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.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

9 thoughts on “WHAT AND WHY I WRITE . . . by John B. Rosenman”

  1. John, I absolutely understand about “The Martian Chronicles” and so on — I read every one of the books you mentioned and then some while a kid. I still remember Dad had a huge collection of Burroughs and Norton, Piers Anthony and Philip Jose Farmer, as well. Sigh, I could wish I were able to write science fiction like that!

    You’re the first write I’ve run into who’s actively said he started out as a story writer — how did you transition to novel writing? I’m attempting to do it and not sure of my feet, so to speak:)

    Catherine, hello to your blog. I’ve read half the Drollerie tour this weekend and am working on the other half today, so I ran into yours. How come it’s named Tamago? (just curious)


  2. Jess:

    I’m really pleased to have John as my first guest on tour. He has such a cohesive view about his writing.

    Tamago is the Japanese word for egg. Anything that is emerging or learning to be in Japanese culture is called a *whatever* Tamago. So, as a beginning writer, I’ve called myself Writer Tamago.


  3. Oooh, now that’s neat to know! I’m a lover of languages — my dad’s a technical translator, so I blame him:) — so you’ve made my day. I’m just starting to learn Japanese actually, go figure! (The reason being, well, I like to read mythologies of other lands in the native tongue). Writer Tamago, I like that. How do you know Japanese, might I ask?

    Btw, John does have a good style and view of writing. I haven’t done too much science fiction in a while — the past few years I’ve been all fantasy. But I shook my head in amazement when I saw what he’d read growing up, because I ended up with the same books! Hah, at one point I wanted to be Bradbury. You know, back in the early days every writer has before they find *their* voice? But wow, I admire those who can write good science fiction!


  4. I studied Japanese for 4 years as part of my doctoral work. Now I’m trying to learn Russian, for the same reasons you’re learning Japanese. I think I progress a chapter a semester.

    Bradbury–great science fiction AND fantasy.

    Nice to meet you. 😉


  5. Oooh, you as well! I’m currently trying Georgian:) My dad knows Russian, he translates it a lot of the time. I haven’t managed to get to that one yet.


  6. Wow, John, I’m impressed with the credits you’ve racked up so far. Very, very respectable. 🙂 And Alien Dreams sounds intriguing.

    Catherine, lovely place you’ve got here!

  7. Jess, thanks for posting. As for transitioning to novel writing, I was doing that pretty early, probably even earlier than writing short stories. Only I never finished the novels. Now that I think about it, my first efforts might have been unfinished novels. One of them was a western, THE TWISTED YEARS, and I still remember its first sentence: “Jeff Stancher didn’t pay any attention to the Abilene stage as it bumped and rattled into town.”

    My first completed works were short stories, but open-ended novels I started but never completed opened the narrative door and provided me with the freedom I needed.


  8. Interesting to note, John, about the open-ended novels; I’ve currently written a lot of stories about the land of Kritter, and was thinking when I transition to novel-writing of doing a Discworld-like style, wherein I write various novels about the world but they don’t have a specific timeline. That seems to suit me better than writing a specific novel series, maybe because I’ve done stories for so long.

    *G*However, I’m very new at novel-writing so tell me, is that kind of thing what you meant when you said “open-ended” ? Maybe it’s a silly question, not sure.


  9. Jess, it’s not a silly question at all. What I meant by an “open-ended” novel is one whose ending you don’t have clearly in sight or only partly in sight when you begin it. It’s a novel that you’re not quite sure how you’ll finish it. In a way, beginning a novel is a leap of faith, because you may find yourself writing 70,000 or 80,000 words and then run up against a wall. An open-ended novel can be a high wire act, and if the wire disappears, you can fall for a long time.

    So I don’t think it’s quite what you have in mind, which seems to be a novel in a series where you don’t follow a chronological timeline. I see no problem with writing that way. If I recall, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series was written at least partly out of order. And there’s no reason a series has to be in a strict order anyway, except that readers may prefer it that way.

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