Another one of the 21 fabulous writers who contributed to Army of Brass stopped by for an interview. For a few more days you can get all of the Collaborative Writing Challenge’s novels for just $.99!
Take it away Johnny!
PD: How did you first get involved with the CWC?
Johnny Caputo: I stumbled across CWC on a writing list serve and thought it would be a great way to challenge myself, to shake up my writing routine, and generate some fresh ideas. Write a randomly assigned chapter of a novel? Sign me up! I first participated in the collaborative fantasy novel Esyld’s Awakening, and then, because I had so much fun with that experience, jumped at the chance to write for Army of Brass.
PD: What is your favorite part of working collaboratively?
JC: I love the improvisational element of it. As a writer, I could introduce a character in chapter 3 with some very clear intentions for how I see that character developing, but by the time my turn to write another chapter rolls around, that character has made a complete left turn. It provides a great sense of challenge and community because you know your ideas will grow in ways you never expected them to. And you also know you’ll never run out of ideas because you have a team of writers working to give you more.
PD: Did you have much experience with Steampunk before the collaboration?
JC: Practically none. I’ve seen a few movies here and there, but most of what I write is bent towards futuristic sci-fi. In that respect, the steampunk world of Army of Brass provided me not only with a dive into the deep end of the genre, but also with a great opportunity sharpen my writing skills.
PD: How often do you write?
JC: I write in some way every day, but with the responsibilities that come with being a human being, it’s always a challenge to make that time. I’ve found that juggling several projects helps to keep me coming back to the desk. I try to set aside 3-4 chunks of several hours each week to work on my novel because in order to make progress on that project, I need extended those stretches of time. Additionally, I’m collaborating with an artist on a webcomic, and I can work on that project for a half hour at a time and still feel like I got something done. I’m developing an ongoing Twitter narrative about a scientist who explores alternate realities, and I can get one of those posts done in 5-10 minutes. Juggling a variety of projects like this helps me from getting stuck, and allows me to feel like I’ve made some type of progress every day.
PD: What is your ideal setting for writing?
JC: I definitely need it to be quiet, and I also need to be able to move. Getting up and taking 30 second mini laps really helps me when I’m stuck staring at the screen. I prefer to be outside if I can, but I live in Northeast Ohio, so that’s not possible 5 months out of the year. During those fall/winter months, I rotate a lot. Some days I’ll write at home, some days at a coffee shop after work, some days I’ll get to work an hour early and write at my desk. For whatever reason, I can’t sit in the same place at the same time every day and write. Sometimes that works for me, but only for a few weeks at a time. I’ve found that switching my routine every few weeks helps to keep my momentum moving forward.
PD: What is your favorite genre to write?
JC: I love writing futuristic sci-fi. Sometimes that means dimension-hopping superheroes, sometimes mad scientists exploring time manipulation, sometimes engineers facing down the moral conundrums of radical alternative energy solutions. I’m fascinated by the way that technological progress, the natural world, and human morality collide in this genre.
PD: Are there any genres you haven’t tried but would like to?
JC: Now that my experience with Army of Brass has introduced me to steampunk, I’d love to mess around with it some more. I have a character kicking around in the back of my head, so it’s only a matter of time before she makes it to the page.
PD: Are there any writers who inspire you?
JC: Ray Bradbury’s work ethic blows my mind. He approached writing like a team of architects and contractors approach building a house. Start from the ground up, build something every day, know when you need to tear down some walls and build something new. There’s a workmanlike quality to his work that I try to replicate.
Octavia Butler also blows my mind. I only discovered her a few years ago but am consistently blown away every time I pick up one of her books. The grit in her characters, particularly her female characters, is downright awe-inspiring. She was a true champion for making genre fiction accessible to women and minorities. She actively opened so many doors for people who had been excluded from the world of genre fiction while maintaining a strong literary sensibility. If you’ve never read Dawn or Parable of the Sower, move them to the top of your list.
PD: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
JC: Write. Don’t stop. Seek critical feedback before you ask your best friend to read something, but still ask your best friend to read it. Strive to get better and fall in love with the process of getting better. If you can find a balance between always striving to grow as a writer, yet not get bogged down by how much growing you have left to do, you’ll be more than alright. Someone way smarter than I once said the only way you can fail as a writer is if you stop writing.
PD: Where can we find more of your writing?
JC: You can find more of my writing at my website or by following me on Twitter @gojohnnycap.
Thanks a lot Johnny!
Order your e-book copy of Army of Brass for $.99 for a limited time.
We’ve got an amazing giveaway going on for the entire blog tour. Enter to win e-books from our Army of Brass contributing authors.
Check out the other blog tour stops for more info about the book and the wonderful writers who helped me bring it to life.
4/13 – A Sneak Peek at Chapter 1 by Jason Pere
4/14 – Launch announcement
4/15 – Interview with contributor Jason Pere
4/16 – Memes in the Making
4/17 – Excerpt by Jim O’Loughlin
4/18 – The Pros and Cons of Collaborative Writing
4/19 – Interview with contributor Jean Grabow
4/20 – Collaboration is the Future by Kathrin Hutson
4/21 – Excerpt by Michael Cieslak
4/22 – Excerpt by Dorothy Emry
4/23 – Review by Penny Blake
4/24 – Character interview of Captain Jack Davenport
4/24 – What’s in a Name? Steampunk Before “Steampunk”
4/25 – Steampunk: The First 10 Years
4/25 – Interview with contributor Jeremiah Rickert
4/26 – Steampunk: The Second Decade
4/27 – Steampunk: The Last 10 Years
4/27 – Excerpt by Phoebe Darqueling
4/30 – Review by Victoria L. Szulc
5/1 – Prim & Proper? Not These Steam Age Murderesses by Phoebe Darqueling