Writing, // March 8, 2015
John B. Rosenman – WRITER
Writer John B. Rosenman in his own words —
As a child before television came along, I used to lie abed at night and listen to The Shadow, Inner Sanctum, and other radio programs, letting my imagination do the work and making up stories about the characters. I’ve almost always wanted to be a writer, even when I didn’t know it. I remember drawing cartoon panels in crayon when I was small. Regarding one newspaper comic strip, I think it was “Mandrake the Magician,” I pretended to be its mysterious villain The Dark One and skulked about our backyard at twilight wearing a cape. When I left a letter to my family demanding they leave a dollar under a flower pot OR ELSE, they were all suitably terrorized, since I signed it “The Dark One.” I was thrilled when I saw the money and they had a hoot. Later, I grew up exposed to fifties Sci-fi and Horror movies such as War of the Worlds, Them!, and The Thing and read books by Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and other SF and Fantasy writers. EC Comics did the rest as far as warping my imagination is concerned.
Today I’m a retired English professor and a tennis player—of sorts. Also, I’m a science fiction/speculative fiction, fantasy, horror writer who has published three hundred short stories and nearly twenty books. I also write in other areas, including humor and metafiction. The Merry-Go-Round Man, about three boys growing up in the 1950’s, is a YA novel inspired by my childhood. Johnny Roth, the most prominent of the boys, has an Orthodox Jewish father who sternly opposes his two emerging gifts. Johnny can be a great expressionistic painter or an unbeatable boxer. Which will he choose?
In general, I prefer writing science fiction and speculative fiction. I’ve been drawn most to two themes: the endless, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise. My current project is unusual because it comes late in life. As I indicate on my website and blog site, I tried before to write a series, but it hasn’t been until my seventies that I’ve been successful with my Inspector of the Cross series. So far, three novels have been published in kindle format by MuseItUp Publishing. They are Inspector of the Cross, Defender of the Flame, and Kingdom of the Jax.
The series occurs nearly seven thousand years in the future. Humanity has been engaged in a five-thousand-year long war against the Cen, heartless and seemingly invincible aliens who have brought us to the brink of ruin. Only one man can save us: Turtan, an elite agent who is an Inspector of the Cross empire. He is not only the best we have and the reason we have managed to survive, but he is 4,000 years old! Why? Because he travels on freeze ships in suspended animation to investigate reports of weapons or devices that might turn the tide against the enemy. In the first book of the series, Turtan finally finds the right device. But will he be permitted to use it?
I’ve been fortunate enough to win a few awards. My first novel, The Best Laugh Last won McPherson & Company’s First Novel Award. More recently, “Killers,” a story about time travel, was chosen by Musa Publishing as an Editors’ Top Pick. “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes” won Preditors and Editors’ 2010 Award in the SF/F short story category. It’s about a most mysterious and frightening disease, and it’s one of the books included in the 4 Book Bundle, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman.
Writers are sometimes divided between plotters and pantsers. Well, I’m a pantser! I often fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I go along. In other words, I usually don’t know where I’m going and trust to inspiration. Oh, I have a general idea what my ultimate destination is, but it’s as if I glimpse it through a fog. As for my characters, especially my protagonist, I sometimes learn things the same time they do. This tendency has increased as I’ve gotten older. I think on balance, it’s a strength. It enables my fiction to breathe and my plotting to be flexible.
Some folks say you should only write what you know. I’ve written about imaginary worlds and realms, and I’ve created alien races and fantastic beings out of thin air. I’ve also written of places on Earth I’ve read about but never visited. My fantasy tale “Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird” takes place on the South Pacific island of Nauru and involves local customs and improbable lovers. My most ambitious novel, A Senseless Act of Beauty, occurs on a distant planet I modeled after Africa. Just as Europeans conquered and colonized Africa, so do two hundred spaceships come to colonize a future Viridis, and only one man, a scientist of Nigerian descent can save it and prevent history from repeating itself. A couple stories here occur in Nigeria over a century ago, and I’m indebted to Mike Resnick’s Kirinyaga and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, both of which are classics.
Sometimes if it’s going well, I love my inventiveness, my ability to create character, my phrasing and my writing. I also like to keep the plot going in surprising yet productive directions, directions neither I nor the reader could have anticipated if I had stuck to a pre-conceived outline. In a chapter of Book four of my series, the enemy calls Turtan and his team Suda miners. It was a spur-of-the moment thing I tossed in, but in a later chapter I’m currently writing, I plan to create some comic and dramatic tension because our hero has no idea what Suda mining is, and he keeps trying to conceal his ignorance from the Cen. I love that sort of thing.
I hope that five or ten years from now our lives will be less complicated and my wife and I will be able to travel. Also, I want to keep writing, perhaps in new directions since by then my series should be finished and I’ll be able to escape from this universe. I believe life is a process and we should view it as an endless quest, and if we ever achieve our goal then we should find a new one. If as Faust says, you can ever say, “Linger a while—thou art so fair!”, then you are indeed done. My same advice goes to writers. PLUS – Persevere, persevere, persevere. Never quit writing or stop submitting your work. Remember that while success is important, the most important thing is your craft and what you write. Revise, revise, revise. Ultimately, the quality of the work is what counts, not how many five star reviews it gets, how much money you receive for it, or who stars in the movie they make from it.
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John B. Rosenman
6229 Auburn Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464