I’ve met Johnny Worthen in person, but I’m usually too awed by the tie dye to focus enough to ask him intelligent questions, so I gave it a try through cyberspace, and it worked!
Yes, he really is this good at writing–and this intelligent.
I reviewed Beatrysel a few days ago. This book is a genuine five stars and I added it to my favorites list on Goodreads. I recommend it for a buy.
About the Book
CH: When was Beatrysel published?
JW: September 2013. She’s just a baby.
CH: Your bio mentions that you are a student of the occult. Have you ever raised a demon?
JW: I have not raised any of the named spirits from The Goetia, but I have sent “named focussed intents” into the universe with success.
CH: Is Beatrysel based on a demon you’ve known personally? Or is any resemblance purely coincidental?
JW: I have to say that I do know Beatrysel personally. In a literary and magical sense, I made her, raised her, and sent her into the world to do my will. There is a connection between writing and spell casting, a very close one. That you know her name, that you have seen her, and perhaps loved her, means that Beatrysel lives.
CH: Beatrysel was published this year, and soon we will be able to read Eleanor. You seem to have a preference for female creatures. Any reason for this?
JW: It’s an illusion. These are just the books that are coming out first. I have plenty with male figures, but there might be a reason for these titles coming first.
Eleanor undoubtedly has a central female protagonist, but I’m not sure who’d I’d cast as the lead in Beatrysel. It’s an ensemble piece really. Beatrysel is female because when I envisioned a perfect lover, being a heterosexual man, I made her one. It’s a limitation of my own prejudice.
Another prejudice of mine is surely a product of my literary training. I studied feminist criticism in depth for my graduate degree. I’m sensitive to the many injustices meted out to women in a male-dominated society.
Eleanor is complicated. What I needed there was a character on the fringes of society, as powerless as possible and easy to be ignored by her neighbors. Thus, she is a child, she is poor, and she is a girl; a trifecta of powerlessness in the male-dominated, capitalist America. This became the broad strokes for the creation of the character at the beginning. The story is about how this ordinary, unassuming girl is anything but ordinary, though she is always vulnerable.
CH: Whenever I conjured up an image for Beatrysel, she always appeared to be made of tie-dye. Does your background in the occult provide any explanation for this?
JW: Perhaps Jerry is doing me favors from the other side, or it means you’ve seen my bright and swirling colors. Tie-dye is my thing. I like bright colors and lots of them. It’s become a symbol of my writing, too, as a multi-genre author playing with chaos.
About the Author
CH: Aside from your current writing career, what was the most unusual job you have ever had?
JW: I was on the front line of the drug war for a while, collecting urine samples for drug testing.
CH: What is the most discouraging feedback you’ve ever received on your writing? How did you take it?
JW: I sent out queries to agents for years. I stopped calling them queries and started referring to them as “requests for rejection.” I got lots of those. Hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds. Agents are as elusive as unicorns.
The first one really hurt and I’ll never forget the instant I got it. I remember the moment, the place, the time of day.
To handle all the rejection, what I started to do is print out every single one I got and taped them to the back of my door. I do this to remind myself to keep trying and to show that I am trying. You should see my door. It’s more paper than wood now.
CH: What book has most influenced your drive to be an author?
JW: I have favorite books but I can’t say that they drove me to want to write. I’ve always written. I defined my college career on my love of writing. I kept a journal for most my life and sold my words for cash when I could do it. But I have an answer for you. At times I’ve picked up books that are not very good. Some of these books are best sellers and are talked about at the national level but leave me cold and scratching my head. It was these books more than anything that encouraged me to write and keep writing because – and I know how this makes me sound – because I knew I could write a better book than that.
CH: Where is your favorite place to write?
JW: I do my best work in a dark corner of a coffee shop with headphones on and the internet off.
CH: What is your preferred form of writing fuel?
JW: Oh, caffeine. Without a doubt, caffeine. I could dedicate every single book I’ve ever written to caffeine and the gods would agree.
CH: Chalk or dry erase?
JW: Dry erase. I like technology.
CH: How is your wife handling your fame and fortune?
JW: When it arrives we’ll see. Right now she’s wondering about all the marked up pages littering the front room. Oh, and all the papers taped to the door. “When are those coming down?” she asks.
CH: What is your next project?
JW: I’m writing a book now about a near future dystopia. I’m not sure if it’s working but I’m in it now and have to see it through.
I’m also shopping several other titles and getting ready for the Eleanor launch next year. I have an upcoming book called The Finger Trap to start a comedic mystery series but not until 2015. I thought that would be my first book out, but it’s looking like my 5th. So it goes.
I’m writing all the time and drinking too much coffee. I think about exercising every day and dieting too is on the agenda, as is raking the leaves and cleaning the rain gutters. Maybe next year.
Questions from the kids
I asked my offspring to give me one question each for you. Here are their questions, along with their ages.
Liam (16)—What perks about being an author do you find most appealing?
JW: I walked through a dry riverbed in southern Utah and happened upon an Anasazi ruin. In it, scratched on the sandstone wall, was a petroglyph. Being an author has given me the chance to scratch upon the wall. It is a way to send a signal into the future that I was here. It is a striving for immortality.
Conor (13)—How often have you started writing on an idea and then ditch it to start another one?
JW: I have a rule – Finish What I Start. I will not abandon a project once I actually start writing it. I have folders of ideas and outlines, maps and plans, quotes and story arcs that haven’t taken root yet, but once I actually begin I force myself to see it through at the exclusion of starting anything else. Allowances are made for editing of past projects, but I’m a one-story man. As for the folder, I probably go through five or six book ideas in depth before one rises up and demands my immediate attention.
JW: Oh, yeah! Dark for me. If you have to put nuts in it, make them almonds.
Johnny Worthen is a lifetime student of the occult and supernatural. Raised in a secluded suburb of Salt Lake City, he gravitated to the more obscure paths of spiritual knowledge. He is a Freemason, twice Past Master of his Lodge, youngest ever at the time.
Johnny received a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Classics minor before earning a Master’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Utah. He lived a year in Denmark and a decade in Oregon until the rain drove him back to the dry high deserts of Utah. He married his junior-prom date and together they have two sons.
After many varied and interesting careers, Johnny writes full time now.
Email Johnny Worthen at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on one of the following links: