Hi, everyone! Today author Kevin T. Jonhs had agreed to stop by for an interview. Be sure to check out my review of his book The Page Turners here. Hope you enjoy the interview!
How did you come up with the idea for The Page Turners?
I’m a big fan of superhero comic books and shows like The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always loved how those types of stories refused to confine themselves to a single genre. You would have the heroes fighting a robot one week and a vampire the next. I wanted to write a story that mashed up genres in the same way.
The story revolves around three teenage boys Nate, Danny, and Spenser, which character do you identify with the most and why?
All of three of the boys draw from different aspects of my personality, but Nate is probably the character who has the most of me in him; Nate has all of my worst qualities. There’s a line in the book that says something like, “Nate felt like he had to punch and kick his way through life,” and that’s often how I’ve felt. There’s just this innate anger and violence within me that I always have to keep in check.
How many books are planned for this series?
It’s a trilogy. It was actually initially written as one giant epic novel, which is kind of a classic rookie author mistake. It was only after working on the manuscript for years that I realized it needed to broken up into three books.
Can you tell us a little bit about the next instalment in the series?
The next book is called The Page Turners: Economy of Fear. It will be out in the next few months. It picks up right where the first book left off.
If Book I can be considered a horror novel with elements of sci-fi and fantasy, Economy of Fear will be a sci-fi novel with elements of horror and fantasy.
The idea of the first book was to focus on Maplewright as this terrible little town. I think claustrophobia is a key element of horror, so I wanted the kids to feel trapped in this tiny country town with this monster they can’t escape. The books spends a lot of time in small rooms, dark cellars, intimate spaces.
As the second book unfolds, the story opens up and becomes bigger and grander. The canvass the story is told on becomes much more epic, and the characters are no longer cramped together in tight spaces. Instead, the story pulls them apart into these vast open spaces.
What is the first book you remember falling in love with?
I read the comic book, The Infinity Gauntlet #4, when I was probably about 11 or 12 years old, and was absolutely hooked. That was it for me. I’ve read comic books ever since.
In terms of novels, I was a big Stephen King fan. His novella, Rage, about a high school shooting long before they had become regular occurrences, had a huge impact on me.
Orwell’s 1984 was the first book I read from cover to cover in one sitting. I remember finishing the book at four in the morning and realizing I was going to have to get up and go to school in a couple of hours.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
It’s funny, but growing up I never thought about becoming a novelist. I thought I was going to be musician or a filmmaker. I did my undergraduate degree in Film Studies. I wrote four feature length screenplays long before I ever considered writing a novel. But as I moved through university, I began taking more and more English Literature classes, and I ended up doing my graduate degree in English Lit. By the time I had written my Master’s thesis, I knew I had a novel in me, so, as soon as I graduated, I started writing.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block, because I don’t rely on inspiration or the muse in order to write. I approach writing like work, and do the appropriate plotting and planning ahead of time, so that I always know where my story is going and what needs to happen next.
What has been one of the most memorable moments in your life so far?
I went to Lollapalooza as a teenager specifically because my favourite band, Rancid, was playing. This would have been like the mid-90s. We arrived a day early and decided to go to the movies the night before the concert. As we were going into the theater, Rancid walked out! The whole band was just suddenly right there on the street in front of us. Tim Armstrong was so gracious and kind. We were just these snot-nosed punk kids in total awe of these rock Gods in front of us, but he treated us with so much kindness and respect. It was one of those moments where you meet your hero in real life, and they’re even cooler than you ever imagined. He invited us to hang out with the band backstage at the concert the next day. I’ll never forget that, and if I ever reach a level of success where I’m approached by fans, I’ll absolutely do my best to treat them as good as Tim Armstrong treated us.
Who is one person who can always make you laugh?
There are so many. My wife Sarah; my kids Jillian and Alyssa; my friends Aaron, Darcy and Chris; and my podcast co-host Catherine. I think one of the reasons you develop deep affection for people is because they bring joy to your life and make you laugh, and Sarah, Jillian, Alyssa, Aaron, Darcy, Chris, and Catherine have all brought heaps of joy and laughter to my life!
Without giving spoilers, what can you tells us about The Page Turners that the synopsis doesn’t cover?
The villain is a vampire. I never really wanted the book to be labelled as a “vampire book”, so I always just refer to the villain as a vicious killer or a monster in summaries and synopsis, but, yeah, he’s an old school vampire.
Another thing that people probably won’t realize until they start reading the book is that it’s actually written in a fairly literary style. Despite its synopsis making it sound like a commercial fiction novel, some people might actually consider it to be a little closer to literary fiction than commercial or genre fiction, given how much it explores the boy’s inner workings and emotional challenges.
One reviewer complained that the language was too flowery for a teen vampire book, but that’s exactly what I was going for. I love Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald and I also love Spider-man comics and horror movies, so I tried to bring all of that together into my own unique style.
I like to do a short game at the end of an interview so the readers can get to know you a little better. I will start the sentence, and you finish it however you like!
My favorite day of the year is… Halloween. It’s the one holiday that doesn’t involved stressful family gatherings!
I never leave the house without…Hugging and kissing my kids good-bye.
One day I will travel to… London, England. I would love to see one of Shakespeare’s plays performed in London.
The world would be a better place if… I, perhaps, actually knew the answer to that question. The truth is I’m really not sure how to improve the world. If I knew how, I’d be doing it. I’m just trying to learn how to be happy with what is happening in the current moment, rather than trying to change the current moment in order to create some vision I have for a better future.