WHAT AND WHY I WRITE . . . by John B. Rosenman

I’d like to welcome John B. Rosenman at this stop on his blog tour. Welcome to the Tamago, John! Without further adieu, John’s piece on What and Why I Write.


WHAT AND WHY I WRITE . . . by John B. Rosenman

Greetings to the readers of this blog, and my warmest thanks to Catherine for hosting this post. I’m John Rosenman, and I’d like to tell you a little about myself as a writer.

Altogether, I’ve published about 350 short stories in places like Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Starshore, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. I’ve also published eight books, six of which are novels, and one of which is a short story collection. Some of the novels, like Drollerie Press’s Alien Dreams, share a basic plot: a man travels to a distant world and has amazing adventures. Why do I keep returning to this story? Well, I grew up during the Golden Age of Science Fiction which stressed the mind-boggling, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the extraterrestrial marvels of outer space. I read The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man, saw SF thrillers like War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, and The Thing, and had my mind splendidly warped forever by their influence. (For more information, check my web site.)

A sense of wonder and infinite, even frightening possibilities—that’s important to me. I’ve always felt free to let my imagination soar as high as it can go, even if it means taking foolish chances and proposing ideas that some people might laugh at. So in Alien Dreams, my most cosmic novel, Captain Eric Latimore actually changes his species in order to save his crew and the woman he loves. He transforms into a giant, winged, angelic-looking creature and makes love for 10,000 subjective years to the aliens’ beautiful but deadly queen to seal the deal. Then he tearfully says goodbye to his Apache lover and leads the “Angels” across the galaxy—no, across the universe—to do battle with god, or the Gatekeeper who rules this universe. What happens if he wins? What happens if he loses? Well, if he loses, two people die, because he is actually not one person but two. Fact is, a brother shares his brain with him, and they directly experience each other’s thoughts. What happens if the brother disagrees with Latimore and wants to seize control? Ah, that’s another development, another terrible complication for our complex and courageous hero.

I like to think that I write “Wow,” post-Golden Age SF that takes risks and involves high, high concepts. But characters and characterization are important too, perhaps even more important, because the soul of life consists of people, people we know and people we can imagine, even if they sometimes happen to be horrifying aliens who look completely different from us.

I’d like to thank not only Deena Fisher of Drollerie Press for taking a chance on an experimental novel like Alien Dreams, but all the adventurous publishers and editors online that have opened their creative doors to authors like me and others who don’t write to a rigid, successful formula. So thanks go to the editors of Mundania Press who purchased Speaker of the Shakk and Beyond Those Distant Stars, with their frightening and beguiling aliens and their shape-changing, transformative heroes; to Abby Carmichael of Blade Publishing who accepted my most ambitious and experimental novel, A Senseless Act of Beauty, with its neo-African alien world and standalone stories within the larger framework; to Emma Porter of Lyrical Press, who gave the young hero in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent, a chance to live in several electronic formats despite explicit sexuality and unconventional religious concepts. Last, I’d like to express my appreciation to Lauren Gilbert and the folks of Eternal Press, who recently accepted my SF horror thriller, Here Be Dragons, which will be launched next week.

What am I working on now? Hey, I’m glad you asked. Dark Wizard is a novel of alien invasion that actually occurs right here on Earth, because I finally found a terrestrial city that in some ways is just as otherworldly as anything you can find on Altair-4. San Luis Obispo, CA offers Bubblegum Alley, whose walls are encrusted with decades of gum, and a hotel/restaurant which is a deliberate monument to kitsch and outlandish bad taste. And that’s just for starters.

You know, when I was a kid, I used to lie in bed in the dark and listen to the radio. The Shadow. Lights Out. Inner Sanctum. In some ways I’m still a kid lying there, listening to the words in the teeming dark and letting them take me wherever we both want to go.

Postage Due

Before I haul my cold-inflicted self off to be tortured by Russian grammar…

This weekend, look for Who I Am and Why I Write by fellow Drollerie author John B. Rosenman.

I will send off Substance to Amazon Breakthrough contest early Monday. If 10,000 entries are met before then, so be it.

There will be a piece on Magical Realism and L.A. Story very shortly.

I will be writing 1800 words a day on the Knights story of Gossamer and Veridian starting Sunday, with the express goal of having 100K at the end of March, so we can start chipping away everything that doesn’t look like Michelangelo’s David.

And that’s what’s up and coming. Now, that Russian…

Norway and Trolls

Whacky writer research trip to do very soon: Decorah, Ia because it has the Vesterheim Museum, and I need loads more information on Norwegian culture and Decorah, since it’s the first scene of the new version of Gossamer and Veridian

Also lots of reading about trolls. I took some Germanic myth back in my undergraduate days, and all that time with the Aesir and the Jaetta just came in handy.

Gotta give those old Norwegians some cultural habits, and something to see.



The world of the author has many tightropes to walk, and a rope I’ve been seeing twinging and quivering above my safety net recently has been the idea of hyping yourself and your story. I am an intense, but low key kind of overachiever, and I’ve never been one for too much self-pimpage. Rather, I kind of tell you what’s going on, and then you know. I don’t decorate with too many exclamation marks or adjectives of incredulosity. I consider myself a student of the Kastensmidt, Hines, or Andrews school of promotion. Tell the people what’s going on. Once. Talk about your work if it’s relevant. Don’t look for opportunities to promote or schmooze needlessly. If you’re doing your job steadily, these opportunities will come to you.

And that seems to be the folks on my list. If you seem too over the top with hype, I sort of let you fade away.


That said, I’m also a writer who likes to meet new people, so occasionally I’ll take a gamble. I’ll friend someone I don’t know, or buy a book that is lesser known. Recently, I received a link from one of my new connections about how critics were raving about her website, and how I should check it out. Hmmmm….my information on this writer is that she is an unpublished and fairly unknown writer. Hypology has hit my email box.

Interesting also are books that are published by folks that have interesting recommendations from strange places. Often friends review the books. That’s cricket, using your connections, but you wonder about authenticity of feeling, quality, and such. And then, my favorite, the quote from a big author that is on a new author’s book. There is probably some genuineness of recommendation in that scenario, but you often wonder if that isn’t part of the job the big author does for the publisher, helping get the word out about the newbs.


With no reference to anyone, I began to think about what honest hype might look like. If you were to boil down the hype for new writers, both their own, and that blessed upon them by their contacts, of course, it wouldn’t create desire, but the world would be a very different place.

Instead of
“See what the critics are saying about my website!”
“I’ve had two people and some syncophants stop by. You should too.”

Continue reading “Hypology”

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

This year, I have the privilege of introducing you to some of my fellow Drollerie authors. I have a novella with Drollerie, Sister Night, Sister Moon. Rest assured, I’ll let you know that’s available. Meanwhile, you might want to check out many of the works by other fine Drollerie authors at the Drollerie website.

This Saturday, John B. Rosenman is coming to Writer Tamago. Like me, John is an English professor, and a very prolific author. His work is inspired by the pulp magazines of the Golden Age of science fiction. I hope you’ll drop by on Saturday and meet John and read about why he writes.


Lord Tophet

It shaped up to be a very iiinteresting weekend. We moved the in-laws yesterday, and my day took a detour into frighteningly greasy pizza and McDonald’s fries. Then, there was Robert Burns’ birthday, and all Scottish people celebrate that by eating haggis, highly nutritious and heavy Scottish rustic food. Hard cider may or may not have added to any trouble…

We’ve discovered, once and for all after last year’s gall bladder surgery, that I am lipi-betic, and you can bet that I’ll be very cautious about what I eat for a while.


As I lay in a tartan induced haze last night, I had a dream. In my dream, I did something I wanted to do, a change as of late. A few months ago, Bryon and I went to our friend Denny’s for a reception for Gregory Frost, one of the University of Iowa’s favorite sons. We were there again, in my dream, and I was explaining to Greg how much I was really enjoying Lord Tophet.

Greg is delightful company. We met at a presentation I was giving at Wiscon on Baba Yaga, and he told me who he was. I had read Fitcher’s Brides, Greg’s re-telling of Bluebeard, which is one of the most horrifying books I’ve ever read. I complimented him on the book, and we’ve both been keeping Iowa literate in our own way ever since.

Well, Lord Tophet. Of course, Shadowbridge is the prequel to Lord Tophet, and you need to read it first. It’s good, and it does much the same thing that Lord Tophet does, except that when you get to Lord Tophet, the second half of the adventure, Greg hits his stride as a story teller. The background to the epic is built, Leodora breaks free of her past, the tales are skillfully weaved into the rich tapestry of the span, and the gods notice what’s going on.

I find myself insensate to what else is going on around me when I read the book. Falling into a story is the highest compliment I can give a book. It’s skillfully rendered and fully realized. Breathtakingly so.

Only 150 more pages to spend in this world, and I regret that. I hope Gregory Frost revisits someday. You? You should be reading this.


Watching for the Duster

When I was a teen, I had this *terrible* crush on a boy I went to Upward Bound with. He was from Missouri, and I lived in a border county, so it was not unlikely he would visit from time to time. I did my best to not let him know about the crush (although my adult eyes figure he must have), but I was as pie-eyed as a young calf.

My pining would hit hardest after school. I would race home, cross the railroad tracks (I *did* live on the wrong side of them), and look for his green Duster, a 70s muscle car. You know, boys. Most of the time it wouldn’t be there, and I would sigh meaningfully. When it was there, my heart would do a little flutter, and then I would spend my time shyly avoiding telling the boy about my feelings until the next time.

I recognize the same feeling while I’m waiting to hear back from editors and agents. I keep checking my inbox, and I keep sighing meaningfully, but I hope to eventually have my heart flutter.

Meanwhile, I take solace in Mark Teppo’s advice, quoted from Stephen Gould yesterday: “Don’t worry about what you can’t control.”

Off to mangle some Russian. I have imagined the first scene of the new version of the faerie novel. I’m excited. It’s all action.