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Write On Ottawa: Local writer debuts new fantasy series

By Alejandro Bustos on August 12, 2014

Johnny Eaton has lived an interesting life.  When not writing fantasy, the Ottawa-native spends his summers working as a tree planting boss, while in the colder months you can find him acting and making music.  Although he’s on the road quite a bit, he still spends parts of each year in Ottawa, as well as across the river in Chelsea, Quebec.

Apartment613 caught up with the multitalented Eaton to discuss Summons, his debut novel that is Part One of the fantasy series The Panachrest.  Below is a Q&A slightly edited for length and style.

Apartment613:  As a science fiction and fantasy fan I found your novel very interesting. How did you come up with this story idea?

Johnny Eaton:  Back in 2004, I had a grand notion of writing an epic fantasy that would pay homage to the fantastic creatures dreamed up by different cultures over the ages.  I started some heavy research, compiling notes and info on thousands of creatures and humanoid races.  It wasn’t until March of 2010 that I had an idea to build off of, though.

One night, sitting in a bar in Peterborough, Ontario, listening to some African-based music, a fragment of a story came to me.  That fragment exists as Orran’s inner monologue during the introduction to his character early in the first part.  I got so excited by it that I kept on going, building on its foundation.

bookfApt613: This is the first book in a series.  How many books are you planning on writing in total?  As well, did you have the complete story mapped out, or will you “discover” the narrative as you finish each book?

JE: I know this is awful to say to readers – and believe me, it’s terrifying for me as well – but I don’t know how many books this series will finish at.  This doesn’t mean I don’t know where the story is going.  I actually know the end of the series already, but as Tolkein once reminisced, some tales grow in the telling, and I don’t plan out the small stuff.  I tend to sit down and write with a very loose plan for a chapter, and then let all the characters come in and change all the furniture and generally make a mess of the place and be at peace with that.

Apt613: Fantasy is a rich genre filled with many great authors.  What would you tell a fantasy fan who is interested in picking up your book, but is not sure whether to read you or another author?

JE: Ha ha.  My ego isn’t big enough for this question, but I would say read both.  Thinking of reading Gaiman because he’s got a sense of humour and irreverent characters? Read my book too –  it has those elements.  Prefer the sexiness of Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel series?  You might be titillated by some scenes in Summons. Give it a read.

Into D&D adventures, classic quests a la Quioxte?  Throw my book in the pile –  it could me called a misadventure as much as an adventure.  Finally, give new authors a chance. You discovered your favourites somehow, right?  Discovery is a good thing, a wonderful thing.  Embrace it.

Apt613: When will the next book be published?  When do you expect to complete the entire series?

JE:  The next book . . . either next year or the year after.  My goal is to get it written this winter.  As for the series, it’ll be done when it’s done.  I can’t see too many people complaining if they’re enjoying the stories and get more of them.  I know things have to end eventually, and I really don’t want to end up in the danger zone of getting elderly with an unfinished series on the shelf, so I will do my best to wrap things up nicely before I croak.

Apt613: As a final question, are you working on any other literary projects?

Johnny Eaton

Johnny Eaton

JE: Yeah, this ties into my answer to the next book question.  I’ve got another world in my head.  Two worlds, actually.  A two-planet scenario, sci-fi meets fantasy meets literary fiction.  To be honest it’s exciting me more right now, and I’m debating getting going with it while it’s hot in my mind, delaying The Panachrest a bit.

It’s a tough call, though.  I’ve had some amusing conversations on writers’ boards about the “mistress” idea and the “spouse” idea, with the spouse being the current work that you’ve grown more familiar with but not as excited by as you were at first, and the mistress being the new idea that causes hunger and desire.

As with relationships, I clearly need to learn the fine of art of being dedicated.  Thankfully, though, writers aren’t married to one book.  Imagine how depressed Stephen King would be if he could only write sequels to Carrie… {shudder} I’ll leave you with that.