Feb. 9, 2021

Steve Neil Johnson: Many Paths Always A Writer

Steve Neil Johnson: Many Paths Always A Writer

Ep:070  Steve Neil Johnson is the author of the bestselling Doug Orlando mysteries, FINAL ATONEMENT (Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Mystery) and FALSE CONFESSIONS, for which one critic said “Johnson may very well turn out to be our queer Raymond Chandler.”   The Orlando books grew out of his experiences working for the District Attorney of Brooklyn. While living in New York he also worked with AIDS researchers in the early days of the epidemic.  Since moving to Los Angeles over thirty years ago, he received a bachelor's in English from UCLA, was Elton John's massage therapist for a while, wrote a couple dozen telenovela scripts, and was honored by ONE/National Gay & Lesbian Archives for his contributions to gay lit.  His latest mystery series,

The L.A. After Midnight Quartet, is a four-book, four-decade spanning epic of gay life in the City of Angels, beginning in the 1950s and ending in the 1980s, with each book representing a different decade.  The first book, THE YELLOW CANARY, was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Mystery, followed by THE BLACK CAT and THE BLUE PARROT.  He is currently at work on the final book in the series.  Steve lives with his husband in Brentwood, Los Angeles.

QueerWritersOfCrime.com

Queer Noir @ The Bar

Donate: Buy me a Cup of Coffee

Steve Neil Johnson's Website
Steve's Amazon Page

Among the Living by Jordan Castillo Price

Brad Shreve's Website

ReQueered Tales

Transcript

Steve's Neil Johnson

Brad Shreve: [00:00:00]  Justene I lied to you last week.

Justene: [00:00:24] Oh, God, again, tell me that you didn't lie about not changing the name. hell

Brad Shreve: [00:00:29] No, no, no, no.  I'm not changing the name. The name is here to stay.

Justene: [00:00:32] Oh yeah. Yeah. As long as we can keep holding you accountable every, every couple of weeks, I'm going to make you repeat that promise.

Brad Shreve: [00:00:39] No problem. No problem there last week you complained because I have extended your segment and you've you felt like I was taking it all with announcements,

Justene: [00:00:51] Well, you know, it's fine, but it's just, I was just thinking that our listeners might want to like, not have the whole extension going to announcements.

Brad Shreve: [00:01:00] Yes, you are correct. And so I'll make these quick, but  I told you last week that I would only have one announcement and you said, yeah, but you've got a whole week to think about it

Justene: [00:01:08] Yeah. Yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:01:09] but I only have two, one of them's  a big event that's coming up.

So

Justene: [00:01:12] Okay. I'm ready. Hit me.

Brad Shreve: [00:01:15] let me grab my scraps of paper. Okay. This is something I would love if all of our listeners would participate in and all they have to do to participate is. Watch and listen, and that is  queer. Novar at the bar

Justene: [00:01:30] Oh, yes. I'm looking forward to that.

Brad Shreve: [00:01:33] well, I am too. It's coming up Friday, February 12th. , And I will be one of the people reading and there's a slew of us that will be reading segments of our books.

And you also learn a little bit about each author it's no cost. It is a fundraiser for Lambda literary, but it's no cost to sign in and watch what's going on. It's on Crowdcast, which is a lot like zoom, but, , people that are going beyond that we've had on the show, we've got John Copenhagen as a host.

Justene: [00:02:03] Yeah,

Brad Shreve: [00:02:04] And then Dharma Keller has been on twice and Loughlin has been on Edwin Hill was on last week.

Justene: [00:02:12] right, right. All good

Brad Shreve: [00:02:14] he's the one that put it together and he'll be reading as well. And then some folks coming up that are going to be on the show, PJ Vernon, Wendy Hurd and Meredith Dench. They are coming up and they'll be reading as well.

So there is a link on the website and I'll also have it in the show notes. It'll say queer. No are at the bar. So. Look at that and take a look and please join us. It'd be great.  It'd be fun. And you also will have the opportunity to donate some money to Lambda literary, because like all charities this year, they are hurting.

Justene: [00:02:48] Yes.

Brad Shreve: [00:02:49] Okay. Are you ready for announcement? Number two, go ahead. Go ahead.

Justene: [00:02:52] No, I was just going to say Lambda literary is a great organization. It's got one of the, , best award programs out there. So people should really support them, particularly if they enjoy , the  gay mystery genre and the larger gay literature genre.

Brad Shreve: [00:03:07] I agree. And I suggest going to their website and sign up for the newsletter because it's a monthly newsletter. I think it's a monthly newsletter. They always have a good list of book recommendations. And periodically John Copenhafer writes review is that he suggests that are, crime novels.

Justene: [00:03:24] Right.

Brad Shreve: [00:03:25] Definitely check them out, join the show and also checked out Lim Lambda, literary. They are a great organization. So are you ready for number two?

Justene: [00:03:34] Okay. All right.

Brad Shreve: [00:03:36] Okay. Back a while ago, we did patron and we only did for about a month and I closed it down because didn't want people to be locked into having pay every month.

But people have asked me why can't I give money on Patriot? Now I did add a button to both the show notes and on the website, because I did this as a labor love. I don't do it to raise money and I will do it no matter what, but it does cost me almost a hundred dollars a month to run this show.

Justene: [00:04:05] Yeah, that's, that's pretty amazing.

Brad Shreve: [00:04:07] So I am more than happy if people would like to donate whatever they want to get dollar a hundred dollars, whatever. And I'm really pushing it with the a hundred dollars and

Justene: [00:04:19] but are they or do they just give money one time?

Brad Shreve: [00:04:22] They just get money. One time. There may be an option to subscribe monthly, but it's mainly a tip jar.

Justene: [00:04:29] Okay.

Brad Shreve: [00:04:30] in, you drop your money and you can write thank you or whatever you want. It's called , buy me a cup of coffee. So, the website, there's a button that says, buy me a cup of coffee.

And in the show notes, there will be a link that says, buy me a cup of coffee. Now I know Justene, we'll probably use the money to buy tequila or something of that nature.

Justene: [00:04:50] I dunno, that's already in my budget.

Brad Shreve: [00:04:52] Okay,

Justene: [00:04:53] That's really built in

Brad Shreve: [00:04:55] but I always need coffee money.

Justene: [00:04:57] that's right.

Brad Shreve: [00:04:58] So look out for those. And if you can, that'd be great. If not,  we'll still be here, no matter what.

Justene: [00:05:04] That's right.

Brad Shreve: [00:05:05] Okay. So that only took about five minutes. So you've got plenty of time to do your book recommendation. I, I rambled it really fast for you.

Justene: [00:05:14] All right. Well, you know, now, now we're going to be stuck with a, I hope that I fill the time so that everybody knows mobile, C,

Brad Shreve: [00:05:26] Oh, wait a minute. I forgot one thing.

Justene: [00:05:28] Oh, good.

Brad Shreve: [00:05:29] Just kidding. Go ahead.

Justene: [00:05:34] Well, I'm pulling up.  The, spreadsheet of things I have suggested before. And I think that, okay. I realized that what I thought was a steamy recommendation is actually called a flaming recommendation on my recommendation system. So if you like flaming or you avoid flaming, that gives you an idea what this is about.

the book is among the living first in the psych hop series of novels. And it's written by Jordan Casteel price,  this is the first book and at the end she's well, there may be a couple more books that I write. Last week she released the 12th book in the psych hop series. The, the relationship between the two main characters.

It's interesting because a lot of books with couple solving crimes have a lot of romance in the first book, and then they kind of just settle into a relationship. This one starts off as a hookup. That goes, uh, exceedingly well, but it's not the normal romance sort of rhythm, but  as the series goes on, there's more romance rather than less romance in the story.

So , that gives you , the romantic heat flaming level, a lot of good sex scenes. If you like that, however, there is a crime,  it's really a terrific crime now because the cycop, the main character, Victor Bain is a psychic and the. Other main characters in it are, , Lisa, the Aras, who is his partner and then Jacob Marks and Carolyn  are the other two partners who are cops.

And  the set up is somewhat futuristic. Although it's, set in a, , probably an alternate timeline to this one, the,  how do I, how do I say this? There's acceptance of psychics. Although,  there's still some prejudice against psychics, but you know, they're now officially accepted and used, but there's still a fair amount of, , homophobia so much so that Victor Bain tries to keep himself closeted.

 And I'm not sure if that wasn't so much the time at which was originally written

Brad Shreve: [00:08:01] , I thought cycop was an odd name, but it makes perfect sense. Now that you explained it,

Justene: [00:08:06] right. And the way this just

Brad Shreve: [00:08:07] Oh, go ahead.

Justene: [00:08:08] no TV show, which.

Brad Shreve: [00:08:11] Do you remember the TV show where the woman helped the police? She was psychic

Justene: [00:08:16] Medium or go Swissper, which, which

Brad Shreve: [00:08:19] medium. That was a great show.

Justene: [00:08:21] Patricia Arquette. Shad

Brad Shreve: [00:08:22] Yes. Yes. That was a wonderful show.

So

Justene: [00:08:25] She, she worked with a Texas ranger and that actually was based on a real psychic. So though everybody has their opinion about whether psych it's a real, but it was based on a real person who worked with the Texas Rangers and had helped them on some cases.

Brad Shreve: [00:08:40] So we're talking about TV rather than books. So, uh,

Justene: [00:08:42] Well, I know, but you know,

Brad Shreve: [00:08:44] made my mind go there.

Justene: [00:08:46] well, that's why we have these lengthier segments now. So then we can, we can afford these little forays into popular culture.

Brad Shreve: [00:08:53] Okay. Well, back to Jordan spot.

Justene: [00:08:56] back to Jordan's book. So the system set up that there's a psychic branch of the police force and you have to be a certified psychic to be in. And each psychic is paired with, , someone who is not psychic, who was the slang for that as stiff, where they they radiate no psychic energy and the psychic cop goes out and.

The stiff cop is not only there , as a check on the cycop,  someone who can actually deal with the practicalities while the cop is the psychic guy is dealing with , their psychic ability, but also , to act as a check to say, look, maybe you're off base here or not. Each psychic has a different ability and they have a different level of ability.

And Victor Bain speaks to the dead. , and  he has such a high level psychic that the dead almost never leave him alone. So what he does to turn the voices off is he uses a drug called RSL. And at the beginning of the book, he has now taken an increased quite a bit dose of RSL.

, And  he's the equivalent of drunk. And he runs into Jacob who is a, another cop and they hook up in the bathroom. And then, you know, as these things go, , Jacob and his partner  Carolyn, they show up as somebody else , , for Victor to work with.

Brad Shreve: [00:10:22] He speaks to that or they speak to him.

Justene: [00:10:25] both they have long conversations.

Brad Shreve: [00:10:27] Oh, interesting. I would love to be able to speak to that because there are some people  that are no longer in my life that I would love to say a few things to,

Justene: [00:10:34] Oh, no, he doesn't have, he doesn't get that. No, that is not how this works at all.

Brad Shreve: [00:10:41] not that I carry a grudge, but.

Justene: [00:10:43] No, no, no. That's not how it works at all. People who were murdered or committed suicide or hanging around like going ranting on and on about just how bad things were and who killed them in the like, and so  he only like runs into a ghost where they guide and, you know, it's basically like, you know, the crazy homeless person on the street who comes up and bothers you  and that's why he's got to take the oral Southern term off.

Brad Shreve: [00:11:09] That sounds like something that would be fun for like a day and it would get really hold fast.

Justene: [00:11:13] Oh, yeah,  there's a, dead prostitute who is lives outside of his apartment, who just rants and raves at him. Every time he comes home, goes on and on and on about how he's like ignoring her. And he's just like all the others and then starts ranting about, you know, how she died. No dah, dah. And it's just, you know, he he's off and intersections and dead people who have died in car accidents.

He can't tell for sure while he's driving along at a high speed, whether or not they're real people or dead people, and he's got a swerve around them. And then because nobody else can see him, he swerves into them. It has really not someplace that you'd want to go, but since he has this ability, the best way to use this stability is as a homicide detective.

, his former partner, Maurice just retired and he's assigned a new partner, , called Lisa goodie Erez, and very quickly in the book, we discover that.

Lisa , has psychic abilities of her own. And she answered the questions in such a way that it appeared that she was not psychic. So she gets assigned to him and she gets quickly called out her psychic ability. Is that. If she asks a specific question, , she'll get, yes, no. And so,  if you say, is the killer, still in the city?

Yes. has he killed, more than this many people? Yes. And how many of these people were in a city too? And she says, yes. , and they go about, and they're able to, . Sort this out, but she suspended before the police department and then he's assigned to Jacob and Carolyn, Jacob is a non psychic and he's been partnering with Carolyn for a long time.

Carolyn is only a level two psychic. Um, levels go up to six. , Victor is a five, but she's a level two psychic that can tell when someone is lying. So she's very good at questioning witnesses. So Jacob now , has both Victor and Carolyn on his team and the three of them who are not supposed to talk to Lisa at all, bring her into investigate the case.

And, you know, all sorts of trouble on that end. Does the murders themselves very interesting. but when he shows up at the murder scene, ,  he finds a naked male body in the middle of the bed and then shards of mirrors all around them. , and in the first scene he can't find the spirit at all.

And then he said,  even if, when I'm on RSO, They leave me alone. But if I want to open my, my mind and listen to them, I can always find them. And here I am  hung over from my heavy dose of RSL, but I'm not really impaired at all. And I can't hear this person.

And then when it goes to the second murder scene, he discovered the same thing. So the murder has somehow done something. That has so that the dead spirit is not hanging around telling anybody any clues.  and that basically gives you the story. You got a serial killer, who's doing these unique, bizarre killings.

They can't find any witnesses who recognize who's a serial killer is. And , they go about and solve the crime. They find the clues they use, , Carolyn's ability to interview the witnesses, to find out if they're telling the truth or not. They find a, they use his ability talking to, uh, dead people.

Although, you know, significant that, that people aren't speaking to him. So he doesn't quite have all the information he usually has. , they use Lisa's ability of Nia snow to  track down and trying to figure out where the actual killer is. And. Through it all. , Jacob handles himself quite well.

He knows how to use these abilities and he knows how to,  stand as a buffer between the psychics and the various other people around at the scene, the witnesses, the medical examiners, the beat cops, and he just handles all of that quite well.

Brad Shreve: [00:15:18] , sounds like some good world-building with the different types of

Justene: [00:15:22] Yes. It took her a very long to write the first book with all the world-building. It's an it's actually in the Velo length. , But she builds a lot of the world. And then she, the I've read most of the books, the 12th one has just come out, but I've read the others and the world stays very consistent throughout .

There's not much later of saying, there's this tweak in his ability that didn't really exist in the earlier books. It always stays consistent. And he and Jacob. As you might guess, Jacob is the hookup at the beginning, and then he's got to work with him as being the non psychic member of this four person group.

And that becomes a little uncomfortable, but somehow they manage to keep that relationship going.

Brad Shreve: [00:16:06] And how did you rate the recommendation

Justene: [00:16:09] It's a steamy, right? Nope. Nope. Nope. See me as not the right word, a flaming recommendation.

Brad Shreve: [00:16:16] So there's some , good scenes there too.

. And is that all you got?

Justene: [00:16:19] that's all I have.

Brad Shreve: [00:16:21] Okay, great. , we will talk to you next week.

Justene: [00:16:24] Okay. Well looking forward to it.

 

 Brad Shreve: [00:16:46] Steve Neil Johnson is the author of the best-selling Doug Orlando mysteries, final atonement and false confessions. For which one critic said Johnson may very well turn out to be our queer Raymond Chandler, the Orlando books out of his experiences, working for the district attorney of Brooklyn. The LA after midnight quartet is a four book Epic of gay life in the city of angels began in the 1950s and ending in the 1980s with each book representing a different decade.

He is currently a work in the final book in the series. Steve lives with his husband and Brentwood, Los Andes. Welcome to the show, Steve. I'm glad to have you on today.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:17:24] well, thank you so much for having me

  

Brad Shreve: [00:17:27] You have two series, you have the Doug Orlando mysteries, and then you have the LA after midnight quartet.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:17:35] That is correct?

Brad Shreve: [00:17:36] I want to ask you starting off about the Doug Orlando series that started in 92 and 93 in my correct.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:17:44] Yes. Uh huh. They were published by penguin, , almost 30 years now.

Brad Shreve: [00:17:47] Okay. The first one was final Toman. That was your first book.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:17:53] Yes.

Brad Shreve: [00:17:54] And that was nominated for a Lambda literary award. You were finalist.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:17:59] Yes indeed.

Brad Shreve: [00:18:00] Why did you stop it too?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:18:03] Well actually The books didn't sell as well as we had hoped. And so penguin didn't want to continue with them. At that time period, there were a lot of gay writers being published. And I think a lot of people in the publishing industry felt gay books were going to be the next big thing. And then it just didn't happen.

The sales numbers just weren't there. The good news about the Doug Orlando books for me is that eventually they went out of print and the rights reverted back to me and I self them on Amazon now. So people are still reading them 30 years later. So that's kind of what happened with those books.

And in those days you kind of had less opportunities. You didn't have the internet nowadays, if you publish a book with a big publisher, And they decided they don't want to continue with them. You can just you know, so publish them on Amazon, but we didn't have that at that time.

Brad Shreve: [00:18:58] Okay. So I want to talk about your growing up. You grew up and were raised in Seattle.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:19:04] I was, yes,

Brad Shreve: [00:19:06] Why did you leave Seattle?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:19:08] I was so sick and tired of the rain. Seattle is a wonderful city, but it rains like nine months out of the year. And I just wanted sunshine. So I did a crazy thing. I moved to New York city, which is, you got a little bit of sunshine. You get a whole lot of blizzards. And I was there throughout most of the 1980s, but by 1987, I just decided I really wanted to be in LA and I moved here.

30 years ago and I never looked back.

Brad Shreve: [00:19:40] You had a little adventure going from Seattle to New York. , do you want to talk about that?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:19:46] When I went to New York, I was planning on going just for the summer I got on the plane. I just had a backpack. And back in those days, we used to do Western dancing. I had my boots tied to the back of the backpack and, uh, but I ended up spending seven years there instead.

And it was actually really informative for me. As a writer, because my first books, my first mystery novels, the Doug Orlando books take place in New York. And I worked in a lot of law offices and also in the district attorney's office. So I got a lot of background and I really got to know the city.

Well, what makes it tick? What the people are like? So those Doug Orlando books were written by an insider who, who really knew that city well,

Brad Shreve: [00:20:33] Yeah, I would think working for the district attorney  would give you a lot of information to write from.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:20:38] Yeah. And the Doug Lando books are really ripped from the headlines type books. A lot of the stuff in there is factual, including some of the murder cases.

Brad Shreve: [00:20:49] So you moved to New York with the goal of becoming an author, which many people

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:20:54] Yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:20:55] And like most of you didn't immediately write the great American novel. So other than working for an attorney's office, what was your life like in New York?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:21:06] Well, I moved there just before we learned about the AIDS crisis. I mean, I moved there literally a couple of weeks before the first mention of the disease uh, occurred in various publications. I, I can remember I was actually in the gym. And the radio was playing and they mentioned this new disease in which gaming were getting a skin cancer.

And my response to it was, Oh, you know, a lot of guys are just going out to fire Island and this is, this is what this is. And of course it totally exploded in it. The AIDS crisis really took over our lives. And I w I actually had a very interesting experience because I started working with AIDS researchers actually back in 1981.

So it was very, very early. There was a very small number of cases at that time. And I worked with Matilda cram who really became one of the great saints in the fight against AIDS. She what was a PhD who ran the interferon labs at Sloan Kettering. And at that time period, there was hope that may be interferon would be this miraculous cure for this new disease.

And it didn't turn out to be, but she ended up getting skating for life. To educating people about AIDS and raising money for the disease. She was very well connected with Hollywood. Her husband was a Hollywood mogul, and so she was able to draw people and money in from Hollywood to  educate people about the disease.

Brad Shreve: [00:22:37] One, was it called aid center? Was it still being called the gay cancer?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:22:41] I think the first official or a dance that it had was grid gay related immune deficiency. And they, they dumped that moniker fairly soon. And they came up with the the term AIDS acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Brad Shreve: [00:22:57] How did you come about working with aid researchers? What did you do?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:23:00] It was, it was a total accident. My ex actually it was, uh, had a temp job at Sloan Kettering in interferon labs where Dr. Crim, worked, she was the head of the labs. And I came in there on weekends because I wanted to learn how to do word processing, which I guess some of your younger listeners probably wouldn't even know what a word processor is.

But D do you know what I'm talking about?

Brad Shreve: [00:23:23] yes, I do.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:23:25] Okay. Well, it was sort of like, yeah, there was a short period between the typewriters that were used in the seventies and the personal computers of the nineties. And these were these big, heavy machines and basically you'd have a keyboard and you would have a screen screens, so you could edit on it just like in word, but that's kind of all it did.

And it was, it was kind of the cliche. And New York at the time that if you were a waiter, you'd make your living. If you're active, you'd make , your living as a waiter. If you were struggling novelist, you make your living doing temp work. Word-processing temp work often in law offices and stuff like that.

And that's what I did, uh, although I did have my own business. So my experience was a little bit different than the people who were temping.

Brad Shreve: [00:24:11] What was your own business?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:24:13] Well, it was just I offered word-processing services  mostly mostly the law offices, but, uh, whenever Dr. Crim needed me, I was there. I, it's kind of interesting when I've read books about the AIDS crisis.

I knew a lot of those people, I knew a lot of those researchers , who were working to fight against AIDS at that time period.

Brad Shreve: [00:24:31] Yeah. And that's why I want to talk a little bit about during the AIDS crisis. I was a young man in North Carolina and I was closeted. So AIDS was something that was happening out there to those people. I was very sheltered by it and I, know what a difficult time it was for so many people , that I didn't experience, but

you experienced it from a different perspective, working with researchers.  Can you describe what that time period was like going through that?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:25:00] Well, it, it, it was a pretty scary time because we didn't know what it was. We, we made certain assumptions that it was a virus that was similar to hepatitis in the way that it was spread, that it was spread through blood products that it could be spread through having sex, but not, you know, from someone sneezing on you or something like that.

Just like the AIDS crisis brings out the very, very best in people. And it brings out the very, very worst and living through that time, period, I think, uh, was very, uh, traumatizing for for an awful lot of gay men because a lot of people acted so badly. So it was a very difficult and painful time.

And of course our friends and our loved ones were dying and they were dying, terrible deaths. And for a lot of people, they just, you know, they just didn't care. Or even they were kind of amused by the suffering that we were going through. So it was, it was actually a really terrible time. And the final book in my LA after midnight quartet takes place at that time period.

And I'm writing that book now, and it's really difficult going back and seeing how people treated one another. And I even questioned as I was writing as I'm writing this book, but people didn't believe, you know, how badly some people acted. So yeah, it was a very tough time. Very tough time.

Brad Shreve: [00:26:25] Yeah, I do remember all that in the news. Again, it was, for me, it was something in the news  ' m sure like many of our younger listeners I can't even imagine. 

 In 1987, you moved to Los Angeles.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:26:38] I did.

Brad Shreve: [00:26:39] Was it specifically  to, , get away from New York or did you have any specific goals?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:26:45] There were a number of reasons. I was taking care of my ex, uh, who was ill with AIDS, and we really wanted to get out of, , New York. It was just such a cold, difficult city.  And we just wanted, , a warmer climate. So, so that was basically the reason, but also it was kind of an evolution for me. This is, I always wanted to live in an assignee climate.

And so th so that's what we did.

Brad Shreve: [00:27:09] Well, it's nice to talk to somebody from LA. I talk to people from all over the world. So hi neighbor.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:27:15] Hello.

Brad Shreve: [00:27:16] And one thing I got to tell you, that's really interesting. . I saw in some information that you live near where OJ Simpson's house used to be, they've torn it down now. And you live near where gangster Mickey Cohen's house.

Yeah,

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:27:30] Yes. Yes. That's actually, that's actually, you've done your research. Yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:27:35] the, caught my eye because I used to live in Brentwood and I lived in Mickey. Cohen's old home.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:27:41] Did. Okay. Yeah, that's just a couple of blocks away. I drive by it all the time. That house was actually bombed, you know, they, they bomb, I think he was in the shower and that's what saved him. But, but that place was actually bombed 1.0, that's incredible.

Brad Shreve: [00:28:09] I hear conflicting stories about the house. I heard that and the alarm went off and Mickey had time to run and I guess 30 sticks of dynamite were thrown into the house. I used to hear. And we used to tell people was that Mickey was in the shower and they shoved the dynamite under the floorboard. And he was lucky enough that the dynamite was underneath him save.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:28:35] Oh,

Brad Shreve: [00:28:36] I find the second story more interesting. So I'm going to go with that one.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:28:40] no, there are great stories. Why not?

Brad Shreve: [00:28:41] Exactly.  I always go with the more interesting one. Why wouldn't I do otherwise?  So we have that connection. You also have a connection when you came to LA with Elton John.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:28:54] I was Elton John's massage therapist. For about two years. This is about 30 years ago. Whenever he was in LA. Yeah. I would massage him.

Brad Shreve: [00:29:04] , it's interesting considering all the different work you've done. , how did you become a massage therapist?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:29:09] well, you know, I wanted to have a job where I could make a lot of money per hour and I could live on that and, and spend, , the rest of my time writing the focus was, , you know, it didn't really matter to me what kind of work it was I wanted to make. , a good amount of money, , per hour. And then I could also, uh, do my writing.

I didn't want to have a nine to five and for me, massage was an okay way to make a living. But at that time period, basically every actor. Uh, who wasn't making the living acting was also a massage therapist and every housewife who, you know, whose kids were in school was becoming a massage therapist. So there was just an awful lot of competition and it was very difficult, , to make a living doing that.

And I really only did it for a couple of years. If you've saw the movie rocket man, uh, Elton John's, , , biography. I started massaging him about six months after that a movie was over.

Brad Shreve: [00:30:08] So after he got clean and sober,

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:30:11] yeah, and I met him, actually went to his six, my husband and I actually went to a six sobriety party and we were the only ones there who weren't in a,

Brad Shreve: [00:30:20] And how did you come up, meeting out in there? How did,  that job come about?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:30:23] You know, I advertised in the frontiers, , which was the newspaper here at the time. And I think the reason I got the call is because I went to great lengths to make it clear that I was a legit massage therapist in my ad. A lot of people were doing, you know, more than that. And I got a call from his personal valet and he said, uh, George King is flying in from London and would like a massage.

And I, that, this sounds a little bit weird to me, George King, King George. So anyway, but I went, I went to anyway and it was this big house off of Mulholland that Elton was renting. He was actually in town for a couple of months then because his boyfriend at the time was taking some kind of a schooling, , because he was buying into a franchise.

So that's how I actually got to know him. And sometimes it was kind of surreal because I would be massaging his boyfriend and then Elton would be in the other room playing the piano. Now I think this is crazy. You're massaging someone else and it's doing the accompaniment. It was so anyway, but it was a fun time.

Sasha morphine period of, , about two years when I first started massaging cam, that was when I got. , my first, uh, agent for my first book. And the last time I talked to Elton was about two years later, he was in town, , for , a fundraiser for AIDS project, Los Angeles, and he wanted to have a massage.

And I told him, you know, my book has just come out. I'm doing a reading at a different light bookstore. So I can't,  massage you. But he did something, uh, that, that was really sweet. A couple of days later, he went down to a different light and he bought my book. And a lot of times people will,  they'll profess to have an interest in your writing or something like that, but he actually, you know, took the time to go get my book.

And I really appreciated that. And, uh, for, for months afterwards, whenever I would go to a different light, the staff would crowd around me and talk about the day Elton came and bought your book. So, so anyway,

Brad Shreve: [00:32:29] Yeah. What an honor. And like so many  gay bookstores across the country. I really miss light and

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:32:36] Oh,

Brad Shreve: [00:32:36] it's sad to see them all going away. And it's funny to me, you mentioned frontiers and they found you in an advertisement in frontiers. And I don't know how wide of a circulation frontiers had , but  for the listeners, every major city had its own gay magazine and frontiers was the big one here in Southern

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:32:55] Yes. Yes.

Brad Shreve: [00:32:56] And you're right. The advertisements from the back for massage therapists. Well, they certainly offered a lot more than, uh,

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:33:03] Yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:33:06] prostate massage was used quite frequently.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:33:10] I don't even want to picture that. I don't even want to think about it.

Brad Shreve: [00:33:14] So I just find it hysterical that that's actually where they found you when they were looking for a real therapist. That's funny to me. One thing that you were honored for was the one, the national gay and lesbian archive.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:33:28] Uh huh.

Brad Shreve: [00:33:28] You Got a contribution for gay lit. What was that for?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:33:33] You know, I think these things are often fundraisers. They had a big shindig at the LRA theater, which I don't know if you know that theater is, I think it's on Wilsher and it's kind of a beautiful art deco building and they honored a number of writers. Lily Tomlin came and she did , a skit for us and, , petitioner, Warren, you know, who wrote the front runner was one of the people who was honored, but I was as well.

And, and, and several other people,  all I remember is I stood up, I bowed and people applauded. That was, that was kind of it.

Brad Shreve: [00:34:09] The national gay and lesbian archive that's located at USC. Correct.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:34:13] it is. Yeah. And it's, it's a wonderful thing. I go down there all the time for my books. Yeah. Fantastic archives.

Brad Shreve: [00:34:18] Yeah, it's amazing. I think it's the best archives for gay literature

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:34:22] Yeah, I w I would think so. They just, they just have everything. It's amazing. They have you know, newspapers going back,  more than half a century and just, just all kinds of stuff.

Brad Shreve: [00:34:33] Well, I got to tell you, they let me down.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:34:36] I did.

Brad Shreve: [00:34:36] uh, well, it wasn't their fault. I am working on a series I'd like to start that involves a, , gay PI in the 1920s.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:34:46] Oh,

Brad Shreve: [00:34:47] And I couldn't find mine. So I contacted them and I, the words came my mouth was, I was looking, I was trying to find information about gay life in the 1920s.

And the guy said your job is done. And I said, what do you mean? And he said, we have information on the teams and we have ministries on the thirties, but there's very little from the twenties. And I'm, , are you serious? And I do know that was when Hollywood was. Starting to become the movie capital of the world. And before then Hollywood was very conservative and they worked with the police and had neighborhood brigades that would go through the neighborhood to make sure that nothing illicit was going on in the community. Other than that. There's not a whole lot of information. I know there were some, , speakeasies downtown that , were gay clubs and people met at, uh, I can't remember the big hotel that's right at MacArthur park, but unlike New York and in Chicago, where there was a lot of, you knew it, but you didn't talk about it.

Gay shows going on LA. Apparently wasn't one of them.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:35:55] I would recommend it. And one book, uh, gay LA by Stewart Timmins and, uh, Lillian Federman. , it goes way back to like native American times. And then it goes to the present. , and that book was actually really influential for me for the LA after midnight books. I, I never would have written those books without the research from that particular book and Stewart Timmins, , was actually in my writer's group for about 20 years.

He passed away a couple of years ago, but when I read the chapter he had written on. , LA in the 1950s, which I think that the, , chapter is titled LA new war. But anyway, I called him up and I said, you know, this is a mystery writers dream. , and, , , several of the characters in my books actually based on real life, people who were in that chapter.

So that's something I can really recommend to you.

Brad Shreve: [00:36:49] You know, I was familiar with that book and I've completely forgotten about it. , I think I was going to buy it and I never did. So thank you for the reminder on that.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:36:57] Well, yeah, it's a wonderful book. It's a wonderful book.

Brad Shreve: [00:37:00] And  when you got to LA you wrote 25. Tell him the Bella scripts.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:37:04] I did. Yeah, that was, that was a fun experience. It was sort of an odd thing for, for many, many years, they were trying to get the telanovela art form, uh, into, , American television. You know, it's very popular, , in, , South America. These were essentially soap operas, but they have a limited number of episodes, a hundred episodes or 200 episodes or something like that.

And they've been trying for years to. Try to, , make a successful one, , an English language, one for American audience. And this was an attempt, it was. So this was actually a failed attempt at that.  It was filmed in Mexico and it had two different casts. We wrote the scripts for the, you was speaking cast, and then they would have , Mexican writers, right.

Uh, for the, the, , Spanish speaking cast and they would use one set, but when they were doing the Spanish speaking stuff in like the living room, they'd be filming the English speaking stuff in the And in some other room on the set. And so it was, it was done on the cheap, but you know, it never even aired in America.

So I refer to it as, as you know, my cheap Mexican soap opera anyway, but it was, it was a lot of fun and I got paid for it and it was, it was an interesting experience for me.

Brad Shreve: [00:38:20] Yeah, I couldn't figure out how you wound up writing telenovelas of, of all things. So that's interesting that , they tried that failed experiment. Unfortunately.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:38:28] Yeah, it's I have a weird, it's a weird way to tell stories. The producers of the show actually develop the storyline and all the cliffhangers and I would receive it would be basically the pub, a couple of paragraphs. Uh and, and then I would turn that into, , a finished script.

Brad Shreve: [00:38:51] Well, I'm wanting to get back to talking about your novels. Uh, , I brought up Doug Orlando.

 Steve Neil Johnson: [00:38:56] There are police procedurals that take place in New York, , during the, , early 1990s.

Brad Shreve: [00:39:02] Okay. But then later you wrote the LA after midnight quartet. And that's your second series? How one? I don't know if you're aware. Justene who does the book recommendations at the beginning of the show?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:39:13] she did the, yeah, you got the yellow Canary. She was very kind.  I am. I am so thankful. I think she called it somewhat of a classic. So she's my new best friend.

 

Well, well here, here's what it is. Yellow Canary. Second book, black cat, third book, blue parrots. 

Brad Shreve: [00:39:30] Okay. Well, I want to say in her recommendation, she  gave it a gritty recommendation. Why do you think she called it gritty?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:39:39] uh, well, because , it's a, , a tough, , book it's, , it's a noirish novel. So I think that's, that's why she gave it that category.

Brad Shreve: [00:39:50] And you said the Duggar Lando series was a police procedural. How was the LA after midnight different?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:39:57] well, they're historical mysteries with the police procedurals. You have basically the The team of police sort of standing over a dead body, usually at the beginning. And a lot of it has to do with police procedure and stuff like that with the Doug Orlando books, because he's kind of ostracized by the the, , others in the police force.

It kind of, it's kind of a mix of the police procedural and sort of the lone detective novel. So I sort of merged those two sub-genres for, for the, , those books.

Brad Shreve: [00:40:29] Well, I'm gonna put you on the spot here. The LA after midnight, it's a quartet.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:40:37] Uh,

Brad Shreve: [00:40:38] the

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:40:38] don't ask

Brad Shreve: [00:40:39] that the

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:40:40] don't

mask.

Brad Shreve: [00:40:41] 2016, whereas that is not a quartet.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:40:46] All I can tell you. All I can tell you is my friends have learned not to ask me how my writing is going. Just steer clear. Yeah, I've suffered from some pretty bad, uh, writer's block. And, you know, I had never been that sympathetic towards people who said, you know, they're suffering from writer's block.

I just figured, you know, if you don't have anything to say, you don't have anything to say for me. I have had something to say, I do want to say something. And it's just been, it's just been very difficult, getting it out. It's hard to describe when it's happening to you. I remember James M. Cain, you know, the classic mystery writer who wrote double indemnity Mildred Pierce.

Uh, the postman always rings twice. In the 1950s. After he'd written these classic books, he decided that he was going to write the great American novel, his big, you know, gone with the wind S Epic. And he ended up spending 10 gruely, excretion years writing and rewriting this book. And finally, when he ended up publishing it after 10 years, It was a measly 200 page books and nobody was interested.

So you have to really, you have to really be careful. You don't fall into one of these traps and when it's happening to you, it's kind of powerless. Uh, but the good news for me is that I'm almost done with the book. So I will have it out soon. I won't give a date, , but I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Brad Shreve: [00:42:21] Well, you're smart. I give dates and then I never make themself. And then I have. Readers saying what's happening here.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:42:28] Yeah, you're not alone.

Brad Shreve: [00:42:31] I'm curious. , the book follows several decades. The first in the book is in the fifties, the second in the sixties and the third and the seventies. It is a possible that you had the writer's block in the eighties because there was such a difficult, era.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:42:45] In some ways I think so, but I'm, I'm just not sure, you know, you look for excuses. Why, why can't I do this? So, so, so it could be that it, it certainly is a painful book to write because I'm writing very honestly about what happened to us at that time period. And it's just a time period that I remember very, very well.

But I think that there's actually something else going on and I'm just not sure, uh, what causes writer's block, but anyway,

Brad Shreve: [00:43:17] Well, some people say there's no such thing and I, I totally disagree. So I understand where

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:43:22] yeah, yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:43:23] The protagonist in. That series is Paul Winters and we see him over a period of 30 years in the series. And soon to be 40 years, who is Paul Winters?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:43:38] And the first book, he's a crusading, , deputy district attorney. He's being groomed to be, uh, the next district attorney. , but of course he has a secret the fact that he's gay and if anybody finds out his career will be ruined and he has a younger dangerously political Jewish boyfriend, David and David is kind of the modern gay man he's way ahead of his time.

And he believes that gay people have to protest in the same way that. Black people are doing it that time period. And of course, for Paul, that's crazy. If you were to go to a March supporting gay rights, especially a thing even existed, , he would be fired from his job. He might even , be disbarred.

So  there's a certain time tension going between them. And then the third main character in the story is Jim Blake and Shan. Blake is kind of, he's really handsome. Attractive guy. He sort of the gay every man in a way for that time period, he's not political. He doesn't really understand, uh, how the political winds, , affects his life.

, he's just trying to, , , live kind of day to day. And he's the one who sets the whole story in motion. It's his first night on the job, uh, as a vice cop. And because he's so handsome, it's his job to go into a gay bar and just to sit and wait for someone to make a pass. And once they do, he will arrest them and their entire life is going to change.

What happened, , when gay people back in the 1950s were arrested for soliciting is it would be very difficult for us , to even get a lawyer because most lawyers felt dealing with homosexuality was just so sleazy that they didn't want to be involved. And you usually end up spending maybe a year's salary.

For your lawyer to try to plead your case down, , so that you didn't have prison time. And then a lot of times the police would also go to your landlord and expose you, and that should lose your home as well. And then they'd , go to your employer and then your employer would fire you. Or if your employer I'd say, you know, gee, I don't care.

He's a good worker. I don't care if he's a homosexual or not. Well, then the employer could be visited by federal agents who would say, you're going to lose your government contracts. You're going to lose your security clearance if you don't fire this guy. So just for being in a bar and saying, yeah, let's go home together.

You could have your whole life ruined. And that's what happens at the beginning of the very first book, , Jim Blake arrests, the sky, and that night, the guy, uh, is found dead in his cell. And, , Jim Blake feels really guilty about what he's done. And so he bands together with Paul Winters, the deputy district attorney to try to find out who killed the sky and why he was murdered.

Brad Shreve: [00:46:37] , I can see why your books would be called gritty because you don't dance around the subjects at all. , from what I'm hearing,

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:46:45] You know, it's, , it's pretty dark stuff, but at the same time, it's really about resilience. It's this, these books, or my omakase to my parents' generation of gay men and lesbians, and , how they built the foundations of the gay rights movement.

Brad Shreve: [00:47:02] The books begin in the fifties and they are going to go over a period of 40 years. Where did you come up with that?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:47:09] Well, I, for some reason I wanted to tell the history of the gay community in America, , during the last half of the 20th century and the Doug Orlando books were, , they took place in the early nineties. So I thought that the nineties were kind of done. And , so that's how I came with the idea of doing it.

The fifties through the 1980s originally, it was only going to be a trilogy. And then I thought, gee, if I end these books in the seventies, everybody's going to be asking, Hey, wait a minute. What happens to these people 10 years later? Because the AIDS crisis was such a catastrophe. So I realized I had to do it as a quartet and include that in the story as well.

Brad Shreve: [00:47:53] Well, it's very creative. In addition to the mysteries, we've talked about, you have two novels that are standalone the endless night and raising cane, and I know racing King is a young adult novel, correct?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:48:07] It is. Yeah, it's a cult thriller. It's kind of a coming out a coat threat against gay, a cold thriller.

Brad Shreve: [00:48:13] , and that's the thing there. They both have supernatural aspects to them. Is that something you see yourself writing more in the future?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:48:22] I don't think so. Uh, for some reason I got really interested in the religion Santeria. And so both of them deal with that. This endless night is the only book I've written with, , , heterosexual protagonists. It's a heterosexual woman. And so that was, that was really an interesting, , book to write.

But what I found is that, uh my adult gay novels are the ones that sell people don't seem to be terribly interested in reading , my book with the heterosexual protagonist.

Brad Shreve: [00:48:52] Understand? Well, so in racing Cain was that the young adult novel. Is that the one that you said had a, a straight

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:48:59] Yeah, it has a gay teen. It has a gay teen. It's a fast moving thriller, but it's also it has a lot of the elements of, you know, , the, the coming out, uh, the gay coming out and awful.

Brad Shreve: [00:49:10] Yeah, because a young adult gay novels are very popular right now.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:49:15] Yeah. Oh yeah. . That's true. , and , this book, it doesn't sell as well as my adult books though, but it does sell with my hand or sexual book. It's like, I can't, I cannot give that one away. And it's actually a good book. So.

Brad Shreve: [00:49:29] Going back to something you said earlier, you said you books have been out for 30 years , and you're happy that people are still buying them. It must feel good when you get that royalty check  these books are still selling.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:49:40] Oh yeah, , I get paid every month,  but there's a satisfaction. I mean, because there are people. Who are reading the books now, who weren't even born when I wrote them. And I find that kind of extraordinary

 Brad Shreve: [00:49:54] so you are a  two time Lambda finalist. You are, you were honored by the national gay and lesbian archives. What does success look like to you?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:50:04] what does success look like to me? Well, I had always wanted to make a living as a writer and that's something I've been able to do. Very rarely, you know, there's really been moments in time and I've been able to do that. So that's a success that I haven't achieved. So I've had to be satisfied with the fact that I feel like I've written good books that have a lot of meaning to people with the LA after midnight books, sometimes I'll get letters from young people saying.

I'm learning in my history by reading your books, or I'll get a letter from an elderly caveman who says, you know, thank you so much for telling him my story. And so I guess I've started measuring success in the fact that I'm really touching people's lives. I got a, , an email from someone in India telling me, you know, how important my, it looks for to him.

And I didn't know that my books were available in India. so I guess that's how I'm measuring success now by the fact that I'm touching people lives, even though it's not like I'm in making a lot of money on the books.

 

Brad Shreve: [00:51:15] So you left Seattle to go to New York, to become a writer, which tells me that you have. Wanting to be a writer from an early age.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:51:26] Yes. Yes. That's all I ever wanted it to be. I was only interested in books and movies.

Brad Shreve: [00:51:30] What are some of the earliest books that set that spark of fire?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:51:36] Well, mystery. What happened was that, I mean, when I was a kid, I read egg, the Christie's and I can remember there was a Hardy boys rip off. Called, , Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigator,   but I kind of lost interest in the mystery genre, probably when I was in my early twenties.

I wasn't interested in books that were just puzzles. I think I wanted more. And what happened by the 1980s is I think a lot of people started being disillusioned with literary fiction. , they felt that I dunno, the books just weren't really that good. And at that time period, uh, crime writers started writing about social issues.

They started writing about the stuff that I was doing interested in you know, the deteriorating inner city, racism, homophobia, sexism, all this kind of stuff. So that's, and also I liked books that were strongly applauded. So I was really drawn towards crime fiction. And when I discovered, , uh, Joseph Hanson.

, that really changed things for me. Probably your listeners know Joseph Hanson with a gay mystery writer and in a way he was kind of the spiritual daddy to a whole generation of, of younger, uh, gay mystery writers. I started writing the date brand stutter series. , I think about 1970. And he wrote, I think, over a dozen of those books and, uh, I just really, , worshiped him.

I, I was just blown away by his writing style and, , so he was a huge influence on me as a mystery writer. He was the biggest influence.

Brad Shreve: [00:53:14] he was a big influence on many, or is still a big influence on many writers and you're right. The, it was fade out was his first novel that came out in 1970.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:53:24] correct? Yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:53:25] groundbreaking.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:53:27] Yeah. And an incredible style. I mean, he just, he just wrote beautifully. He just, it just blew me away.

 

Brad Shreve: [00:53:34] So you sitting at home and you decide, you want to read a book. What are you going to reach over for?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:53:41] Ooh, , it's just sort of depends. I've read an awful lot of, nonfiction, just because it sort of fuels my. My historical, a mystery novels. Sometimes I'll go through like a weird phase. A couple of years ago, I went through a boy adventure phase and I read like King Solomon's minds.

The Island of Dr. Moreau, , Arthur Conan Doyle's the, the lost world of this kind of stuff. And. Those books, which are like a hundred, hundred and 50 years old, they absolutely blew me away because they hadn't dated really at all. They, felt like they were written yesterday and it just kind of hit me that you know, if you write clearly and concisely and stuck your books, you know, can have real lasting power for, for many, many years.

But yeah, I, I jumped around to all kinds of different, uh, all kinds of different stuff. I do read some mysteries. I read some literary stuff. It's it's it's all over the place.

Brad Shreve: [00:54:41] You have an eclectic reading style.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:54:43] Yes, indeed.

Brad Shreve: [00:54:45] I need to work on that for sure. When you aren't reading a writing, what do you like to do?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:54:51] Well, I live for Netflix. My husband and I really enjoy, uh, hiking. And it just turns out that Los Angeles is a very big city, but people don't realize that it's bisected by a mountain range and I can go just about a mile away from me and I can be, , in nature. , we, uh, hike on trails and we, , see rattlesnakes and BC families of deer.

And so, you know, It's  five or 10 minutes away from where we live. So we do that every weekend. Every weekend, we try to come up with a new trail to go on. Okay.

Brad Shreve: [00:55:26] Is this mostly up in the Hollywood Hills.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:55:28] I was not the Hollywood Hills so much because I'm closer to the ocean. It's a North Brentwood.

Brad Shreve: [00:55:34] okay. I know the area you're talking about. , my husband and I. Like to go through the Hollywood Hills. We haven't, since the pandemic started, but, , there's so many different trails and I was researching the Hollywood Hills and Hollywood sign for my last book. So we did that quite frequently.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:55:50] Oh, yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:55:50] unless there's so many hiking opportunities throughout Los Angeles would probably surprise a lot of people that think it's just think it's just a concrete paradise and it is that, but it's more than that.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:56:03] Well, the hiking has kept me sane in this last crazy year of COVID.

Brad Shreve: [00:56:08] Yeah, I understand that. I think it has many, I can almost guess the answer to this one I probably shouldn't even ask it, but when it comes to writing, have you ever faced the conflict of writing once you want and writing what is marketable?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:56:25] I've always just written the books that I wanted to write. Uh, and I just can't see writing for a market, but the most commercial book I ever wrote, I felt was the book with the heterosexual woman protagonist. And that's the book that sells the least.  You just can't predict. I just think it's too hard to write a book to write something that has no meaning to you just writing in the hopes of getting published in the hopes of, fulfilling some, you know, market thing or something.

So, if I was to recommend anything to other writers, it would always be to write, read something that's important to you. It's just too, it's just too hard to waste your time on something that has no meaning for you.

Brad Shreve: [00:57:08] Yeah, there are, , groups, some of them on Facebook that teach people to look at the market. And find out what's popular and write some books really fast. And then when the market changes right more fast, and it's a great way to make a really good income. And I'm sure there's plenty of people that see this strictly as a business.

I can't even imagine doing that. it's an art and that's the part of it. I appreciate granted, we all would like to make a lot of money doing what we love to do, but to have. Training to teach people that aren't necessarily into writers, but want to be writers to earn and earn a living is really shocking to me.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:57:47] Yeah. Do the trick for me.

Brad Shreve: [00:57:51] And plus there are a lot easier ways to make a living than, than

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:57:54] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brad Shreve: [00:57:57] , it is now time for awkward question authors get okay. Yes, it's your time.  I know, you're aware we did away with it and we brought it back and I interviewed dozens of authors to get what common things do they get that are difficult to answer or what very strange things have they been asked?

And I've got a good number of them. So if you hold still   I'm going to spin the wheel while I

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:58:22] Okay.

 Brad Shreve: [00:58:27] Okay. Got an interesting one for you. Do you write sex scenes from experience or is it all from your imagination?

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:58:37] Oh, okay. That's not a bad question. You know? I would say it's imagination. Uh, it was kind of funny. I have a sex scene, which I think is actually really good. And the second book in the LA after midnight quartet. And we were talking about it in my writer's group. And they were saying that if they thought that scene was hot and that it worked really well, but one of the guys in the group, Preston weather, he said, is this anatomically possible? And  I thought, well, maybe I should try this out, but I never did. So

Brad Shreve: [00:59:11] Now you

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:12] hope that answers your question.

Brad Shreve: [00:59:14] Yeah. My mind spinning to know what this was

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:16] Joe have to read the book.

Brad Shreve: [00:59:20] definitely was the second book.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:22] It's the second in the series.

Brad Shreve: [00:59:23] Okay. I'll look it up.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:25] Okay.

Brad Shreve: [00:59:26] , you have piqued my interest. Okay. So reminder to everyone. My guest today is Steve Neil Johnson, and he wrote both the Duggar Lando mystery series and the LA after midnight quartet. And I will have plenty of links in the show notes as to how they can reach your books and your website as well.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:47] Wonderful. Thank you.

Brad Shreve: [00:59:48] Uh, thank you, Steve. It's been a pleasure having you on.

Steve Neil Johnson: [00:59:51] Okay. Thanks again.