Tuesday 31 August 2010

Dancing With Myself: NAOMI JOHNSON interviews NAOMI JOHNSON

Before I move to our next interview, I wanted to make a couple of plugs.

The first one is for me. I had the honour of following HILARY DAVIDSON over at A TWIST OF NOIR yesterday. You can go and read 'DRINKING WINE' at the link below:


There have been another couple of takers for the series. BENJAMIN WHITNER and JOHN WOODS are also going to be involved. If you haven't already read Benjamin's interview with Keith 'TIARA' Rawson at Spinetingler, go and have a look at:


And on Thursday I'll be posting up and interview with KATHERINE TOMLINSON from over at Dark Valentine. Saturday it will be the turn of RJ ELLORY and Sunday NICK QUANTRILL.

Now I'll hand over to the lovely Naomi Johnson. She's a great writer, a superb reviewer and I've learned she has a kind, fogiving nature and a big heart. She was instrumental in helping me along big time - when she emailed me to let me know I'd won the 'Watery Grave Invitational' I did cartwheels (really badly) around my house.

A warm welcome please for NAOMI JOHNSON

Ten questions I would want to be asked or wish I'd been asked in the ONE interview I've done:

Q1: Is it true that you haven't tackled writing a crime novel because you're lazy?

A: Damn. You sussed that out, did you?

Q2: Don't you even have an idea for a novel?

A: I do. But what's the point in talking about it if I'm too lazy to write it?

Q3: So then, you write short stories because you're lazy?

A: Kiss my ass. Short stories are hard work, my friend.

Q4: Try this then: What's the best story you've written and why is it so?

A: Unlike published novelists who always claim their favorite book is their most recent one (well, hell, what else can they say when they are flying solo in the marketing skies?), my best story is probably the first one that was published at A Twist of Noir, "The Winter of My Discontent." It's about a youngster who sees his father kill his mother, then figures out what has to be done about dear old dad. I probably put more time and thought into that story than any since. I bet I re-wrote it a dozen times. At one point I sat down with the aim of cutting the word count in half without losing any of the story. That really gave me indigestion, and I just barely managed it. But if that story works it's because I worked at it.

Q5: So you think writing is more a matter of perspiration than inspiration?

A: Inspiration is a will o' the wisp. Perspiration is at your beck and call.

Q6: And what would be the worst story you've released into the wild?

A: I got a flash piece refused, and received some comments on it from the editors of that particular zine. It took several weeks for me to see it, but they were right. It was crap. Of the pubbed stories, the worst is probably a non-crime piece called "Everybody Comes to Rick's," published at Southern Cross Review. The ending still isn't right, and there's one of my "darlings" in it that should have been throttled at birth.

Q7: What are your goals or dreams regarding your writing?

A: Dreams are easy, so I'll take that one first. My dream is to sell more books than James Patterson while winning a dozen Pulitzers in as many years. Dreams, there's just no limit to how ridiculous they can be, eh? But goals are another story. I realized my writing goal recently when a print magazine contracted to pay for one of my stories. That was my goal: get paid for a story in a print pub. New goal: Get a story accepted by one of the major mystery magazines. This new goal will keep me busy for a while, I expect.

Q8: You also do some editing for NEEDLE. Is that something you'd like to do more of?

A: I believe in NEEDLE, I believe in its mission and I trust its founders, Steve Weddle and John Horner. They've been kindness personified to me, and I enjoy contributing my efforts to the cause. But editing as a real job? It should be left to real editors. I'm sure I'd want to be paid more than I'm worth at that task.

Q9: Your bio always indicates you have an unused degree in criminology. Why didn't you ever use it?
A: Because when I finally got the degree, I was already ensconced in a well-paying job at a major pharmaceutical company. I had a career well underway, and I was seduced by the security of a steady paycheck. Well, in those days it was secure. Anyway, I'm a believer in having more education than you'll ever use. I also have a paralegal certification that I've never needed.

Q10: What's wrong/right with crime fiction today?
A: Wrong: Too much reliance by publishers and writers alike on the tried and true, the cheap imitation, the next big thing. Right: The generosity of spirit possessed by Ken Bruen and others, particularly the online community, who support risk takers and trailblazers as well as tolerate hacks and dilettantes like me.


  1. "Inspiration is a will o' the wisp. Perspiration is at your beck and call." I like that a lot.

  2. that was my favourite quote, too

  3. Yep, great line, that. Naomi is a brilliant writer and should write more.She's a real supporter of writers too.

  4. This is great, Naomi. And I'll agree,publishing has some bugs to work, out,but there are more and more people like Ken (generous, kind hearted believers) starting to become apart of the industry, so we're bound to see a change soon.

  5. Some people are lovable and Naomi is one of them. I felt I knew her the first time she popped up.

  6. I thank you all for putting up with me, and I (metaphorically) kiss your collective feet. BTW, once again Ken Bruen has demonstrated that remarkable generosity of spirit in his post at Mulholland Books today.

  7. My favorite quote:" Kiss my ass. Short stories are hard work, my friend."

    Funny and plainspoken interview. Love your blog too!

  8. Loved that one. Well done Naomi on an excellent self-interview. Nice one, Nigel, for doing this.

  9. These are turning out to be some fascinating interviews. Thanks for sharing Naomi.

  10. Hack and dilettante are two words that have NO place in any sentence involving Naomi Johnson. She is generous of spirit and giving to her art and fellow artists. Also, she can say Kiss My Ass in the most ladylike way imaginable. Thanks to Nigel for bringing the lady to us.