Interviews With The Authors

Wentworth M. Johnson

Q. When did you start writing and what made you have this urge or wish?

A. As a child I hated reading, for it seemed far too much work for such little return. My paternal grandmother, who had had a classical education, tried to force upon me the wonders of the written word. Poor old girl tried everything from murder to cartoons. I spitefully ignored her and continued with my ignorant bliss until, one day, I accidentally found a sketchbook in which my father, as a child, had drawn his depiction of the First World War. The need to tell stories was born.

As time passed, I needed to add words to my drawings and henceforth discovered the written word far more descriptive than drawings. I wrote my first real story for a school project and had it published in some child’s magazine. Onward and upward, mostly hand written, unpublished but not unread. Friends and relatives got great giggles from the scripts, the only reward I needed.

With the advent of computers I managed to ‘save’ my stories and also to polish them and edit them into proper works. My first book was a guide to English public houses. Then I managed to get a novel published in 1996. My greatest thrill was discovering Arthur Wainwright and e-booksonline… at last a place I could share my tales with a larger audience.

 

Q. How many articles, books, stories have you had published and where? (Names of magazines etc.)

A. My first publication was for a children’s paper… so long ago, I can’t remember the name. It was a science fiction story, which I’m sure was very ill informed. My interests were always somewhat scientific. At school I was known as the Prof. In the 1980’s I wrote for ‘Channel 99’ an international computer users’ group newsletter… receiving acclaim from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, America and even Brazil. In the 1990s, I wrote monthly articles for the ‘Hamilton Reporter’. On publishing my first book, I concentrated all my efforts into producing the world’s greatest story, which I’m sure I eventually will do. I have written more stories than I can remember; it must be in the hundreds.

My life, even as a child, has been wild, rebellious and exciting. I’ve been there, seen it and done it. My father worked for a branch of the British government and once took me on a mission to collect a shot-down German ‘plane. I shall never forget the wonder of meeting this beautiful blond gentleman with the strange accent. He handed my father a gun and surrendered himself. I think this must be the event that made me want so much to write the perfect story.

Q. A little bit about your background. (Age, schooling, present employment, unusual previous jobs?)

A. Educationally my grandmother knew everything; she played the piano professionally, she spoke with perfection… pronouncing her ‘H’ in where, and when. This turned my stomach and made me wish to be the utmost in ignorance. When it came to the 11+ I sat and refused to answer any questions and obtaining the perfect score of zero. A true rebel, I joined the North Town Gang and became their armourer, making the bombs necessary to maintain supremacy. How no one got killed can only be luck. After a few run-ins with the law I suddenly saw the light. I attended two schools and worked day and night to get into the Royal Air Force.

Eventually I entered the RAF Boy Entrant scheme and quickly caught up on my lost education. Extra tuition and classes. I couldn’t get enough of it. Although I had no love for my grandmother I had inherited her brain. Her father had been a playwright, William Bourne, and his blood ran through my veins. The air force became my greatest teacher and the most terrible and the most wonderful things happened to me in those twelve years. With the air force I travelled the world. I sailed the South China Sea and hunted pirates in the tropical waters, and flew with 34 Squadron. Along with my wife we lived in and visited over 22 different countries.

The world seemed quiet after military service but even then it gave me insight into work open only to a few. I worked in Canada on secret projects producing and testing weapons for the British Navy and the US army. Still the rebel, I once halted a multi-million dollar project because of an argument with my boss, then single-handedly solved the problem with one of the weapons.

Still arguing with dunderheaded officials I walked out and straight into a job with CHCH-TV, a job I loved and settled down to for twenty-eight years until I retired in August of 2000

I have seen both sides of all the coins. Both the beauty of art and human understanding and the terror of death and destruction. Brave men who, in the face of unbelievable odds, smiled… and cowards who ran and hid. I have been in that situation where God was so close you could feel his presence. Four times I have shaken hands with the angel of death and somehow walked away.

Q. Hobbies (Anything exciting about them?)

A. In my early days I built flying model aeroplanes. I think I must have built a model of every known type of plane and some more besides. They all crashed eventually. At school I built a Dyna-jet motor in the metal shop. This turned into a science project. Unfortunately, I very nearly got expelled through this endeavour. The damn thing would not run. I tried everything, and hundreds of modifications. Unfortunately it did eventually start and developed immense thrust. As a result, it took off, carrrying a science desk through a window doing many thousand pounds of damage to the building.

Whilst in the air force and stationed in the North Midlands, I took up flying as a hobby. One particular day we were over Abergavenny at some twenty thousand feet when the starboard engine exploded. Oil and crap flew everywhere and a stall siren sounded. The pilot turned to me and said calmly. "You’d better prepare to bail out." It was then that I discovered three things very important to me. Firstly, there are two kinds of fear; ‘Hapless panic’ and ‘something you can put aside for another day.’ The second was I discovered was I had no fear of death, and the third was that I was terrified of heights. Calmly, I told the pilot that I’d stay by his side no matter what. We made it down safely.

Q. Wishes or ambitions?

A. I suppose my ambition is to please people. I’ve seen enough death and destruction. I’ve had plenty of excitement. Now I prefer to live in my own pretend world and hope that this gives others some kind of thrill. I don’t like stories or films about aeroplanes. When I see these, my heart bleeds for those who suffered and died in the air. My mother often said that I was the kind of person who would accidentally fall down a sewer and come up with a handful of gold. I believe if one’s heart is pure then your actions must be forgivable.

Apart from writing, I read. I usually read one to two books per month. I wish I could write that many.

Back to interviews page

 
 

« return to home page