John B. Rosenman was an English professor at Norfolk State University where he designed and taught a course in how to write Science fiction and Fantasy. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and the editor of Horror Magazine and The Rhetorician. He has published 250 stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series.
Altogether, John has published over two dozen books, including SF action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of Beauty, Alien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). He also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman (MuseItUp Press). In addition, he has published two mainstream novels, The Best Laugh Last (McPherson & Company) and the Young Adult The Merry-Go-Round Man (Crossroad Press). Recently, he completed two science-fiction novels, Dreamfarer and Go East, Young Man that are the start of a new Dreamfarer series.
Two of John’s early literary influences are Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson.
Two major themes are the endless, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.
Q. Tell me more about your latest book.
A. Dreamfarer is a novel of the future when 70 percent of humanity are serviced by dream machines after exercising their “option” at the age of thirty-two. These CIUs (Cerebral Interface Units) provide adventurous and romantic fantasies that are far more exciting and fulfilling than ordinary life in a post-nuclear-war America, now ravaged and divided into seven autonomous districts. The year is 2170, ninety years after World War III, and America, Russia, China, and the Caliphate are struggling for supremacy. Nuclear war on Earth is now banned, but the superpowers have exported their hostilities and suspicions to Mars and other planets, where they compete to control the solar system.
What happens to a “Dreamfarer” when he wakes after seven years in a dream machine to find that he has become a Waker, one of the three percent of humanity who are immune to further dream stimulation and must face a dull and tedious existence? This is the case with Sam Adams, whose salvation lies in joining a movement to subvert and destroy the very technology that has robbed humanity of their identity and purpose. In the process, he becomes romantically involved with two radically different women, Trina and Diana, and through unexpected acts of heroism, finds he has become a national hero as well as a double agent like Seth Lance, a hero in one of his dream series.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
A. Man, this book was difficult! Twenty or twenty-five years ago, a word popped into my head. It was “dreamfarer”, a made-up word. We have seafarers and wayfarers, so why not dreamfarers? And what is a dreamfarer? It’s someone who travels in dreams, perhaps to marvellous realms. In short, this one word was a mighty seed. It generated a whole novel in which people chose to be placed in dream machines that biochemically created the dreams of their choice.
But it was hard to write the novel. My writers’ group wisely found fault with the style and execution, and I was eventually forced to set it aside for two decades. I picked it up two or three years ago and tried again. My writers’ group had dissolved in the meantime, but now I had an excellent beta reader to assist me. Sometimes, writers tackle a project too early and have to step back and wait until they’ve matured, and the idea has ripened in their mind. This, I think, was the case with me.
Q. What is your normal procedure to get your books published?
A. Usually, I have certain publishers in mind as I write the book and conduct market research along the way. I used to submit my science fiction and fantasy novels and my young adult novel to the top or elite publishers, those who paid the most and had the best reputation and circulation. Those markets are damned hard to crack, though, and eventually I focused on those I had used before. Thus, once I had published the first novel in my Inspector of the Cross series with Crossroad Press, it seemed to make sense to publish the next five there as well. Since some of my books are stand-alone short stories or novelettes, I submitted to publishers or magazines that seemed to fit, paid the most, and had the widest circulation. If my work was rejected, I worked my way down. Sometimes I balanced the criteria off against each other. For example, would I rather be paid 5 cents a word by a publisher with a circulation of 500 or 2 cents a word by a publisher with a circulation of 10,000? In eight cases, I formatted and published short stories myself through Kindle Direct Publishing.
The Books, Stories, etc. I Have Written
Q. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
A. Yes, I do. You’re trying to write the best you can, trying to achieve perfection, and that’s about as spiritual an endeavour as I can imagine. The goal is divine and impossible to achieve, and the process tests your faith with every word you write and cross out. Sometimes you almost feel that you’re nailing yourself to a cross, especially when you expose yourself to others’ brutal criticism or force yourself to be honest and throw out fifty pages you used to love. But when it’s going well, when the words pour out of you like holy oil, there’s nothing better in life or the whole universe.
Q. How many books have you written so far?
A. I count nearly thirty on my Amazon Author Page. Five separate short stories are between publishers and another, a novel, is out of print. Over 200 of my short stories have been published in magazines and book collections. Here is a list:
1. Dreamfarer (Book 1)
2. Go East, Young Man (Book 2) – Due to be published in 2023
3-5. Starfighter Chronicles (first three novels of my Inspector of the Cross series): Inspector of the Cross, Kingdom of the Jax, Defender of the Flame
6. Conqueror of the Stars (Book 4)
7. Skyburst (Book 5)
8. Crash (Book 6)
9. Childhood’s Day
10. Dark Wizard
11. The Merry-Go-Round Man
12. Dax Rigby, War Correspondent
13. Speaker of the Shakk
14. Beyond Those Distant Stars
15. The Lazarus Trick
16. Dark Desires
17. Only God and Demons
18. Music Man
19. Daniel, My Son
21. Here Be Dragons
22. A Mingling of Souls
23. Alien Dreams
24. A Senseless Act of Beauty
25. Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird
26. The Voice of Many Waters
27. The Best Laugh Last
28. A Breath of Fresh Air (currently submitting for publication)
29. Green in our Souls
Q. What’s the best way to market your books?
A. Here are three ways: 1. Conduct careful research with the best market guides, both traditional and online. 2. Be sure to read books in your genres that were published by publishers you intend to submit to. 3. Attend writers’ conferences and make pitches to the most appropriate agents and publishers.
Q, How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?
A. Very hard. Honestly, the odds are against you. If you define “career” in economic terms, then only a very small percentage of fiction writers make enough to support themselves by writing alone. Most fiction writers make below $30,000 a year. My advice: get a decent job and try to remain steadily employed to support your habit until or if you become monetarily successful. And if you don’t or can’t achieve financial success, learn to feel rewarded and fulfilled by creative success instead. Note: nonfiction or in-house writers of grants, reports, business proposals and the like will generally make substantially more.
Q. What is your advice for aspiring writers?
A. I’ll give them the same advice I often give myself. Write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. And lest I forget, Read, Read, Read. In fact, reading comes first. In my freshman English class in college, my professor told me that if I wanted to write, I needed to read as much as possible. I took him at his word, and I’ve tried to follow his advice.
If you’re a writer who wants to be published, you also need to research the markets and aim for the best and most appropriate ones first, even if they are most likely to reject you. And keep sending your book, poem, or story out until you either realize it won’t sell or until you receive criticism that convinces you to revise it. And when you have revised it, send it out again. And again and again.
Join a writers’ group of like-minded souls, weigh their comments, and revise accordingly. I belonged to a writers’ group for twenty years, and their advice—some good, some terrible—helped me to sell several novels and dozens of stories.
Above all, don’t quit or become too discouraged. Put a story away for a week or month if necessary but resolve to return to it. Sooner or later, it will be worth it.
Visit Author John B. Rosenman book links:
Inspector of the Cross, Book 1 in the Inspector of the Cross series: https://amzn.to/3saMkno
and Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3r4MziO
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