This week I am featuring YA/NA author S.M. Johnston whose debut novel Sleeper has just released.
Sleeper by S.M. Johnston
A new heart should mean new life, not a living nightmare.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.
Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.
Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK
Interview with S.M Johnston
Why did you decide to become an author?
For years I had fooled around with writing in various forms. A few times it was to deal with significant events in my life, like when a friend committed suicide. I took it more as a hobby until I started reading with my son when he was younger and thought maybe I could do that. A friend asked to read some of my short stories and then became my alpha reader for SLEEPER. And that’s when I started becoming more series.How do you balance writing with other things in your life?
That’s a constant struggle. I take my laptop to work with me and try to write on my lunch breaks. On weekends I try to fit some time in as well. Between my day job and my family I have very little time. But when I say to my husband that I need to set some time aside, he’ll look after the kids so I can write. When I was writing SLEEPER my husband was a lifeguard and it was fantastic as the whole family would join him at the beach and I would get some time to write there, away from the internet and other distractions.What is your favourite thing about being an author?
I love the creative outlet. My characters are only limited by my imagination, which I think is why I’ve gravitated towards speculative fiction more than anything else. When I go through my plots with my husband he’s stunned at how out-there they are and wonders how I came up with them, but for me it’s just part of my natural thought pattern (I’m a weirdo and proud).What are your favourite books?
I love Across The Universe series. I call it the YA version of 1984. Great social commentary, but set in space. The grittiness of The Curse Workers series really got to me as well. I loved the alternative history element. It’s also the series that convinced me to write first person/present tense. I’m also a sucker for paranormal romance like Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins. Who doesn’t love a bad boy? The Time Travellers Wife is another fav. I was so addicted to it that I could hardly put it down. I also devour the Lux Series. I could go on as I love so many books.Are there any books/authors that inspired you to write?
The Deltora Quest series was definitely one where I thought I could do something like that, though it turns out I’ve written something completely different. Initially I wanted to write books for my son, but it turns out I suck at writing Middle Grade. However, he’s a teen now and I’ve got a couple of books in the works with him in mind.Describe your book in one sentence.
A female Captain America, but doesn’t know it, discovers love-at-first-sight is anything but a fairy tale.Where did you get the idea for Sleeper, did anything inspire you to write it?
I came up with the twist ending first and it all hinged around two people meeting: Mishca and Colin. It was a ‘What if’ scenario for me. What if a meet b? (Sorry can’t explain more as it will give it away). Then I constructed the rest of the plot to get Mishca and Colin to meet then the fall out around it.What made you decide to write a New Adult novel?
I hadn’t even heard of New Adult when I wrote SLEEPER. In Australia it would probably still be classified as Young Adult. I just knew that Mishca would have just finished school and been in her first year at university and by the time it was ready for publication New Adult was a thing. I write whatever story is calling to me and worry about the category and genre later.What would you say makes your book unique and worth reading?
I think the fact that it’s a non-contemporary New Adult sets it apart to a degree. But one thing I love about it is the twist. The hints are there, though so far no one has just the ending. In fact I’ve had it described by an editor as a ‘gasp out loud’ moment. But if you read it for a second time, you’ll be kicking yourself at the clues you missed (though I am really mean and put some red herrings around). I know other people have enjoyed the setting and the language. I’d been told books set in Australia don’t sell well, but they’re probably the same people who didn’t see New Adult coming. Readers think very globally now days and they want books that are set in different countries, so I think that adds to the appeal.Is there any specific message you wanted to convey in the book?
Originally it was meant to be a not-so-simple love story, and then it became a love-gone-wrong story. Once I’d finished it, I realised it also looks at what it means to be human and how strong can the bonds of love be.What are your plans for future books?
At the moment I have three more books in the Toy Soldier Series planned. I’ve just finished a futuristic YA Sci-fi where men are extinct and women have created Utopia, which I need to find a home for. Then I’m working on a co-author YA Sci-Fi, a New Adult Speculative Fiction (which is the novel version of a short story that was runner-up in the Australian Literary Review’s YA short story competition) and a YA contemporary. My plot bunny list is HUGE, so hopefully one day I’ll be able to write fulltime and get all the ideas out of my head and into completed stories.Do you have any hobbies and Interests unrelated to books?
I love cats, in particular Nermal my Himalyan Persian. Gaming is another thing I love, though I have to play the kids games to get a go on the console.Would you ever consider putting these into any of your books?
I put Smelly Belly in SLEEPER, which is a Himalayan Persian of mine who passed away a few years ago. One of my plot bunnies is around gaming as well. I really hope I get to write that one soon.
FUN STUFFIf you could meet any one author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I would love to met Beth Revis. I adore that she writes such smart YA.Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
When I was younger I was convinced that I was allergic to pineapple because my mum was…of course I wasn’t.What is your favourite food?
Anything spicy. I love chillies and anything that will make my eyes water.What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
There’s nothing outlandish for me. I like to do little spontaneous things on a regular basis. But I am going to go feed stingrays and sharks this week, so that will probably top the list.If you could be any supernatural creature which would you choose?
A Pegasus so I could fly (sorry, I know it’s a bit more fantasy than supernatural).
About the Author
Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review's Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.