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Interview with Timothy S. Johnston


Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. The War Beneath was published by ChiZine Publications on January 1, 2019.



Interview with Timothy S. Johnston




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. The War Beneath, the first novel in your new The Rise of Oceania series, was recently published. Describe The War Beneath using only 5 words.

Timothy:

Underwater espionage science fiction thriller.

or

Hold your breath or die trying! (That’s six words, I know.)



TQTell us something about The War Beneath that is not found in the book description.

Timothy:  Every scene takes place underwater, either in a submersible, a habitat, or while swimming. There is no exposition or dialogue above the surface or on land at all.



TQYou seem to like putting your characters in inhospitable environments. Why did you choose under water for this series?

Timothy:  For this book, I imagined a world suffering from global warming and rising ocean levels. To me the oceans are the next frontier for humanity. There are untold resources there that we will undoubtedly look to as temperatures continue to increase on land. Another reason might be that because the characters live in an intense undersea world, and are always under greater pressures than at the surface, this mirrors the pressure of the situations they’re dealing with. It ramps up tension and keeps readers turning the pages.



TQWhat kinds of research did you do for The War Beneath?

Timothy:  I had to study marine exploration over the past century or so. I had to learn about innovations in the past and what might be coming in the near future. Also, I had to understand what living under pressure — in a saturation environment — would mean for people. The inhabitants of the undersea world can’t swim to the surface in an emergency (they would get The Bends) and I had to learn about this and be able to explain it without interrupting the adventure and excitement. I also had to study the undersea environment: the bathymetry, marine life, geology, and so on. The research and plotting always takes longer than the actual writing, to make it all seem more realistic. It was lots of fun!



TQIn a prior interview you stated that you are a plotter. Did any of the characters in The War Beneath surprise you?

Timothy:  Oh yes! This always happens when writing. Side characters turn out to be very likeable, or they turn out to be better villains than I had originally planned. I don’t want to say who, though, but when writing, a character will suddenly tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, what if I did this? Wouldn’t that be cool?” A novel is an organic thing once you begin writing. Even though I have the broad brush strokes down before writing the first word, each character takes on a life of their own and helps direct the story in a natural, dramatic, and tense fashion.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The War Beneath.

Timothy:  Erik Mohr of Made by Emblem in Toronto designed it. I think it’s brilliant, but I have to confess that my publisher and the artist are responsible for it. The floating corpse near the surface was a fantastic choice. It ensures readers know that this is an underwater thriller, especially with the structure partially hidden by the depths.



TQDoes The War Beneath touch on any social issues?

Timothy:  The most emotional theme in this book is one of fathers and sons. It’s something I think about sometimes. Growing up, we look with admiration and adoration at our fathers. The position a father reaches in life also puts great pressure on sons. How are we supposed to achieve what our dads have? How are we supposed to exceed their accomplishments? This is particularly difficult when the father is famous or has reached monumental goals in life. I feel for children of celebrities, for instance. However, the corollary of this is, What if the father has committed an unspeakable crime? Something the son is ashamed of? How does it affect the son’s growth and development? This is a major theme in The War Beneath. The title has a dual meaning, and this is it.



TQYou are an unrepentant genre bender. Where does The War Beneath fit in the genre spectrum?

Timothy:  It’s a thriller, and it has a science/technological element, so it is science fiction thriller. It is for mainstream readers, however, so it might also be called a technothriller. It’s a grand underwater adventure though. I describe it as Mission: Impossible meets The Hunt for Red October, or sometimes as James Bond underwater. I think its appeal is very broad. There is a healthy dose of science in this book too.



TQYour prior series, The Tanner Sequence, was a trilogy. What do you have planned for The Rise of Oceania?

Timothy:  This is a series. I’ve already written the first three books and they are either out or in the pipeline. The Savage Deeps is coming November 2019. I’m also hoping to extend it to six books in total, but we’ll have to see.



TQDo The Rise of Oceania and The Tanner Sequence share anything thematically?

Timothy:  The environments in my books seem to always be hostile. By that I don’t mean that the ocean is hostile; I mean that it’s dangerous. If a character goes outside for too long, they’ll die. This adds tension and heightens drama in any situation. As a writer, I enjoy this. As a reader, I think it makes for a page-turner. Several reviewers have already said they found themselves holding their breath during underwater action sequences. This pleases me to no end.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The War Beneath.

Timothy:

        When I had awoken that morning, I’d assumed it would be the same as any other day. Now here I was, mentally preparing myself to pursue and kill a traitorous operative of TCI. A former friend. It was surreal.

and:

        A minute later the warsub began searching with her active sonar, pinging away once every couple of seconds. No doubt they had detected us heading for the seamount and had heard our thrusters cut out. Since we were now a part of the bottom terrain, however, I hoped that they could not see us.
        And then the unthinkable happened.
        She started to drop her mines.



TQWhat's next?

TimothyThe Savage Deeps is coming in November 2019. Fatal Depth is coming in 2020 (both from ChiZine Publications.) I am currently making the book-signing rounds in Southern Ontario. I love meeting other fans of science fiction thrillers.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Timothy:  Thanks for having me again! I hope people will enter their names in my draw for TSJ swag! I have new stuff to give away. Also visit my blog at www.timothysjohnston.com/blog to read my movie, book, and videogame reviews and also to enter my contests.





The War Beneath
The Rise of Oceania 1
ChiZine Publications, January 1, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook, 350 pages

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston
Living and working underwater can be a dangerous thing. First the bulkheads sweat, then there’s a trickle of water . . .

. . . and then in an instant you’re gone. The only thing left is a bloody pulp in the dark water and crushed bone fragments on the seafloor.

And you can’t bolt to the surface in an emergency. . . . The bends will get you.

But that’s not the worst. When you’re living underwater and also working as a spy for your city, that’s when things get really dangerous.

Truman McClusky has been out of the intelligence business for years, working the kelp farms and helping his city Trieste flourish on the shallow continental shelf just off the coast of Florida. Until his former partner shows up, that is, steals a piece of valuable new technology and makes a mad dash into the Atlantic. Before he knows it, Mac ends up back in the game, chasing the spy to not only recapture the tech, but to kill his former friend.

But when he learns the grim truth behind the theft, it sends his stable life into turmoil and plunges him into an even deadlier mission: evade the submarines of hostile foreign powers, escape assassins, and forge through the world’s oceans at breakneck pace on a daring quest to survive, with more lethal secrets than he thought possible in his pocket.

The future of the city depends on McClusky . . . if he can make it back home.





About Timothy

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston
Timothy S. Johnston is a lifelong fan of thrillers and science fiction thrillers in both print and film. His greatest desire is to contribute to the genre which has given him so much over the past four decades. He wishes he could personally thank every novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, director and actor who has ever inspired him to tell great stories. He has been an educator for twenty years and a writer for thirty. He lives on planet Earth, but he dreams of the stars. Visit www.timothysjohnston.com to register for news alerts, read his blog and reviews, and learn more about his current and upcoming thrillers. Timothy is the author of THE WAR BENEATH and THE SAVAGE DEEPS. His futuristic murder mystery/thrillers include THE FURNACE, THE FREEZER, and THE VOID. Follow Timothy on Facebook @TSJAuthor and Twitter @TSJ_Author.





Author Giveaway

What: 3 prizes / 3 winners:
1. A signed copy of the trade paperback of THE WAR BENEATH + TSJ pens and bookmark.
2. TSJ Pens and Bookmark package.
3. TSJ Pens and Bookmark package.
Interview with Timothy S. Johnston
US / CANADA ONLY

How:
  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ gmail.com [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Beneath“ with or without the quotation marks.
  • In the body of the email, please provide your name and full mailing address. The winning names and addresses are used only to mail the giveaway items and is provided The Qwillery and to the author only for that purpose. All other address information will be deleted by The Qwillery once the giveaway ends.
Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a United States or Canadian mailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on April 14, 2019. 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 without any notice.*

Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015


Now that 2015 has come to a close, some of us at The Qwillery are going to share our Top, Best, and/or Favorite books on last year. Here are Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015:


My favorite science fiction book of the year is The Void by Timothy S. Johnston. It's the last book in a genre-bending trilogy. The trilogy used its galaxy's many different environments to create a dramatic, engaging story with a satisfying ending—and there's nothing better than a satisfying ending to a great trilogy.


Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015
The Void
The Tanner Sequence 3
Carina Press, March 25, 2015
eBook, 106,000 words

2403 AD

It would be easier to kill him than to trust him.

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for CCF Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. After spending years apprehending murderers, he's ready to hang up his pistol. Babysitting a prisoner will bring him to Alpha Centauri, where he can search for a way to escape the CCF forever.

If he makes it.

When his ship breaks down in deep space and a CCF research vessel comes to his aid, Tanner realizes he's in terrible danger: the scientists on board have blocked his distress call. And when Tanner's prisoner escapes, he begins to suspect that the proximity of the research vessel had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the CCF's relentless reach.

Facing near-certain death by his own organization, Tanner must unravel a tangled skein of vengeance, duplicity and murder in deep space. But he's being held at the will of master puppeteers, and if he can't cut the strings, he'll dance straight to a gruesome, excruciating death....

A Tanner Sequence Novel




My favorite fantasy book of the year is The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. It's an Asian-influenced epic fantasy with some wonderfully engaging characters. The world building is top notch and I can't wait to dig into the next book in the series.


Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015
The Grace of Kings
The Dandelion Dynasty 1
Saga Press, April 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 640 pages

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.




My favorite horror book of the year is The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells. Wells breathed new life in his first trilogy by taking John out of his small-town life and throwing in an entirely new environment with a whole new cast of supporting characters. He raised the stakes and added to the mythology of his creatures. I can't wait to see where he takes us.


Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015
The Devil's Only Friend
John Cleaver 4
Tor Books, June 16, 2015
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

John Wayne Cleaver hunts demons: they've killed his neighbors, his family, and the girl he loves, but in the end he's always won. Now he works for a secret government kill team, using his gift to hunt and kill as many monsters as he can . . .

. . . but the monsters have noticed, and the quiet game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full scale supernatural war.

John doesn't want the life he's stuck with. He doesn't want the FBI bossing him around, he doesn't want his only friend imprisoned in a mental ward, and he doesn't want to face the terrifying cannibal who calls himself The Hunter. John doesn't want to kill people. But as the song says, you can't always get what you want. John has learned that the hard way; his clothes have the stains to prove it.
When John again faces evil, he'll know what he has to do.

The Devil's Only Friend is the first book in a brand-new John Wayne Cleaver trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells.




My favorite graphic novel of the year goes to The Creeps: Book 1 Night of the Frankenfrogs by Chris Schweizer. This is a children's horror story, but it shows Schweizer's talent that he can entertain a man in his late 30s. There are plenty of twists and humor along the way and his art style is refreshingly one-of-a-kind. Do your inner child a favor and read this book.


Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015
The Creeps
Book 1 Night of the Frankenfrogs
Amulet Books, August 15, 2015
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 128 pages

At Pumpkins County Middle School weird things happen every class period, not to mention during lunch, but nobody ever makes a fuss. Principal Garish thinks what's weird and...well...creepy is how fascinating the mysterious goings-on are to Carol, a big-city girl new to Pumpkins County, who finds kindred spirits in Mitchell (monster expert), Mark (military brat with logistics know-how), and Rosario (girly girl on the outside, muscle underneath). The Creeps are on the case to figure out the spooky mysteries and still get to class on time. Last week it was a pudding monster. This week, it's disappearing classmates and a suspiciously coincidental animal-rights petition being passed around by the snootiest girl in class. Could she be behind an amphibian menace? Or could it be the mad genius who lives in the sewers? How about the school janitor? The Creeps will track down the answers!

In a place that's a little bit Gravity Falls and a little bit Goosebumps, the Creeps will have no end of mysteries to dig into while they try to keep their grades up too. Chris Schweizer's fun art is full of the visual puns and clues that graphic novels can do so well.


Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015


Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. The Void, the 3rd novel in The Tanner Sequence, is out today from Carina Press. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Timothy a Happy Publication Day.



Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015




THE VOID: A Classic Murder Mystery in Outer Space
by Timothy S. Johnston

Classic murder mysteries are strangely comforting. There’s something so familiar about them. Perhaps this is thanks to Agatha Christie and the works she’s best known for: THE MOUSETRAP or AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. There are common elements in any story of this type: a confined and claustrophobic location, a hostile environment, a small cast of characters including one murderer and one investigator, a rising body count, storms, power outages, increasing paranoia, and a shocking reveal. I knew I wanted to write stories of this type, but I wanted to transform them into Science Fiction Thrillers. This would give me the ability to pick new and exciting locations and also incorporate some science and technology into the method of murder — something the investigator would have to figure out in order to not only catch the killer, but also to prevent his own death.

The formula I’ve used for THE VOID is the same as in any classic murder mystery. However, the location is the fascinating component here, and opening it up to all of outer space gave me some exciting new options. THE FURNACE is set at a station in close orbit around the sun. THE FREEZER on an ice moon of Jupiter. And with my new novel, THE VOID, I chose the vast loneliness of interstellar space. This gave me the isolated, dangerous location. The characters can’t leave their disabled ship. There’s simply nowhere to go. And with the requisite power outages, there’s no way they can call for help. They’re trapped.

Incorporating a scientific component to the plot is always fun, however one has to keep it compelling and easy to understand. I realize that you can’t bog down a story with too much science. At its heart, THE VOID is a murder mystery, plain and simple.

In this story, Inspector Kyle Tanner discovers the body of a woman in her mid-thirties. The crew of her disabled vessel state repeatedly that the death was due to natural causes. Being a homicide investigator, Tanner of course disputes this, but how can he prove it? He has to not only discover the cause of death, but also decipher the clues around him to expose a conspiracy.

I hope you enjoy THE VOID. I wrote it to feel like a comforting traditional murder mystery, but I know readers will love the technological twist I’ve thrown in!

Take care,

Timothy S. Johnston
20 March 2015





The Void
The Tanner Sequence 3
Carina Press, March 25, 2015
eBook, 106,000 words
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015
2403 AD

It would be easier to kill him than to trust him.

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for CCF Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. After spending years apprehending murderers, he's ready to hang up his pistol. Babysitting a prisoner will bring him to Alpha Centauri, where he can search for a way to escape the CCF forever.

If he makes it.

When his ship breaks down in deep space and a CCF research vessel comes to his aid, Tanner realizes he's in terrible danger: the scientists on board have blocked his distress call. And when Tanner's prisoner escapes, he begins to suspect that the proximity of the research vessel had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the CCF's relentless reach.

Facing near-certain death by his own organization, Tanner must unravel a tangled skein of vengeance, duplicity and murder in deep space. But he's being held at the will of master puppeteers, and if he can't cut the strings, he'll dance straight to a gruesome, excruciating death....

A Tanner Sequence Novel
and


Brannigan's Review

The Void is the last book in a exciting science fiction thriller series by Timothy S. Johnston. Throughout this series, I've been continually impressed by Johnston's skill in blending different genres. He ends the series on a high note. With each book, Johnston picked a fascinating setting in space, near the sun, a frozen moon and now in the last book dead space. In the area between solar systems, nothing is surrounding our hero Kyle Tanner for light years... except a person bent on killing him and the woman he loves. It shares similar attributes to lost at sea stories. I loved the feeling of being adrift in an all-encompassing void.

Even though The Void is the last book in the series, it's not necessary for the reader to have read the previous two books. Johnston does a great job of giving readers enough information about past events to keep them from being lost. It's also a nice refresher for those of us who read the other books when they first came out.

The mystery this go round was the best yet. I kept thinking I knew who it was, but I was pleasantly wrong. I also enjoyed the action and pacing in this story as it kept climbing towards a climatic ending that didn't disappoint. Nearly everything changes for Kyle. I found the characters in this book to also be my favorite out of the series. The side characters were the strongest by far and very well developed. I would love to see a series devoted to one of the survivors.

Johnston did a wonderful job of bringing closure to Kyle as a character and to the world Johnston created. Everything changed and developed from book one to this last book. You truly go on a journey through the series. Besides bringing closure, Johnston also allows several options to continue the story and I for one would love to spend more time with Kyle.

The Void is a phenomenal ending to a fast-paced electric series. I'm sad to see it come to an end and hope to read more. There is a lot of violence, strong language, and adult situations, so I would recommended it to adult readers only. For those of you who like to read a whole series all at once with no wait, your wait is over. For those of you that want an exhilarating escape, look no farther. With the strong characters, outstanding world-building and blend of genres there's something for everyone.



Note: You may read Brannigan's reviews of  The Furnace (The Tanner Sequence 1) here
and The Freezer (The Tanner Sequence 2) here.






About Timothy

Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015
Photo by Tiffany Jones Photography, 2013
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  ~  Goodreads  ~  Instagram





Previously

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

Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015
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...


The Freezer
The Tanner Sequence 2
Carina Press, August 25, 2014
eBook, 98,000 words

Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015
A Tanner Sequence Novel
2402 AD

CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out in the asteroid belt first. But when you're as tangled up in conspiracy as Tanner is, a few hours on a case can change your life. Or end it.

The mystery is a strange one--one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Still, Tanner's ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first faint clue, but the clock is ticking. He has four days....

A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter's moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds.

Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. Johnston


The Qwillery is thrilled to reveal the cover of The Void, the 3rd novel in The Tanner Sequence, by Timothy S. Johnston. The Void will be published on March 30, 2015 by Carina Press.


The Void
The Tanner Sequence 3
Carina Press, March 25, 2015
eBook

Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. Johnston

A Tanner Sequence Novel

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. But when his ship breaks down in interstellar space and another murderer starts carving a path through the people around him, Tanner realizes that he might be in over his head. Unfortunately there’s no one to call for help, and the days are ticking down to his probable death. He’s facing a mysterious threat in deep space, but he knows that if he can’t decipher the clues and capture the killer, he’ll at least die trying …

The Void is coming from Timothy S. Johnston and Carina Press on March 30, 2015. It is the third book in The Tanner Sequence, a series of standalone murder mysteries set in unique and claustrophobic environments. The first two are The Furnace (2013) and The Freezer (2014.)
or
More Pre-order links at Timothy's Website



You may read Brannigan's reviews of  The Furnace (The Tanner Sequence 1) here
and The Freezer (The Tanner Sequence 2) here.






About Timothy

Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. Johnston
Photo by Tiffany Jones Photography, 2013
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  ~  Goodreads

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014


Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. The Freezer, the second novel in The Tanner Sequence, is out today from Carina Press.



Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. In The Furnace you showed great skill in combining Sci-fi/military and Techno Thriller, do you stick to those same genres in The Freezer or do you blend different genres in the second book?

Timothy:  Hello! It’s a pleasure to be back. As in The Furnace, The Freezer is a murder mystery with elements of Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Horror. Film has had a big influence on me, and movies such as THE THING, ALIEN, THE FLY, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BLADE RUNNER resonate in everything I create. I love the genre. The greatest SF writer, in my opinion, was Isaac Asimov, and his mystery plots (The Robot Novels for instance) are highly compelling. Additionally, Edgar Allan Poe’s dark gothic mysteries are fantastic. I think if you took all these things and put them in a blender, you might end up with The Freezer.



TQ:  When you started out writing did you consciously want to blend genres or did it just happen naturally based on your own personal interests? How has your writing process changed over the years?

Timothy:  I’m hoping to attract a mainstream audience with this series. Michael Crichton was a master at it. For this reason, the science is all grounded in reality and I don’t use aliens or alien civilizations. I want to make things relevant to issues today around the world and relatable to the mainstream. Was a multi-genre book a conscious decision? Yes. I wanted to write a murder mystery. The setting of any mystery of this sort is crucial. I love futuristic locations because the potential for drama is huge. The vacuum of space, airlocks, the chilling temperatures on an ice-moon of Jupiter, for instance. In The Freezer, the base is located on Europa’s ice ocean which covers the entire moon. There is no land there at all. Fissures can open at any time and swallow you. There are water volcanoes there too. Hubble caught images of a 200 km high plume of water just last year! Settings like that are just perfect for someone like me. Put a claustrophobic base in a place like that, make it a military setting where the chain of command is incontrovertible, and throw a murder in the mix, and the potential for drama is just massive.

In regards to how my process has changed over the years … I would say that I spend more time planning and plotting and researching now than I did in the past. The more pre-writing work you do, the easier the actual writing becomes. And the more you research — even if it’s not used in the book — the better the framework holding the plot in place. The characters I am writing have whole histories behind them, even if only a little bit is ever mentioned. It all contributes to how they behave and interact with others in the books, to make things more realistic.



TQThe Freezer takes place on a frozen moon of Jupiter. How did you research that type of setting to immerse the reader? Did you take a trip anywhere cold to get an authentic feel?

Timothy:  Well, that’s a good question. I’m attracted to cold settings. Movies like THE THING, THE GREY, X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. I’m not 100% sure why I love that setting, but it can provide a terrifying atmosphere. I grew up in Canada and I’ve been through some incredible winters. Picture a meter of snow falling in 24 hours! It’s truly awesome. Everything in the city just shuts down. Of course, in a book of this type you need a setting where people simply can’t leave the facility, so a cold environment like Europa, which is an ocean of ice on a layer of liquid water, is perfect. I also want the environment to mirror the Investigator’s emotions in this series. In The Furnace it was the heat of the investigation and a descent into hell for Tanner. It was incredibly dangerous and the investigation took place in a claustrophobic facility growing in temperature over the span of the novel. Uncomfortable people will not act normally. Their innermost feelings and emotions will boil to the surface. In The Freezer something happens to Tanner early on, and this affects his emotional state. He becomes slightly unbalanced, cold and somewhat heartless. He’s on the edge. The chilling temperature at the station affects everyone and keeps them on edge as well. It’s a real source of tension in this book.



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

Timothy:  A question that haunted me while I wrote The Freezer was: Would a homicide investigator consider murder to avenge someone he loved? Since Tanner works for a military dictatorship, he can basically murder anyone he wants and is able to justify it through his position as an Investigator. However, Tanner is a moral person and he wants to help people. He doesn’t really want to be a weapon of the military. However, if you push him hard enough … Let’s just say that the ending of this book is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever written. I’m so proud of it.



TQ:  Will The Tanner Sequence end after book 3, The Void, or would you like it to be a long-running series? And if it is going to continue, do you have other exotic locations to which you'll send Kyle Tanner next? If yes, can you give us a hint?

Timothy:  Carina Press is releasing The Void early in 2015. It takes place in the lonely emptiness between stars. Tanner’s ship breaks down while he’s transporting a serial killer, another ship is also stranded nearby, and [bleep] hits the fan! I love these characters and would be open to writing more. As to other locations … yes, I do have ideas! Because these are claustrophobic murder mysteries, the settings have to be isolated and dangerous. If I do write more, I promise that I will keep Tanner working in remote facilities and stations. I also have other ideas about the future of the military dictatorship in this series. I am interested in exploring it, to write about The Fall, so to speak.



TQ:  Your first book, The Furnace, was self-published before you made a deal with Carina to publish three books. Now that you've gone through both types of publishing, do you see a value in one over the other?

Timothy:  There is a team behind me now, working to help create the best product possible. I welcome advice on what could make the writing more compelling. I prefer this, no doubt about it. It’s hard to be objective about your books when you are independent. Take movies, for instance. You film the movie, then you edit. Then you test with an audience. If things aren’t working, you re-edit and reshoot and tweak things. Then you re-test it. Books are no different. I still have my creative freedom, but I do value other opinions! I listen to my editor(s) and my agent. Even people who reviewed The Furnace had an impact on my writing.



TQ:  Do you see yourself going back to self-publishing or even using Kickstarter in the future, or will you continue to go the traditional publishing route?

Timothy:  Never say never, but I will stick with traditional publishing. I like having people in my corner, helping create the best product, and also helping market it.



TQ:  In other interviews, you've mentioned that you're very particular about aliens, will we ever see aliens in your novels? What types of aliens do you like? Is there a book or movie alien you like or dislike?

Timothy:  Once again, never say never. I do have some ideas … but for now I would like to avoid aliens. As I mentioned, I am trying to write for mainstream Sci-Fi fans and would like to focus on humans and basic human emotions that are more relatable for people. That being said, I would be open to writing for other series and using aliens from those worlds. A STAR TREK book, for instance. As for my favorite aliens in film and books … I enjoy ones who make compelling and scary antagonists. The original Alien from Ridley Scott’s 1979 film of course. Also James Cameron’s ALIENS. Predator from the original film. The aliens from Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY series are great because they are very mysterious and not well understood by humans. The Buggers from ENDER’S GAME because they are used more as a natural disaster or a force of nature than a well-understood villain. I didn’t really enjoy the Predator from the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) film because it contravened the rules that earlier films had created! PREDATOR took place in a hot tropical jungle. PREDATOR 2 during a heat wave in Los Angeles. The implication is that these aliens are from a hotter planet and prefer this type of environment when they are hunting humans. Then all of a sudden they put Predators in Antarctica … it just didn’t make sense. Stick to the established rules of your series! I think movie-goers — especially of genre work — are smart people and you can’t break your own rules.



TQ:  Do you plan on focusing all your writing on novels or would you like to try your hand at writing scripts, graphic novels, plays, poetry or Young Adult books in the future?

Timothy:  My intention is to focus on novels for the near future. That being said, if there was ever interest by a film production company into turning The Furnace, The Freezer or The Void into movies, I would of course be open to doing the script. And why wouldn’t there be!? These are intense murder mysteries in incredibly hostile settings! I think the movie potential is huge. The visuals in these books are epic and the tension is palpable. I would also be interested in writing for another series. A STAR TREK or STAR WARS book for instance. I love those worlds and characters and would be very open to exploring them.



TQ:  What's next?

TimothyThe Void is coming early next year. I visited an anatomy lab, interviewed a forensic pathologist, visited the pathology department and the morgue. Parts of the book are very graphic, and I wanted to get it right. Doing the research was … there are just few words to describe it. Visiting the anatomy lab was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have the utmost respect for forensic pathologists. They solve crimes and give families closure every single day.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Timothy:  My pleasure! I hope The Qwillery will be open to also reviewing The Void early next year.

TQ:  Of course!





The Freezer
Series:  The Tanner Sequence 2
Publisher:  Carina Press, August 25, 2014
Format:  eBook, 98,000 words
eISBN: 9781426898853
List Price:   $2.99
Review Copy: Provided by the Author

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014
A Tanner Sequence Novel
2402 AD

CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out in the asteroid belt first. But when you're as tangled up in conspiracy as Tanner is, a few hours on a case can change your life. Or end it.

The mystery is a strange one--one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Still, Tanner's ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first faint clue, but the clock is ticking. He has four days....

A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter's moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds.


Brannigan's Review

The Freezer is the second book in a science fiction thriller series by Timothy S. Johnston. Johnston shows great skill in blending different genres. With both books set in outer space, science fiction is the main genre but then Johnston adds in other genres that add more dimensions to the story. There's a military aspect with the CCF, a council ruling everyone in the known galaxy with a iron fist. Our hero, Kyle Tanner, brings a nice noir-flavored gumshoe detective to the book, and the mysteries for both books have a medical slant to each of them. And lastly there’s action and thrills. That makes it easy for anyone with a pulse to find something to like in his books.

It's not necessary for the reader to have read The Furnace before jumping into the second book. Johnston does a great job of giving the reader enough information about past events to keep them from being lost or as a nice refresher for those of us who read the first book a year ago when it first came out. As the mystery is all important in a murder mystery, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the book by the fact that I hadn't figured it all out. I figured out a few things along the way, which I think we all enjoy, but there was enough that surprised me and kept me reading to find out who did it.

Johnston is a master of setting in The Freezer. You quickly get lost on the frozen moon of Jupiter. The environment acts as another character in the story as it changes and evolves with the mystery. Johnston is wonderful at not just using the setting as a backdrop for his stories but also immersing the characters in it and making them struggle to survive it. This is where most of the action and thrills came in the book and some of my favorite scenes were encased in the setting.

My only complaint of the book was about the timing of a certain character's death. I felt like it happened too soon. I would have preferred to have a little more time with the character so I could feel more invested in what it meant for Tanner to lose that relationship. I do, however, like how Tanner coped with the death as the story progressed, but I still think it would have had more of an emotional impact for me if I had had more time with the character.

On a side note, I'd like to mention one of my favorite aspects of the The Freezer is actually a sub-plot of the story that can also be found in The Furnace. It deals with the CCF and the way it rules the galaxy. I hope I'm not misreading the signs, and if I am I hope this might become reality, but I really want Tanner to change his allegiance and start a rebellion against the CCF. He would make a great rebel leader fighting the good fight.

The Freezer delivers what it promises as the thrills and mysteries ramp up and don't stop until the end, leaving you to catch your breath until the next book in the series arrives. There is violence, some strong language, as well as suggested adult situations, so I would recommended it to adult readers. I'd also recommend it to anyone looking for a quick escape in a hard environment. It's also good for those of you who like a challenging mystery to solve and conspiracy-junkies to speculate on what's in store for Tanner.





Also in the Tanner Sequence

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

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014
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...


Read Brannigan's Review of of The Furnace here.





About Timothy

Interview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014
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



Review: The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston


The Furnace
Series:  The Tanner Sequence 1
Author:  Timothy S. Johnston
Publisher:  Carina Press, December 23, 2013
Originally self-published September 19, 2011
Format:  eBook, 115,000 words
List Price:  $2.99
eISBN:  9781426897689
Review Copy: Provided by the Author

Review: The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston
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...



Brannigan's Review:

The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston is set in a future ruled by an all-powerful military power. Each of the planets in our solar system have a military settlement. Kyle Tanner is a military crime investigator who has found success and unwanted fame for his ability to solve some of the most high-profile crimes across the known universe. It's his record of success that sends him on his current assignment to a space station orbiting the sun with a skeleton crew of scientists and military officers. When one of the men dies during a spacewalk, and has his head and hands cut off before an autopsy could be performed, Tanner is sent to the space station to investigate. While he thinks his job is to figure out if the man's death was an accident or a murder, he soon discovers there's much more going on than a single murder and it's up to him to not only stop the murder, but to also save the galaxy.

The Furnace is a fast-paced, science-fiction/thriller that takes you for a ride from the first page to the last. I've never read a book that uses so many different genres in such a skillful way. The Furnace could have been just a mystery set in a space station orbiting the Sun, but Johnston makes it much more by using aspects from military and medical thrillers to give the novel a fresh approach that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The mystery/crime in the story is just as fascinating as the characters. It evolves as the story progresses, which left me changing my mind as I learned there was so much more going on than I could have ever suspected at first. That said, there are a few events that take place that made me wonder why the characters chose to do certain things, but the ride is so enjoyable I didn't get thrown out of the story. In the end, The Furnace is a great ride that keeps you entertained and wanting more, while also planting very interesting ideas in your mind about future possibilities.

Because of the nature of the story and the military influence, there is descriptive violence and strong language, so I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy Science Fiction/Thrillers, Medical Thrillers or anyone who likes a quick, easy read. I look forward to reading Johnston's next book.




Read an interview with Timothy here.


Interview with Timothy S. Johnston Brannigan's Top Four Books of 2015Guest Blog by Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Void - March 30, 2015Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. JohnstonInterview with Timothy S. Johnston and Review of The Freezer - August 25, 2014Review: The Furnace by Timothy S. JohnstonInterview with Timothy S. Johnston, author of The Furnace and Giveaway - December 23, 2013

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