Guest Post: Writing for Three by Anne E. Johnson

I had the good fortune to meet Anne at Headhouse Books in Philadelphia, where she gave a spectacular reading from Green Light Delivery back in May of this year.  She’s a fabulous and versatile writer, and I do mean versatile.  She writes short stories and novels for practically all age groups, including children, young people, and adults.  In this guest post, she shows us the fine art of keeping her trio of Webrid Chronicles main characters distinct.  ~~Mo

The Webrid Chronicles are about Webrid, obviously. But he can’t save the world alone. Part of my job as an author is to make sure the reader can distinguish Webrid from his fellow main characters, and to keep those distinctions consistent throughout each novel and the series as a whole.

These Three Musketeers in Space could not be less like each other. Most obviously, each of them has unique physical traits. Let’s say, they would never be mistaken for siblings (except for the way they argue). It’s equally important that these three characters be distinguishable by their speech mannerisms. As is true with every human I know, these aliens speak in a way defined by their upbringing and self-image.

Webrid is huge, bulky, and hairy, with claws and sharp teeth. He couldn’t care less what he’s wearing, and he doesn’t think or speak in complete sentences. He’s clumsy and often hungover, as we find him the morning after a night of partying in chapter 1:

From his vantage point on the floor, he could see his pants from yesterday, poking out from under an overturned chair. They were good as new once he shook the glass dust out of them. He had the claws of one foot caught in the first pant leg when someone knocked on his door.

“Crap,” he said to the universe. “Yeah, comin’!” he called to his visitor. He bumped his head on a wall lamp while hopping down the hallway. “Who is it?” The question was followed by a musical rrrrrip as his claws sliced through the cloth. “Aw, freakin’ hell.”

Stravin, Webrid’s drinking buddy, is slender and neat. He decorates his downy white feathers with expensive, fashionable clothes. He’s an engineering genius and clearly educated at the finest schools. Like Webrid, Stravin appreciates pleasure, but as a delicacy, not a smorgasbord:

“Come in, come in,” urged the slender, feather-coated man. He wagged a long, downy-white finger at the cart. “My dearest Webrid, I thought you’d forsworn this carting nonsense.” Before Webrid could reply, Stravin motioned into the foyer. “Ah, well. Just roll it into the front hallway. Nothing else to be done, I suppose, since I know you won’t leave it outside.” Quietly, but just loud enough for Webrid to hear, he added, “And this way my neighbors won’t see it.”

Once the cart was parked, Stravin dragged Webrid toward a velvet-covered ramp. “Burrow those giant cloppers into the sweet softness, my dear.”

“What?”

“Your feet, you brute. Into the footholds.”

Webrid didn’t see any footholds, but he stepped onto the ramp as he’d been ordered. The velvet swallowed his toes and heels. “Hey!”

“Don’t struggle so, darling. Think of it like sex. Just let it happen naturally.”

And then there’s Zatell. She and Stravin go way back. She has an illegal interplanetary rocket taxi service, and keeps her very own rocket in her back yard. (Never mind that she’s a truly awful pilot.) But the most remarkable thing about her is her shape. Zatell has about thirty little hand-feet encircling her round body-head. She walks by rolling or cartwheeling. And she talks like somebody whose defense mechanisms are always on full-blast:

“You stinky hoongofl!” she cried as she rolled toward the passenger side of Stravin’s car. “I haven’t seen you in ages. What sewer have you been hiding in? Is there even a sewer wide enough to hold your ugly butt?”

Talking to Zatell was like talking to the working girls at Joolo’s Skinny Dip Club. Webrid knew better than to be offended at the trash that spewed out of their mouths. Laughing warmly, he bent way down and gave Zatell’s puckered face a nuzzle. “Hey, sweetheart. Lookin’ good!”

As with all inseparable friends, these three sometimes need to be pulled apart before they blacken each other’s eyes. But they’d also lay down their lives for each other without a moment’s pause.

Thanks for dropping by, Anne!  I can hardly wait to dig into the latest escapades of Webrid, Stravin, and Zatell!  

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You can learn more about Anne E. Johnson at her website.

Purchase Blue Diamond Delivery directly from the publisher, Candlemark & Gleam, or on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Don’t miss the rest of Anne’s blog tour stops, which include author AND character interviews, more terrific articles, a giveaway, and a space music countdown!

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Well, virtual dinner, at least.

Amazing author Anne E. Johnson, will be stopping by tomorrow on her Blog TourAEJohnson small

She’ll be telling us about what it’s like to write a trio of leading characters, which is exactly what she does in Green Light Delivery and Blue Diamond Delivery.

This adult series is lively, fun, and imaginative, and so is the trio of characters in it!GLD-link

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So, get caught up on your reading at Anne’s other blog stops and don’t be late for dinner!

~~Mo

Anne E. Johnson reads like a rock star!

When I heard through a Broad Universe communication that Anne E. Johnson was going to be reading from her science fiction novel, Green Light Delivery, at Head House Books in Philadelphia on May 19th (my father’s birthday), I decided to attend and show some support for a sister Broad.  Dad would have approved of that.  From a purely selfish standpoint, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a good long while!

Not only does Anne emit sincerity, she holds a crowd like a rock star when she reads!  Of course, one cannot give Anne’s superior talent for public reading all the credit.  Her writing talent gets a huge kudos for its part, too.  The two excerpts in the reading were crisp, inventive, and  . . . alive!

When Anne stopped reading, I was disappointed, but only until my mind could zoom back to the here and now, riding on the exhilarating knowledge that I could get this talented author to sign a copy of Green Light Delivery!  Turnabout was fair play, after all.  She’d captivated me, and now, I was going to do the same with her.  Non-stalkerishly, you pessimists!  Okay, well, maybe slightly stalkerishly.

Anne was so gracious that I felt guilty afterward, albeit WAY pleased with myself for snagging her autograph, but definitely NOT too proud to get hubby Walt to grab a snapshot WithAnneEJohnsonANDHERBOOK5.19.2013of Anne’s genuine smile and my goofy astonishment (holding the coveted signed copy of the book, which didn’t quite make it completely into the photo…damn you, Murphy!).

Tell me it wasn’t generous of her to give me a chance to retake that photo, and I’ll smack you on the nose much harder than Dorothy Gale from Kansas ever thought of doing to that wimpy lion!  WithAnneEJohnson5.19.2013

It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday evening, and I look forward to reading the novel and its sequel, Blue Diamond Delivery, which is due for release June 25, 2013 by publisher Candlemark & Gleam.

For those of you who love lively science fiction that will keep you laughing and thinking at the same time but couldn’t come out to hear Anne read (so that you could get as lucky as I did in snagging an autographed print copy of Green Light Delivery), I have great news!  Anne uses Authorgraph to sign digital copies of her works.  Get thee to Authorgraph, buy a copy of the book, and Anne will sign it digitally for you!

Get thee also to calendar reminders for June so you can be the second in line for an autograph/authorgraph of Blue Diamond Delivery(Get thee behind me, stalkers.  I was here first!)