by Panda Johnson

robertBorn in the East End of London during the late 1960’s, to a fairly typical London family of that period. Yes, within the sound of Bow Bells, so yes I am authentic Cockney, though now living in Cornwall it is not somewhere that I miss, after all who wouldn’t swap the traffic hewn streets for the cold wintered coast?
Age is not a kind companion, for 13 years (Since I was 35) I have suffered from Reiters Disease. This is a form of Arthritis, and for the last 5 to 6 years, from IBS as well.
I never let them get the better of me though; I have a dog, a Collie, Jess. She is the scattiest 7 year old dog I have ever seen and as loyal as you could wish for.
I am an avid record collector, though this is something that my dear wife would argue with… I am also an avid archer and air rifle enthusiast, plus I love my dirt/pit bike. Though, all of these are things that have to be done in moderation, pain allowing so to speak.

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1) When did you first discover your love for writing?

I remember writing my first story when I was very young, I had this great big red book that I kept everything in, lists of records I wanted, music I loved, pictures that I drew and stories that I wrote. It was awful, three pages long and no grammar at all. But then I was only about seven so I don’t put too much credence on that. I really got into writing about twelve years ago, I was working the late shift at a Royal Mail sorting depot and had lots of free time in the mornings. I could not afford a PC or Word Processor at the time so the entire story was written long hand in small notebooks purchased from my local WHSmith.

It was a hard, hard process and ultimately the book was never finished. The idea was good, solid but it lacked the grammar and detail that was needed. I put the notebooks away and forgot about them. A few years later in the middle of my divorce the notebooks resurfaced. After reading through them I knew it was no good and threw them all away. There was nothing new for a years, then in early 2014 I found myself once more with the time to indulge myself. I went back to College, did a refresher course on writing and grammar and started anew. Though this time the book was totally different and far better than anything I had ever attempted before. The love of writing has always been in me, but it’s only now that I have time and confidence to put my work out there for the world to see.

2) Do you have a favourite place to write?

I love to write sat in a café by the sea, though this is much harder than it sounds. Living in Cornwall the sea is never far away but there are not many café’s with a sea view, and the ones that are don’t much like you sitting there all day drinking their free refill coffee. It’s not so bad during the winter as there are not that many tourists, but during the summer the coast is flooded with people and it’s not an environment that is easy to relax and write in. So I tend to most of my writing sat in the armchair at home with my headphones on.

3) Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?

As I also work twenty-five hours a week it’s hard to have a routine, you what it’s like. You set a routine out, either on paper on in your head and then life happens and the whole routine goes to pot. But I try and write everyday, whether its on my book, my blogs or just ideas, I write. I think maybe that’s one reason I have not yet suffered from the dreaded writer’s block. It keeps my mind active and the ideas flowing.

4) Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?

I think a lot of people know who my favourite Authors are, if not then have a look at the website they are listed there (yes that’s a blatant plug!). In all seriousness Douglas Adams and James Herbert are two that I read as a teen and have stuck with me until their deaths and beyond. I know they are both different, but they produced work that spoke to me. If I can do that to just one person, then I am a very happy Author.

5) What inspired you to write The Monuments of Panda Johnson?

I knew I wanted to write, as you have already seen I have tried before, but this time I had a plan, the name of the mainPanda Johnson protagonist, don’t ask me where it came from. I was thinking of the names used by Adams in HHGTTG, I wanted it to be unique, memorable but not too unpronounceable. The surname came first, and then the first name, just literally popped into my head. I had the basics of the story in my head and once I had that, well I was off and running with it.

6) Can you tell us a little about your book?

That’s like asking someone to describe a Monty Python sketch in Dutch when they have never spoken a word of it. However, it is the first part of a trilogy involving six main protagonists. Panda being the main and lead character, they are opposed through their adventures and travels by a Dark Queen and her husband. There are lots of twists and turns, dozens of side characters not to mention sub plots. There are parts when even the Editor and staff get involved. If you want to know then you will have to read it.

7) Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?

I knew that you were going to ask that lol. I love Bambii due to her uniqueness, I also adore Lord Overworn because of his lacklustre nature and basic failure as an evil deity to be. But I cannot really separate them, all of the characters have the same level of adoration. After all I invented them and to show one more favouritism than the other would be rather unfair.
Now if you had asked do I have one that I don’t like then I would have immediately said Oareo the dog…

8) Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?

Only insomuch as life is short, never take it too seriously. Have fun, let your mind run free and see what worlds are inside your own mind, you will amazed at can happen.

9) Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?

Yes of course.

“That’s it; you all just run amuck why don’t you?” Oareo was letting his temper get the better of him. After all, this was his kitchen and he had rights!
“O.M.G,” screeched Dang like a small girl discovering dolls for the first time, “They have Mongolian Beach Duck, and it’s crispy too.” Dang looked as if he may pass out from sheer over excitement.
Misty watched him, her brow furrowed. “When I was still a Monk for Ohm, this food was on the banned list and if found even in possession of a menu with it on, you risked the act of Derision by Gul.”
Misty shook her head totally unimpressed, “I don’t think I’d be too bothered if a Gull was mocking me.” Her now loose glasses slipped a little more.
Dang sighed, muttering to himself, “And people wonder why I sleep so much?” Then in a louder voice, “Not Gull as in seagull you over chested woman, Gul single L, he was an 8’7″ Severn armed Demon from the 5th dimension, hardly a white and brown stain on your car windscreen.”

10) What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing The Monuments of Panda Johnson?

The writing part is simple, it’s everything else that is a challenge. When I first decided to be Independent I did foresee the complexity of the other aspects of the book. Editing is first and foremost. Plot and character consistency are the hardest and biggest challenges. After that comes cover design, promoting, setting up your own business. The list is endless.
I could have gone with time, I think a lot of Authors would have said that and as I have already mentioned it is hard at times to fit it all in. But when you have something to write you find the time, even if you’re falling asleep with your fingers on the keyboard at two am.

11) What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing The Monuments of Panda Johnson?

That I am capable, that I am better than I thought and that my work has a place. I feel that I have achieved something I never thought I would. I have learnt how to tell a story, a good story in my own unique way. Not only that but this is something I will not be giving up.

12) Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?

Do not give up, write the book. Leave it a month once you have finished, then go back and read it. If you have an Editor use them, listen to their advice. If you don’t make sure you work on that book over and over. There will always be things that you think could have been better, or you may want to change. But don’t change for changes sake.

13) Anything else you would like to say?

You mean other than but the book, it’s fantastic. No, not really.

14) And finally, do you have any future works planned?

Oh yes, I am currently around 40,000 words into book two, Panda Johnson and the Death of the Gods, book three will be here late 2017, Panda Johnson and the Child of a Thousand Mothers. After that, well I have a number of projects. One is a supernatural thriller, no comedy in that one I can assure you. The other is about a Victorian detective stuck in time and wakes up in 1979. Though that one still has a lot of planning to do. There are also at least eight other Panda Johnson related books in the pipeline so I think I will be busy for quite some time to come.

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Twitter.com/PandaJohnson14
https://www.facebook.com/ThePandaJohnson/
thePandaJohnson.co.uk
http://pandajohnsonsjournal.blogspot.co.uk/

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