Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Cameron Johnston?
Cameron Johnston lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with his wife and an extremely fluffy cat. He is a swordsman, a gamer, an enthusiast of archaeology, history and mythology, a builder of LEGO, and owns far too many books to fit on his shelves. He loves exploring ancient sites and camping out under the stars by a roaring fire.
Your latest novel, God of Broken Things, was published this month by Angry Robot. The second novel in your Age of Tyranny series, how would you introduce it to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first book expect from this follow-up?
The Traitor God is part blood-soaked murder mystery and part swords and sorcery Lovecraftian apocalypse. God of Broken Things expands that universe and we get to see the ramifications of the events in The Traitor God, and also Edrin Walker’s discoveries about himself and who he wants to be, as opposed to who he was told he was for most of his life. Readers will get to leave the confines of Setharis and explore the snowy mountains of the Clanholds, where Walker confronts daemons, ancient spirits, an invading army, and worst of all, the extent of his own powers.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The Traitor God was born from a writing exercise. I used to write in only 3rd person points of view, and I decided to mix thing up and try my hand at a 1st person story. I started writing a short story called Head Games, about a gritty, grimy detective(ish) mage investigating a bizarre magical murder on the mean streets of a fantasy city. It was part Hellblazer’s John Constantine and part old-school swords and sorcery and that character took on a life of his own, demanding a bigger tale than that short story could provide. My inspiration in general is gathered by immersion in a variety of fiction genres from big blockbuster films to graphic novels, Japanese Manga and Korean Manhwa. I’m also a big fan of history, archaeology and mythology and love visiting castles and stone circles and anything ancient. That definitely influences my writing.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn’t. I grew up watching Dr Who with its scary daleks and cybermen, the D&D cartoon series, and reading the Dragonlance and Fighting Fantasy books my older brother had. Comics like 2000AD and Starblazer had a profound impact on me, and the Dungeons & Dragons RPG also caught my imagination, especially all the entries for the weird and wonderful monsters.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I like to write in silence and edit with some good tunes on in the background (Two Steps From Hell is great for those epic moments). Other than that, no terribly specific methods of writing spring to mind. As for researching, I’m all too aware of the dangerous of falling down the rabbit hole of research, following link after link of interesting things on Wikipedia, especially when you are building new worlds. It’s so easy to spend hour after hour noting cool little details and fleshing out societies and monster ecologies and the like when what I should really be doing is actually writing the novel – especially when most of it won’t even make it into the book!
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
Probably from the time I read my first books. It was a dream right up there after astronaut — and now I’ve had two books published I can turn my eye to that. It could still happen… My first foray was probably Transformers fan fiction involving Grimlock — he was the Dinobot who transforms into a T-Rex. That is peak coolness. I think it’s hard not to look back with fondness on any occasion where a kid allows their imagination to overflow into creativity.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a golden age of genre fiction at the moment. There are some absolutely superb books coming out from the big publishers, and the advent of easy access to ebooks has been a boon for small publishers. While small publishers and self-publishing has its quality pitfalls for readers, when it’s done right it allows for a lot of books, including niche books, the chance to find an appreciative audience. As for where my own work fits in – I’m not trying to push any message of my own or enlighten minds, I just hope to provide entertainment and allow readers to explore strange new worlds and interesting characters, and there is always a place for that.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a dark fantasy standalone novel taking influence from The Seven Samurai.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
The Poison Song by Jen Williams, third book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy (I highly recommend it!). After the end of book two, I’m not sure my heart is quite ready for this…
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
If they enjoy science fiction then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Children of Time — big, bold, epic and terribly smart science fiction.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure surprised is quite the word, if you know me, but I’ve recently been taking blacksmithing lessons. There’s something incredibly satisfying about forging hot metal with your own hands and hammer and creating something useful. Every beer I open with my hand-forged bottle opener tastes that little bit better.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
On a personal level, I’m looking forward to finishing this new work in progress and also the first novel of a new fantasy series. Hopefully both will find a good home. I’m also really looking forward to attending Worldcon in Dublin this year with some really big name fantasy authors attending. I may be an author but I’m also a huge fantasy fan.