Interview with Author Tom Johnson

My guest today is Tom Johnson.  Hello!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
PANGAEA: EDEN’S PLANET was written several years ago, and has gone through a couple printings with different publishers. It is currently with FIRST REALM Publishing, where it was contracted two years ago. The story is science fiction with elements of time travel, survival, and a light touch of romance. Our world has been left devastated by nuclear war, and NASA sends a rocket ship manned by seven scientists to terra-form Mars, which may be mankind’s only chance of survival. However, an anomaly in space damages their ship and sends them falling back to Earth, where they discover an alien planet to the one they had just left. When I first wrote the story, Colonel Peterson was black and Major Cooper white, making it an interracial romance, but by the time it was in print we had dropped all reference to her race, feeling race should have no stumbling blocks to romance. Instead, Colonel Peterson is dedicated to the mission, and now has the burden of keeping her people alive in a harsh and deadly environment. She doesn’t want to fall in love, but slowly she and her second in command are becoming more attracted to each other.

Wow! It sounds great! 

Is there anything that prompted Pangaea? Something that inspired you?
Science fiction has always inspired me. I think PANGAEA: EDEN’S PLANET owes a lot to PLANET OF THE APES, ROCKETSHIP XM, and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. In APES we have a rocket ship travel forward in time, while PANGAEA goes backward in time, both resulting in drastic consequences. XM was an expedition to the Moon, but went off course and landed on Mars. In PANGAEA, a rocket ship heading for Mars is also knocked off course, and lands somewhere else. And, like TWILIGHT ZONE, PANGAEA has a paradox at the end.
All right.

So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

Actually, I began to experiment with writing in the early ‘60s while stationed with the Army in France. I was a military police supervisor. As a desk sergeant, when we were on lonely night shifts and my units were on patrol, I would create plots and characters, and put them in through action scenes. One of the plots I created at the time was JUR: A STORY OF PRE-DAWN EARTH, but it wasn’t until after a tour in the jungles of Vietnam in 1970 that I actually wrote the first novels in that series. Unfortunately, they didn’t go anywhere for many years. I guess you could say that life interfered, which it has a way of doing. I was always serious about writing, but it was necessary to set that aside while I earned a living. My first published novel was a nonfiction book released in 1980, plus I was writing newspaper and magazine articles throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, as well. A stroke in 2002 made the decision for me. The first two JUR novels were picked up that year by NBI, and I wrote the third novel the following year (also for NBI). Writing now was to keep my mind active, and I settled down to what I had wanted to do all my life.
Interesting! I love to hear about an author's journey!
Do you have any favorite authors yourself, Tom?
There are so many. The early years would have to be George O. Smith, Isaac Asimov, A. E. Van Vogt, Robert A. Heinlein, and P. K. Dick. But I loved the classics like CALL OF THE WILD, WHITE FANG, HEIDI, and those authors, too. Today, I would add K. G. McAbee, Camy Tang, John Cater, Barry Lancet, Amy DuBoff, and … well, I could go on. There are so many new authors that I love reading, and it’s hard to pin any of them down.
I know what you mean! :)
Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?
I have a computer in my bedroom, where I can disappear all day, if I like, and just write stories. I find it easier to write when I’m alone, and not distracted by anything. I usually write during the morning, however, and read in the afternoon. When I am working on a story, I want to write at least 1K words in a sitting, but sometimes I get more, and sometimes less. I love it when the inspiration is with me, and words flow to the page.
Oh, me too! That moment is amazing, isn't it?
So, are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?
Read. And know the subject you are writing. If it’s a subject you’re not familiar with, do your research. I have always believed that a writer is a master of words, and profanity disappoints me. It tells me the author’s vocabulary is limited to four letter words that begin with an “f”. So use your mind to find words to tell your story. A story must have a beginning, middle, and end, with good plots, and characters that come alive. Entertain me, and make me want to read your next book.
Great advice! Thank you for offering those words of wisdom. 

And thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age.  It was so nice having you!  :)

Readers, here is the blurb for Pangaea: Eden's Planet.
Seven astronauts en route to Mars encounter a time warp in space that disables their ship. Crash landing on Earth, they discover an alien planet sixty million years before the dinosaurs. Pangaea, the super continent, is filled with danger and terror, as they must survive against fierce reptiles that ruled the Earth 250 million years in the past!
Here is an excerpt.
“God – God? Enough about your God, Manning!” Colonel Peterson ordered. “What God would strand us here, in a primitive land, away from civilization? Wreck our ship, and injure our friends?
“I don’t want to hear any more about this so-called God of yours! And get rid of that stupid sign before anyone else sees it!”
“Let’s get some fresh air, Evelyn,” Major Cooper suggested, taking the colonel by the arm and leading her gently from the bio-dome. Looking back over his shoulder, he winked at Roger Manning and Sheri Thompson.
Once they were outside, the colonel regained her composure as she took several deep breaths. Looking at her second-in-command, she smiled briefly and asked,” Did I lose it back there, Major?”
“Just a tad,” he grinned. “But nothing damaged, I don’t believe. Let Manning have his Garden of Eden – and his God, if he wants them, Colonel. Maybe it will help keep him sane. I think that we’ll each need our special little distractions before it’s all over with.”
“Before what’s all over, Major?” she asked. “Before we’re all dead?”
“A slip of the tongue, Colonel,” he shrugged. “But, perhaps a Fraudulent slip at that!” he admitted.
“We are lost in a prehistoric land, with no chance of ever returning to our homes, and we’re likely to die a horrible death if we aren’t careful. But if we keep our heads about us, and watch our step, we just might grow into old colonels and majors in time. The sooner we face those truths, the better we will be able to deal with the situation, and accept our fate.”
“In other words, there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said, staring into his eyes.
“We can live,” he said, as his arms reached out for her. “And love.”
Suddenly, a voice called to them from the Galileo Two: “Colonel Peterson, you’d better come here,” Doctor Terril called.
The moment was broken, and they turned and rushed for the ship, fearing the worst.
Purchase Links:

Wow! This book sounds interesting! 
Author Bio 
Tom Johnson’s dad was a cowboy and cook, giving his family an itinerant lifestyle. He changed schools often, as his dad’s jobs were relocated. His dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but a cowboy’s life didn’t appeal to him. Instead, during his high school years, Tom dreamed about becoming an entomologist. He loved biology and math, but was weak in other subjects. He read every book he could find on insects, reptiles, and arachnids, as well as paleontology. However, his life changed when he joined the Army and spent a 20-year career in law enforcement. Afterwards, he and his wife started the publishing imprint of FADING SHADOWS, and published a hobby magazine for 22 years, and several genre titles for nine years. He was a voracious reader from an early age, and has never stopped reading for pleasure, though his interest in genres has often switched from SF to western, to hard-boiled detectives, the classics, and back to science fiction again over the years. In his own writing readers will often find something about his love of zoology, whether insects, reptiles, or saber-tooth cats. Now retired, they devote their time to keeping Tom’s books in print, as well as helping promote other writers.

Author Links:

Tom's Books:


  1. Wow, what a career and so many books. I hope I can get one published and be well reviewed. When I first touched base with you on twitter and you replied, I did not realize what a pro I had encountered. I am reading one of yours now and look forward to many more fun reads. Great interview, I also like to hear the writing process and the logistics as well.

  2. Excellent interview, folks. Thanks for sharing that info with us.

  3. Wow, how lucky you are, Marie, to have an interview with the amazing Tom Johnson! This man has been a mentor to so many writers--and I should know. :-) Great writer and even better friend! He's amazing!

  4. Hey, folks, y'all pull the strings of my heart. I appreciate all the kind words. An author lives for such praise, even if we aren't worthy. I owe more to all of you than you'll ever realize. Again, thanks so much.

  5. Hello everyone! I enjoyed reading the interview and I have also read Pangea: Eden's Planet, which I enjoyed very much. Tom writes in a way that draws you into the story and makes you feel like you are there. I have always enjoyed reading his stories. I too am addicted to reading.
    I want to add something about Tom Johnson ( Uncle Tommy to me ). He was always interested in all kinds of creatures. I saw him bring home spiders, snakes and even baby owls once. Seems like he was always into something. I'm not surprised at his interest in the things he writes about. I agree with K.G. McAbee, Tommy is an amazing writer.

  6. Wow, thanks Debra. I knew you would remember the owls (LOL). Gee, with all these nice comments, I feel I need to send checks out to everyone (G).

  7. Not only is Tom a great humanitarian, writer and storyteller (I also have read Pangaea, then reviewed it with five stars on Amazon), he is an Army Veteran who served our country during Vietnam (Thank you for your service) and remains a model for all writers. In between writing his classic books, he stops to help other authors, and readers, by mentoring them and posting reviews in selfless ways. I know of no other writer who's ever does that. Besides all that I find he's quite an interesting and kind fellow. Proud to be his friend

    1. Wow, John. The check is in the mail, Buddy. lol. You folks are going to give me a big head. Grin.

  8. Great interview, allowing readers to become familiar with the author who is a prolific writer. I, too, grew up cutting teeth on science fiction books/movies which propelled me into a career of astronomy and managing NASA missions to Mars before landing in the ‘real world’ of mysteries and detectives. The eye-catching, pulp fiction covers are intriguing and testify to an amazing body of work. Congratulations.

  9. Thanks, Thomas. Like many writers, you have an interesting background, which I'm sure brought you to where you are now. How many of us looked up at the stars as children and said, I want to go there? Though most of us would never go to space, at least you helped some get there, even if it was through visual means. As writers, all of us have that wanderlust. Without it, where would our imagination come from?

    1. Very true, Tom. So glad we could have you on the blog!

  10. Excellent, Tom. Your writing is wonderful; I've read a number of your books and I want to read some more of them. You are a great writer and have a very impressive education.

  11. Thanks, Neal. As you know, if education and imagination are combined we can dream of wonders and achieve whatever we seek. But one without the other makes the road a difficult journey. Your own journey has been filled with both success and adventure. I've also read your books, remember.

  12. Tom -- you are amazing! I have read several of your books. The range and number of your works boggles my mind. Thanks for sending me the link!

    Semper Fi,


  13. Thank you, James. Semper Fi, my friend.

  14. With so many published titles, I am thrilled that you have also recently contributed several stories for the Wire Dog children's series. What a talented and versatile author, able to work in multiple genres and for audiences of various ages. Thanks Tom and congratulations.

  15. Thank you, David. I love writing the Wire Dog stories for children, and so glad that I can contribute.

  16. I enjoyed the interview with Tom Johnson. I bought that first "professional" book of his, reviewing the old Secret Agent X pulp, way back in 1980, and have followed him since then with ECHOES and the various Fading Shadows publications. I'm more familiar with his pulp hero stories than with his science fiction, but this book sounds quite interesting.

  17. Thanks for dropping by, Steve. It's hard to believe that was 35 years ago.

  18. Wow, you don't often find a novel set in the Triassic period. (Most people can't resist the pull of the dinosaurs.) Thanks for the interesting interview and (sigh) another book to add to the to-be-read pile. Looking forward to it!

  19. Thanks, Darci. We do tend to forget that there was life before the dinosaurs (LOL). Thanks for dropping by.

  20. Enjoyed the interview, Tom. Intriguing that you have such an interest in entomology.

  21. Thanks for stopping by, Tom. Yes, entomology was always my best subject. I still keep a "bug garden" as my neighbor calls it. Fenced in so the weeds can grow and attract insects. Some people just don't understand me (LOL).

  22. Thank you for the shout out, Tom! We share a love of many of the same classics. It was great to hear more about your journey as a writer. Here's to telling many more incredible stories!

  23. Thanks for stopping by Amy. Your books are a treat, and I always look forward to the next one.

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