Gallybeggar questionnaire – Clive S. Johnson

Many thanks to the wonderful Manchester-based writer Clive S. Johnson for taking time out of his hectic schedule to reply to my pesky questions!

Hello! Where are you right now?

Hi. I’m sitting at our old Lancashire pine kitchen dining table, looking out through an open window into the garden, the sun already baking the washing I hung out earlier. Kit, my better half, and myself live on the edge of Manchester in the UK, about a mile from the Cheshire border.

What’s the first book you remember reading (or having read to you)?

I honestly don’t remember. I do, though, have fond memories of the small library I frequented near my infants school in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Its bright and gay colours are still vivid in my mind even now, fifty years on. You’ve got to remember, this was back in the days when everything was in monochrome so I suppose such extravagance of hue and bold design made its mark.

Perhaps, when I think about it, the first ‘proper’ books I remember reading – where the text outweighed the illustrations – were the ‘Just William’ series by Richmal Crompton. I didn’t realise back then how well written they were, being no more than seven or eight, but I loved the way they sucked me in. The sure sign of a good writer I suppose. It was only much later that I recognised the many subtle adult themes and nuances they contained.

What are you reading at the moment?

Nothing currently. I read in phases, more so these days, since so many other editing and writing projects vie for my time. We’re going away on holiday in a few weeks’ time, so I have a solid fortnight of reading ahead of me in Cornwall – hopefully much of it on an empty beach under a clear blue sky, the gentle shush of waves clawing back and forth over nearby rocks.

Oh, sorry. Where was I?

Ah, yes, well, the last book I read recently was ‘Road to London’ by Adriano Bulla, a fascinating and hugely rewarding read. It opened up a world I have only limited knowledge of, that of a gay boy growing up in Italy. It’s a very personal and honest account, beautifully written and refreshingly literary in the very best sense. It’s good to see there’s still excellent experimental work being written. I highly recommend it.

Are you writing at present? And if so, what are you working on?

I’m always writing; short stories, poetry, novels. At the moment, my time’s principally taken up with my next novel, the sixth in the Dica Series – ‘Starmaker Stella’. For those who don’t know, the series is speculative fiction largely laced with mystery, but also with a little light romance. I hesitate to call it fantasy, but that’s how it does comes over in feel and setting, although at heart, strictly speaking, it’s a work of science fiction.

Why do I baulk at calling it fantasy I hear you ask. Well, firstly, there’s none of the usual formulaic ingredients associated with contemporary fantasy; there are no dragons, wizards, elves, warlocks and the like, nor are there vast battles between orcs and men. Mind you, there aren’t any spaceships, lasers or AI you’d expect from me saying it’s built upon a science fiction premise. For those of you who are familiar with Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy, Olaf Stapledon’s ‘Star Maker’ and ‘First and Last Men in London’, and maybe Lewis Caroll, Stanislaw Lem, Bronte, Dickens and the like, you might begin to see what I mean. On the other hand, you might now be well and truly confused.

As a writer, do you have any kind of regular routine? And are you superstitious about it?

I neither have a routine nor am I superstitious. I write when it feels right to write, and as much or as little as the muse graciously allows. The important thing for me is quality not quantity, and so I heavily edit as I’m writing. You can find an example of the draft first chapter of ‘Starmaker Stella’ on my blog if you interested:

Summer or winter?

Either. They both have their advantages.

Where on the webosphere can people find you?

You can get information about me and my books, see my artwork, poetry, short stories and find out where I am on the various social media, plus see what editing and formatting services I offer, through my website at

Thank you!

No, thank you for wanting asking.


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