F.F. John Author Interview
by Kathryn Bax
F.F. John is an American writer of dystopian science fiction fantasy with a dollop of romance and action.
You write under the name F.F. John, but who is the real Funmi John?
I’m a girl who calls several countries home, having lived in the USA (the Washington, DC region is still my base) and a couple of countries in Africa and the Caribbean. At the moment, I live with my family on a very small island in a house overlooking the sea. We grow lots of fruit, vegetables and even have close to seventy chickens to wake us up in the mornings.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we would find surprising.
For someone who lives in and enjoys the tropics, I hate bugs. Bugs of all kinds irritate me. I’ve never met a bug I like and I don’t think I ever will.
How important is your writing to you and who has been your biggest influencer?
I wake up thinking about writing. I go to sleep thinking about writing and the time in between that is spent writing, or promoting my writing. Sometimes, I don’t think it’s very healthy but I like to think that if I put in the hard work now, I’ll get to relax soon.
What is your main goal as a writer and do you treat your work as a business?
My main goal is to spend the rest of my life creating stories that entertain my readers. I also hope someday my children’s children will read the words I wrote and be proud of me.
You do a lot of analysing of films. You look at and comment about the plots, the characters, what worked, what didn’t. You clearly do this to improve your own writing. Tell us what started you on this path and how it has impacted on your writing.
Ah, I didn’t think anyone noticed. *smile* I’ve always loved watching television and as a kid I watched everything I could get my hands on. Bollywood films, Nollywood movies, Hollywood flicks, Anime classics – you name it, I’d watch it. There’s something about a story playing out visually that I find captivating. A character’s facial reaction to bad news. The murderer hiding her hand while others spin around without a clue. Watching how filmmakers unravel their story via the scenes and the players in the plot has been instrumental in how I create my stories and my characters. I’m extremely visual in that way.
You also do a lot of research on what makes a best seller. Tell us about your search for the perfect covers and other evaluations you have done in order to reach your goal of selling lots of books.
I spent more time than I’ll admit perusing covers at the various book cover design websites, looking at covers in full size and thumbnail on Amazon’s bestseller lists, and everywhere else I could. I found TheBookDesigner.com website to be crucial and till this day, continue to study covers listed in his monthly awards. It was a lot of work, but I was going for covers that evoked The Selection series but conveyed a darkness that is reflected on the covers of dystopian novels. I’ll confess, I’m not certain I’ve achieved the perfect covers for my series, but I know my designers and I created well-branded covers that stand out and help to attract potential readers.
As an extension to question 6, what has worked well for you and what has bombed?
Using social media to put my books before readers has been very helpful. That combined with the kindness of absolute strangers has enabled me to reach readers who take the time to write to me about my stories. It’s the most exciting thing ever to chat with readers when they’re reading my book. I get to share in the moment they make a realization or two. As to what has bombed, gosh, we don’t have enough time in the day to tackle that one. Still, I can say Facebook advertising never worked for me and I abandoned that tactic quickly. I’ll try again in the future.
Tell us about your three adult dystopian novels to date. You have written The Proem, a short story and prequel to your series. Following that, you wrote The Pursual, Book 1 of the Nome Chronicles, and The Paladin, Book 2 of the same series to be released 8th August. How many more in the series and who is your favourite character?
I only recently realized how ambitious The Nome Chronicles project is. I’ve written quite a few short stories in the series and as right now, I plan to release The Premiere and The Pegasos. I will release one more full length novel, The Paragon, which I’m writing currently, to finish the series. As to a favorite character it seems sacrilegious to choose.It’s almost like choosing a favorite child. Still, I’ve had the most fun writing Neith – the female protagonist in The Nome Chronicles. She’s manipulative, mean and selfish. As the series progresses, we all get to see new parts to her and that has been fun. I see shades of Cersei Lannister and Claire Underwood in her, and who doesn’t like a big bad, female meanie who does what she wants to get what she needs?
What has been the biggest surprise for you in self-publishing?
The hours. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I didn’t realize the many intricate details that must be observed in order to produce quality work. Self-published authors don’t have a publishing house behind them with staff to take care of the minutiae. I have to look at every single thing related to my book. Every day or close to it. Monitor those keywords for Amazon ads. Keep track of book categories, prices and rankings across various retailers. Get my book and myself in front of people to build name recognition, brand recognition, and gain subscribers. Communicate with subscribers. Network with authors. Stay on top of new business developments and tools… The list is neverending. I consider myself a small business and see the work as a small price to pay for what I hope will be success in the long run. Luckily for me, there are enough self-published authors managing to earn a comfortable living and I figure I can do it too. It just won’t happen overnight.
What is next on the cards for you as an author?
A fellow author gave me some advice to not wait for tomorrow to step out of my comfort zone. As a result, I’ve started an urban fantasy paranormal that I’m enjoying immensely. I’m doing this while working on The Nome Chronicles and plotting for a new series I plan on beginning before the year ends. My book, The Paladin, Book 2 of The Nome Chronicles is currently on pre-order and my publishing business, Harcourt Briggs has taken on an author and plans to take on one more before 2017 comes to a close. It’s a busy time, but I believe in pushing myself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – hard work pays off.
The Proem: Book 0.5 of The Nome Chronicles
How much will she sacrifice for love?
Neith has never questioned her duty to marry according to status and wealth--until she falls in love, and the world turns on its head. Invier, lowborn but romantic, is willing to defy societal pressures and demand Neith's hand in marriage.
The Pursual: Book 1 of The Nome Chronicles
Neith and Invier are madly in love, yet destined for an unhappy ever after.
Given his family's low ranking, Neith revives a long-abandoned competition - the Pursual. The prize is the girl and an alliance with her influential family.
The Paladin: Book 2 of The Nome Chronicles
With half the world between them, can love still bring them together?
The difference in status between Neith and Invier prevents their marriage, and when Neith's schemes to overcome that obstacle backfire, she ends up putting her entire family at risk. It's no longer a game when all Neith's enemies combine against her.
The Paragon: Book 3 of The Nome Chronicles
When love turns to hate, is there a way back?
Since her father's death and the subsequent betrayal, Neith trusts no one. She has learned to be ruthless and will do whatever it takes to defeat anyone in her way. Having once loved Invier only adds to her determination to crush him.
LegionBorn: A LegionBorn Urban Fantasy Story
My name is Vaughn Prentiss and my whole life was a lie.
I'd had one goal--prove that an orphan from Baltimore could become the youngest partner at my law firm.
That all changed the day I started seeing monsters. Nobody else noticed these mami watas, zwarts and other demon spawn. With the help of a former witch, I discovered Lucifer was my uncle and that a prophecy foretold I'd bring about his downfall. Unless he killed me and took my soul.
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