblinkingly at the windows, hoping the glass panels would give me some brilliant answer.

But enough about me. Without further ado, those are my two talented nominees, who will delight you with their insights next week:

Clare Davidson


The Next Big Thing