Midtown Bloggerinos! Raph here, with a special interview. I’ve been at Midtown for 4 and a half years, and I spent a great deal of that time with the man I interviewed. Hal Johnson is an institution here at Midtown Comics, and we’re all happy and proud that he has released his first book, Immortal Lycanthropes. Here is a short interview with him, enjoy!

1) So, when did the writing bug bite you and leave it’s infectious goo behind in your bloodstream?

HAL JOHNSON: I spent a lot of my childhood trying to write comics, either with art by me or by my friend Chris (famous for designing the Midtown logo); but frankly comics are too hard, and drawing is too slow. So I gave up. It was only years later, after reading the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, that I entered some sort of fugue state and began writing nonstop. Most of what I produced at the time has mercifully never been seen by human eyes, but I kept at it. Eventually I threw enough words at enough editors that I lucked into a book contract.

2) What drew you to lycanthropy? Are you, or is someone you know, a lycanthrope?

HJ: It’s not that I like lycanthropes so much; I really just like animals. I probably like animals better than people, not because I’m a stupid hippie and think animals are more virtuous than people — they’re not, they’re rotten. But they have better taste. They are never crass, vulgar, or obnoxious. They never wear plaid pants or forward chain letters. As Bertrand Russell once said, “No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor but honest.” The only problem is that writing a book about animals can get boring because there are no car chases or puns. So this was my best-of-both worlds scenario. Rotten, tasteful people, driving cars and biting each other. That sounds like a book I’d like to read.

3) What was your writing process like?

HJ: Well, I knew the basic story going in, and first I broke it down into chapters. Then, for each chapter, I’d do all my brainstorming at the Midtown register. I kept an old flier next to me, and all day long, when I had an idea I thought would fit in the chapter, I’d jot it down between customers. After a couple of days I had a bunch of ideas I just needed to organize and write up. When I was done with that chapter I’d start register-brainstorming again. I would like to think I did it so stealthily that no one noticed.

4) What can readers expect from the book?

HJ: I threw everything I had into this one. It’s really an adventure novel with plenty of fights and hairsbreadth escapes. There are secret societies, manimals fighting to the death, riddling contests, one dozen awesome illustrations, criminal mischief, nihilistic despair, and ancient secrets from the dawn of time. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t get all that stuff in a book, you should ask for your money back.

The marketing department decided it was good for ages twelve and up; I don’t even know how they measure that. I’d give it to an eleven year old, but I’m pretty irresponsible.

I’d like to say that readers can expect the most amazing reading experience they’ve ever had, but there’s a chance they’ve already read King Solomon’s Mines, in which case it wouldn’t be true.

5) What is in the future for Hal Johnson, celebrated author?

HJ: If I had any ability to predict how my own stupid life would go, I would’ve had a very different one. Isn’t that why people write books, so they can have something in front of them where they know what’s going to happen? In general, though, I’m working on a new book, one with fewer (but not zero) secret societies and hairsbreadth escapes. Also I’ll probably have pizza for dinner.

I hope my future involves jetpacks, but I’m not holding my breath.

That’s it for this time, be sure to check out Immortal Lycanthropes! Hal has done a great job and I hope there’s another one in the works! Until next time–


– Raph

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