It’s that time of year.
I survived another trip around the sun.
Another 365 days passing faster than ever before.
Another year of lost sleep, another year of blood, sweat, and tears, and another year of stress, heartache, and agony.
And another year of rip-roaring fun and excitement.
I spent this last weekend at London Comic Con and had the time of my life. Chatting with other fans of science fiction, meeting film and television celebrities, and watching cosplayers pass by my publisher’s booth in droves, I enjoyed it all. I truly cherish my writing career. I sold and signed books, met new friends, and perused the vendors selling everything from Hogwarts’ scarves and wands to video games to Blurays and custom tattoos. I met cosplayers dressed as everyone from Harley Quinn to The Crow. Most interesting (and heartwarming) were the families with small children. The “younglings” were dressed as their favorite comic or movie characters, wandering the aisles with wide eyes and huge grins. Comic Cons everywhere are family events. I saw little girls, empowered and dressed as Wonder Woman or Ripley or Rey, and boys dressed as Spider-Man. It is awesome. If you haven’t experienced one yet, you have to give it a shot.
Last year I wrote about the last four-plus decades of my life and my experiences watching technology change and impact the youth of today. I was born in 1970, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the most perfect birth year imaginable. (See my post on this here.)
Next year is the big one.
The Big Five-Oh. I wonder what it will bring.
So far this year has seen the release of Book One of my new series (The War Beneath), I wrote fifty-one blog posts, attended roughly twenty signings and public events, and wrote the first draft of a new novel. This coming year will see the release of The Savage Deeps, more public events and readings, and I’ll write another book in the series.
When I was seventeen years old I set this life as a goal for myself. It took twenty-five years to land a publishing deal (I was forty-two and the book was The Furnace) and now here I am, thirty-two years past that seventeen year-old kid, now watching my dream grind slowly to reality. But it took work.
Holy crap, did it take work.
Countless hours of lost sleep. Hundreds of rejections. Bad reviews. Years of anguish.
I often think back to my life as that seventeen year-old kid. I was pimply-faced, skinny (six foot and 135 lbs at most) and mostly unpopular. A “geek” for sure. I had great friends, however, who are still by my side today on this journey of mine. I love them dearly.
It’s no secret that I adore my genres. Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, Horror, and Suspense. This is what I write. For so many decades now all I’ve wanted is to make an impact in those genres. They’re the reason I made it through high school. Movies like Terminator and Alien and The Thing, and books like Gateway and Ender’s Game. John Carpenter’s movies. They took me away from the high school experience, away from the assholes, away from the self-esteem issues. It was all escapist for me. Often those properties took me away from teenage life in high school, but also to another time, place, or planet.
Just take me away from all the bullshit, I’d think, diving into a new book or film.
These genres mean everything to me, and now, after it all, what I want more than anything else is to contribute to them in some way. To give back.
So I chose writing.
The hours of lost sleep, the stress, the pain …none of it matters. I embrace it.
I love it.
What matters is what’s left when I’m gone from this planet. What impact I’ve made, and what I’ve created for other people to hopefully pull them away from reality for short periods of time.
On Saturday I met a fascinating person named Eric Freeman. He’s the “Garbage Day” guy. Remember him? Here’s a clip from the 80’s slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2:
I got an autograph of course and had a good conversation with him. He’s incredible and his “Garbage Day” scene is iconic. He was flattered when I said it, but it’s 100% true. People who know horror, especially from the 80’s, remember that line. Eric will live on forever. I think he was genuinely touched when I told him that. Eric, if you’re reading this … you’re the man. You made an impact on the genre. You have made a difference, and it matters. Don’t ever think otherwise. You. Are. Immortal.
Writing (and all creative art in general) is a brutal profession, filled with pitfalls and heartache and self-doubt, but it’s also incredibly gratifying. I get to meet people who have read my work. On Sunday I sold and signed a copy of The War Beneath to a self-professed speed reader. Sure enough, by evening she’d already read the entire book and contacted me to tell me how much she enjoyed it. That kind of response is so profoundly satisfying, and I wanted to thank you, Sawyer. It meant more than you know.
Now I get to meet other fans and chat about SF. I have the most incredible opportunity to interact with not just fellow fans, but also with celebrities and icons in the industry.
I know this has been a somewhat meandering blog post … but my birthday ones seem to have that in common. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m just incredibly introspective on this day, and I know now there are fewer years ahead than behind.
It’s a sobering thought, but I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
I’m only getting started.
I’m only just clearing my throat, so to speak.
Watch for more to come.
Until next year!
— Timothy S. Johnston, 8 October 2019
Enter TSJ’s contests here.
Enter your email into the sidebar widget to follow TSJ’s blog Life After Gateway.
Coming 19 November 2019: THE SAVAGE DEEPS from Timothy S. Johnston and ChiZine Publications!
Praise for THE WAR BENEATH
“One very riveting, intelligent read!” — Readers’ Favorite
“If you like novels like The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising,
you will certainly enjoy The War Beneath.” — A Thrill A Week
“If you’re here for thrills, the book will deliver.” — The Cambridge Geek
“This is a tense, gripping science fiction/thriller of which Tom Clancy might well be proud . . . When I say it is gripping, that is the simple truth.” — Ardath Mayhar
“… an engaging world that is highly believable …” — The Future Fire
“… a thrill ride from beginning to end …” — SF Crowsnest
“… if you like Clancy and le Carré with a hint of Forsyth thrown in,
you’ll love The War Beneath.” — Colonel Jonathan P. Brazee (RET),
2017 Nebula Award & 2018 Dragon Award Finalist
“Fast-paced, good old-fashioned Cold War espionage … a great escape!” — The Minerva Reader