Blog Tour & Author Interview: B.C. Johnson ("Deadgirl")
Welcome to the Deadgirl Blog Tour!
Meet Lucy Day
Some of you may know it by know: I only spotlights books on my blog (by cover reveals, blog tours, you name it) if I really like them. I don't see the point in selling you stuff I don't believe in, or I haven't even read yet. And I only interview authors if I'm familiar with them. Having an awesome book out is also a bonus ;). I have known B.C. Johnson for a year and a half (as in, talked with him on Goodreads now and then. I'm not saying we are close friends or anything. And no, he never bribed me into saying wonders of his book. Not that I remember, but you know, my memory lately...). I seeked him out after reading Deadgirl when it first came out (if you want to read the story of how Deadgirl was resurrected after the original publishers liquidated their business, go here...it's gripping, a bit heartbreaking, but inspirational and energetic too). Deadgirl is still one of my favourite YA books to date, and Lucy one of my favourite heroines. After all this time, I'm proud to be part of the Deadgirl 2.0 blog tour, and to have the chance to grill B.C. Johnson with my questions ask B.C. Johnson some stuff from the top of my head. (Yeah, right. I only spent two weeks racking my brain for the perfect questions). But before I move on to the author, let's get to know his book a little better...
Title:Deadgirl Series:TBA Author:B.C. Johnson Genres:Afterlife, Paranormal Romance, UF Year:2014 (first published 2012) Age:14+ Available on:Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle Deadgirl on Amazon |on Goodreads Read my original reviewhere
Blurb:Dead is such a strong word...
Lucy Day, 15 years old, is murdered on her very first date. Not one to take that kind of thing lying down, she awakens a day later with a seemingly human body and more than a little confusion. Lucy tries to return to her normal life, but the afterlife keeps getting in the way.
Zack, her crush-maybe-boyfriend, isn't exactly excited that she ditched him on their first date. Oh, and Abraham, Lucy’s personal Grim Reaper, begins hunting her, dead-set on righting the error that dropped her back into the spongy flesh of a living girl. Lucy must put her mangled life back together, escape re-death, and learn to control her burgeoning powers while staying one step ahead of Abraham.
But when she learns the devastating price of coming back from the dead, Lucy is forced to make the hardest decision of her re-life — can she really sacrifice her loved ones to stay out of the grave? (Goodreads)
Interview:Hi Bobby, it’s a real treat to feature you on my blog today. Deadgirl is one of favourite YA novels, and besides, I love your sense of humour - so I’m glad to give both a spotlight. OK, so, for those who are not familiar with your work or your personality yet – how come you took the plunge into the deadly sea of writing, particularly its YA current?
I took the plunge because I had to - it’s all I was ever built for. I’ve been wanting to be a writer since I could put words together. It’s not even in my blood, it’s in my bones. It IS my bones. I mean, I’m no biologist so I don’t know if that’s medically accurate or not, but it feels that way. As for YA, well, my beta reader, who also happens to be my wife, had read my first unpublished epic fantasy novel, and she told me that I wrote like a YA writer. She asked me if I knew that, and the fact was, I didn’t. I mean, I liked writing about young people, and I’m from the Stephen King school of “keep it simple, stupid” when it comes to language, but I never knew. Deadgirl was my first real crack at the genre, and it’s been my favorite thing I ever wrote. [...]
You’re only recently become a full-time author, whereas you wrote Deadgirl back when you still had to balance your artistic call with your “serious” (and life-sustaining) jobs. Nevertheless, you were able to write and publish your first novel (and a good piece of work at that) under such unfavorable conditions. Was it hard to juggle the two things? How long did it take to write the book?
Well, I actually do still work - I do part-time IT for a school district, and I do copywriting on the side. I’ve always written while having a dayjob, and honestly, it’s difficult. I’ve written four full manuscripts in that condition, and it feels like you imagine - two jobs, constantly tugging for your attention and your mental juice. At the end of some days I honestly don’t want to write - I want to stare at the TV or a book or a video game until my eyes dry out. But, that’s why writing is work. You do it even when you don’t want to, even when you’re tired. It’s rewarding and fantastic, but it’s work. As for length of time, I first started Deadgirl during National Novel Writing Month, November of 2008. I finished it, all drafts, late 2009. The rest of the time has been getting an agent, getting a publisher, getting a SECOND publisher, the whole thing. It’s not a quick business by any stretch. Imagine working for a year on something that people might see, three years from now. No wonder writers are all nuts.
You called Deadgirl “my YA love letter to Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Would you care to elaborate?
I was 11, I think, when Buffy the Vampire Slayer came out, and it kind of acted as my transition into junior high and high school. It just worked, from tophat to tails. It’s a brilliant piece of TV writing, and you can see how much it’s affected the landscape of genre television - Buffy begat Smallville, which begat all of the superhero TV shows like Flash and Arrow on the air right now. It’s crazy how influential that show was. It’s always been possibly my favorite TV show. The characters are brilliant and flawed and self-aware, smartasses all, and they deal with the supernatural on a daily basis and it never gets them down in the long run. When I decided to write YA, Buffy was absolutely my model. Deadgirl owes a lot to Buffy - Lucy is basically Xander and Buffy rolled up into one character.
In a market saturated with all kinds of afterlife/undeath scenarios, how were you able to come up with such a fresh spin on the genre?
First off, thanks for saying that, you rock! I love vampires and werewolves as much (or more than) the next person, but when I read I want to feel wonder. I want to not know what’s around the corner. Vampires are cool, but as soon as you see fangs and blood you reach into your mind and open that closet door, which is filled with stakes and garlic and eternal doomed love. You have a process for dealing with vampires, you have a cubby hole in your mind that fits a certain shape. With Deadgirl, I wanted to add to the genre rather than just reiterate what came before. I wanted the reader to have no way of knowing what to think, of being right in Lucy’s shoes as she tries to figure out not only what happened to her, but what will happen to her.
I loved Deadgirl, and I’m not a teen anymore by any means. But I seem to be in good company, since lots of adults wrote favourable or even glowing reviews about it. Of course, many adults enjoy YA nowadays, but this doesn’t mean that every book qualifies. What do you think are Deadgirl’s strong points in such regards?
Well, I think adults like YA for the same reason people in high school do - it focuses on character over plot. It’s all about a journey - the character starts here, and ends there, and they’ve changed for better or worse. It’s really everything we want when we read a story, just concentrated to the good bits. I think Deadgirl works for a lot of age groups because it focuses on Lucy Day. Here’s Lucy, strengths and flaws, let’s put her through the ringer. Connecting with the character is job one, everything else is secondary, and I hope that’s what I achieved.
Writing teens is not easy, I think – especially of the opposite sex. Some books seem to deal with the issue by incorporating their supposed quirks into the plot here and there, and throwing in some pop culture references for good measure…but readers often lament a lack of authenticity, or a certain stiffness at best. Which is not your case - one of the things that stand off when reading Deadgirl is that your heroine Lucy has this authentic, realistic voice. Granted, she feels very real for a semi-ghost ;D. How were you able to get in the mindframe of a 15 year old girl?
Well I do tend to overdo it with the pop culture references, so I may have to pull back in the future. Ha. I did the unthinkable to get into the mindset of a 15-year-old girl - I spent weeks reading the diary of a 15-year-old girl. Wait! Before you call the FBI: they were my wife’s diaries. I mean, my wife isn’t 15. Oh man I’m gonna end up on a list now, aren’t I? My wife is my age (really), but she lent me her highschool diaries like a damn fine lady. When I asked her, I honestly didn’t think she’d go through with it. She did some cautious editing (I was only allowed to look at pages without Post-It notes on them), but man was she helpful. Her highschool voice, combined with mine, and peppered with Xander/Buffy is really the source of Lucy’s power. I guess the real answer is the simple one: teens are people. Same emotions, they’re just more likely to bottle up the ones they should share and share the ones they should bottle up. But that’s what makes them so awesome!
*(Here comes the weird question…)* Do you and Lucy always get along? God no. We like each other because we’re both snarkers, but I know she’s not happy with what I’ve done to her. I mean, come on. I murdered her in the prologue. That’s just mean. I think sometimes Lucy doesn’t want to do what I want her to do. I’ve had scenes planned out in my head that didn’t survive first contact with Lucy. She’s unpredictable, and it makes it hard to plan stories around her. There’s a big moment at the end of the sequel in particular where Lucy lit my outline on fire and started laughing. I’m occasionally mad at her because she’s always talking in my head, even when I’m working on other manuscripts. She constantly wants me to tell her story. The upside is that she’s the character (and the manuscripts) I find easiest to write for that very reason. Which is why I’ll be doing at least four books of this series, just because she’s such a loudmouth.
One last question…or better, the chance for you to “sell” Deadgirl to a potential new reader. Let’s say you meet someone who isn’t an aficionado of afterlife/undeath books, or urban fantasy books, so she/he needs a little push in order to get interested in your novel. What would you say to that person?
Lucy. Lucy Lucy Lucy. Do you like laughing, crying, feeling scared and excited? A main character who is tough and strong but far from perfect? Lucy makes the worst mistakes, she has a temper, sometimes she’s selfish. She’s also loyal, and when she loves someone she doesn’t spare any of her heart. Genre aside, I think that’s the reason to read a book. That’s why I write them, anyway, to feel all that stuff and sit in a bathrobe all day. Especially the second part.
Thank you Bobby for being my guest. It was a real pleasure to chat with you, and hopefully help you connect with new potential fans. And…everyone stay tuned with Mr. B.C. Johnson, because Deadgirl will strike again next year…a sequel is already in the making!
And here's the link to the complete blog tour schedule...check it out, will ya? :) Lots of Deadgirl awesomeness...
About B.C. Johnson:
Born in Southern California, B.C. Johnson has been writing since he realized it was one of the few socially acceptable ways to tell people a bunch of stuff you just made up off the top of your head. He attended Savanna High School in Anaheim, and an undisclosed amount of college before deciding that weird odd jobs were a far greater career path.
This lead him to such exciting professions as: aluminum recovery machinist, lighting designer, construction demo, sound mixer, receptionist, theater stage hand, wedding security, high school custodian, museum events manager, webmaster, IT guy, copywriter, and one memorable night as the bouncer at a nightclub. He is trying very hard to add “vampire hunter” and “spaceship captain” to that list.
He currently lives in Garden Grove with his supernal wife Gina, his half-corgi, half-muppet dog Luna, and his new half-grayhound, half-living-tornado-of-destruction Kaylee. He also spends time with his two brothers, his parents, and his close friends, whose primary pursuit are usually healthy debates about movie minutiea. When he’s not working or writing, he’s been to known to pursue all conceivable geeky avenues of interest including but not limited to video games, the sort of TV shows/movies Benedict Cumberbatch might star in, graphic novels, podcasts, funny gifs, the whole thing.
He’s also been known to apply his special brand of hyperbole and mania to pop-culture humor essays for various websites that can be found on his homepage, bc-johnson.com. B.C. also has a high school noir short story called The Lancer available on Kindle. Deadgirl is his first novel.