John B. Rosenman
The Gift, fiction, September 1, 2009
There's No Place Like Home: Exile in The Wizard of Oz, nonfiction, June 1, 2010
Birthdate? April 16, 1941
When did you start writing? As a little kid I would make up stories and write them down, sometimes as cartoon strips. I used to lie in the dark and listen to radio programs. The Shadow. Lights Out. They sparked my imagination. My father would also tell me bedtime stories.
When and what and where did you first get published? My first published short story was “The Patriot.” It was published in Patterns, Hiram College’s literary magazine, in Fall 1961.
Why do you write? I can’t help it. It’s what I do. I have ideas, sometimes exciting ones, and I must write them down. If I’m not writing something, I tend to be unhappy. I like to see how fully I can capture my visions, whether I can explore them further and find something I did not know or suspect when they first came to me.
Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy? Similar to my previous answer, I can’t help it. It’s what I do. Most of my science-fiction/science-fantasy novels involve the same basic plot: A person travels to a distant world and amazing things happen to him. I grew up during the Golden Age of Science Fiction that focused on the awesome, mind-stretching wonders of the universe. The books and stories I read, the movies I saw, obviously left a lasting impact on me. Of course, they could only have done so if my mind contained fertile soil for such an influence. I love ideas and concepts, sometimes the stranger the better. It’s an addiction without a cure.
Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story? There are so many; it’s hard to pin it down to one. One of my favorites is “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. I read it when it came out and thought, “Wow, this should win the Hugo Award.” I was prophetic and it did. Later, I invited Octavia Butler to come to Norfolk State University where I’m an English professor, and she did. I drove Octavia Butler around and asked her questions about that story. What a thrill and what an honor. Another story I love is The Wizard of Oz, especially the movie. Some of my stories and poems owe a direct debt to Baum’s story. One of my novels was titled DOWN FROM OZ. It was published – and will be republished – by McPherson & Co. under a different title: THE BEST LAUGH LAST. One of the novels I’m completing now is called DARK WIZARD and is inspired in many ways by the story.
What are you trying to say with your fiction? That I have a fertile, sometimes outlandish and inexhaustible imagination. I think the ImagiNATION is the greatest country or realm there is. I also like to speculate about the fascinating characters, both human and alien, that exist in my mind or in the universe, and their rich and endless complexities. My fiction also reflects some of my recurring themes and obsessions: TRANSFORMATION, for example, is something that fascinates me. Sometimes it’s physical; sometimes it’s psychological. Sometimes it’s both and more. A character grows a chrysalis and disappears inside it. What transcendent transformation will she undergo, what cosmic sea change? In recent years, I’ve written about cosmic Christs and Redeemers, Messiahs who even reject such a role and resist their destiny.
Another thing I try to say or do in my fiction involves style. I love to experiment with phrasing and language, and with the WAY in which I present a story. I’m convinced that there are nine trillion ways to tell a story or novel, but only one of those ways is the absolute best. I try to find it.
Do you blog? Where? Yes, on my website, at www.johnrosenman.com. I also write a monthly blog on writing (late on the thirteenth of every month) at www.storytellersunplugged.com/
If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say? Here lies John B. Rosenman. He was a good but flawed person who loved his wife and children and loved to teach. He tried to do the right thing but sometimes failed. He also wrote some damned good stories, and hopes he lives in them whenever you, dear reader, turns their pages.
John is an English professor at Norfolk State University where he designed and
teaches a course in how to write Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is a former
Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and has published over
300 stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber's Aliens, Fangoria,
The Age of Wonders, and Hot Blood. John has published ten books, including SF
action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), A Senseless Act of Beauty (Blade Publishing), Alien Dreams (Drollerie Press), Dax Rigby, War Correspondent (Lyrical Press), and Here Be Dragons (Eternal Press). Visit him on the web at his website, www.johnrosenman.com, at http://home.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user,
https://twitter.com/Writerman1, http://www.facebook.com/home.php, and http://s631.photobucket.com/albums/uu31/jrosenman/. One of his interviews can
be found at http://www.milscifi.com/files/inter-JBR-BS.htm.