Monday, December 23, 2013

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston, author of The Furnace and Giveaway - December 23, 2013

Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. Timothy is the author of The Furnace
(The Tanner Sequence 1), which is out today from Carina Press.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Timothy:  Thanks, I appreciate the opportunity. I knew that I wanted to write in 1982. That was the year I read The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. I was only 12 or 13 years old at the time, and those books, as you can imagine, had a huge impact on me. Then I discovered Isaac Asimov, Frederic Pohl, and Lester del Rey in my teens. By the time I was 17 I had begun writing short stories. I didn’t realize that it would take over 25 years to find a publisher, but it was well worth the struggle. Developing a skill takes time and effort, and a whole lot of research. Reading, writing, and even watching films, because that’s storytelling too. I want to always keep people engaged and flipping pages, so it’s important to know how to tell a strong story.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Timothy:  Good question. I’m definitely a plotter. I have the entire story planned before I begin a book. In a murder mystery like The Furnace, there are numerous threads and clues that I had to unveil slowly, so I needed a good handle on the story. It’s necessary to keep the reader hooked. I also need to know beforehand when to make the big reveals. So it’s all plotted out. That being said, when a writer creates characters and puts them in dangerous situations, they do take on lives of their own, so to speak. They do unexpected things sometimes, and I have to be able to run with it and see where it takes me. So often I’ll change things on the fly because it fits into the story in a totally organic way.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Timothy:  I love compelling plots. I have an active imagination and a lot of ideas. I guess the most challenging thing is finding enough time to tell all of my stories.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Furnace (The Tanner Sequence 1)?

Timothy:  I love Science Fiction, particularly SF Horror, and even more specifically, the Imposter theme. By this I mean stories like The Thing (Who Goes There?), Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Puppet Masters. It’s a common scenario in SF where there are imposters masquerading as the people we love. I wanted to contribute to this theme, but what made it more challenging for me was that I didn’t want to use aliens. All the other iterations, as far as I’m aware, use aliens as the imposters.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Do you have a favorite character?

Timothy:  The Homicide Investigator, Kyle Tanner, is my favorite. He was also the easiest to write. In The Furnace he arrives at an energy harvesting station to solve a murder. However, he doesn’t realize what he’s about to stumble upon. In his daily life he works to solve mysteries and give families closure. He’s a good person, but the society he operates in is brutal, and this is what I really love about him. He’s serving a military dictatorship and he’s conflicted about it. This is an aspect of his character that grows as the series continues. I’m writing the third book right now, The Void, and Tanner’s journey is really emotional. He’s conflicted by his position in the military, which represents evil and pain and suffering for civilians, but at the same time he’s solving crimes and putting things right. He could easily give in to the power he holds over people—his life would probably be a hell of a lot easier—but he prefers to help rather than hurt.

There wasn’t a difficult character to write, I’m happy to say. I had created them all, including their histories, before I started the book. This makes it easier and helps shape the characters within the context of the story. The way they react, the way they speak or carry themselves, their’s all dictated by their back stories, which I knew before I started writing.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Furnace that is not in the book description.

Timothy:  Every murder mystery of this type—which involves a secluded and hostile location, a claustrophobic station, a minimal number of characters including one killer and one investigator, a rising body count and increasing paranoia—needs storms and power outages. The book is set in space, but I still managed to include a storm, but one common to space travel. The scenario, despite being futuristic, is very comforting to people who enjoy classic murder mysteries, because all the necessary elements are still there.

TQThe Furnace seems to be a genre bender - Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller. Did you set out to write a story that blended genres?

Timothy:  You forgot Horror! The answer to your question is both yes and no. I wanted it to be futuristic because I love the Science Fiction genre. The setting opens up a lot of great environments and situations for the characters. However, I didn’t want to alienate people (pardon the pun) so I kept it all grounded in reality. I also am a fan of SF horror and mysteries. In fact, many reviewers have stated that it doesn’t feel like Science Fiction at all. I prefer saying “Futuristic Thriller” or “Futuristic Murder Mystery” because of this. I think The Furnace is just a really compelling, edge-of-the-seat adventure that I wrote for mainstream audiences. I hope it appeals to everyone. I wanted it to be cross-genre.

TQ:  What's next?

Timothy:  The next book is another murder mystery featuring the same protagonist, Kyle Tanner. It’s called The Freezer. It’s a standalone mystery and Carina Press is releasing it in August, 2014. In it I’ve taken Inspector Tanner to the opposite environmental extreme, to a small base on the ice moon Europa, where of course he’s investigating a murder. There’s also The Void, another in the series and also a standalone, which will be out in 2015. I’m almost done writing it now.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Timothy:  My pleasure! Thanks for letting me discuss The Furnace. I hope you’ll be interested in reviewing The Freezer and The Void as well.

The Tanner Sequence

The Furnace
The Tanner Sequence 1
Carina Press, December 23, 2013
eBook, 115,000 words
(Originally self-published September 19, 2011)

Dead Space, 2401 AD

Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.

When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.

With no one to trust and everyone a suspect--even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen--Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice...

About Timothy

Timothy S. Johnston is a writer of futuristic and contemporary mystery/thrillers. There is always a technological component to his plot lines, and the science that he uses to propel his stories forward is real and verifiable. His characters are strongly motivated and undergo extreme change; his protagonists each find themselves drawn into intense situations seemingly beyond their control. The stakes are always huge and the outcomes unique and unpredictable. He is dedicated to the art of telling a compelling story and contributing to the genre that has given him so much over the past four decades. He is passionate about writing and committed to inspiring others through his stories. Carina Press is currently publishing a trilogy of thrillers by Johnston: The Furnace (2013), The Freezer (2014), and The Void (2015). This series — The Tanner Sequence — details Homicide Investigator Lt. Kyle Tanner’s emotional journey as he solves difficult cases set in unique and deadly claustrophobic environments.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter @TSJ_Author

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a  TSJ Mug and signed cover flat of The Furnace from Timothy S. Johnston. Four additional entrants will each win a signed cover flat of the The Furnace from Timothy S. Johnston. (Cover flat image may vary from eBook image above).  US/CANADA ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on January 1, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change at any time without notice*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. The cover is fantastic. The rest looks great as well.

  2. Great contest, love the mugs! Thanks, and happy holidays everyone!!

  3. Thanks for your interest. I love classic murder mysteries, and I wanted to take that scenario and transform it into a futuristic horror / thriller. Check out my website for more information about the book. --- TSJ