final pens

Samuel Johnson

  I could say, in a clear voice like the ring of steel, “But no man am I! You look upon a woman.” but I doubt Éowyn’s legalistic quibble would have convinced Johnson, in which case a blockhead I am, since I’ve written all my life and – save for the law – never for money. As a young child I wrote stories for my mother, mainly about flowers. As an adolescent I wrote convoluted “films” for friends in which we were, naturally, the heroines. I scribbled ideas, scenes, travelogues, poetry, anything and everything.

  When I was working, fiction took a back seat – save for pleas in mitigation and a few divorce petitions – and for some years I stopped writing altogether. That is, I stopped recording my ideas on paper, but I rarely stopped thinking or plotting to myself – often taking crappy martial arts films and rewriting them to produce half-decent female roles beyond the obligatory eye-candy and bed-partner.

  Gradually, I started scribbling again, and I wrote a number of short stories, including several of the sting-in-the-tail sort. (In 2010 I revised one of the non-stinging shorts and it brought me second place in a contest at a writing conference). At the same time I started a few chapters of various would-be novels: some vaguely historical fiction, only with invented history – fantasy without the fantastic; others, futuristic dystopias and general adventures in space.

   It was only when the law and I parted company that I started thinking about writing with intent. Being a lawyer, I found it natural to have jurists as protagonists and I went through several ideas of peripatetic galactic justice-givers.

  One of the frustrations of my career was being pretty sure people – usually husbands reluctant to pay proper maintenance – were actively lying to the court, but being unable to prove it. From a deep sense of indignation I developed the idea of jurists who could distinguish between truth and falsehood as easily as we can distinguish light and dark, and with the same murky twilight at times. And so, in January 2006, the Judge was born.

   I’ve finished The Judge of Truth and its sequel The Judge’s Man, and I've got plans for the third and fourth books of the Judge series, all set on the same world, but I’m currently taking a short break by adding the fantastic to an Italian Renaissance locale. 
 
  My other writing commitments are on SFF Chronicles – the must-go-to site for all aspiring writers of SF and fantasy – where I’m a moderator with the uninspired, if unsurprising, username of The Judge. We hold monthly short story Writing Challenges of 75 words on a given theme and genre, which I’ve somehow managed to win three times, and a quarterly Challenge of 300 words where inspiration is derived from an image, which I’ve also won with a story called Bringer of...   Please read it – and if you have any comments, please let me know, either here on on Chrons!

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