Noir ensconced dark themes, in my opinion have been completely underrated. The depth of which a writer can express himself within the bounds of nothing, but pure pitch requires an INSANE amount of creativity. To be honest with you, I was not familiar with the genuine Noir genre until, I was introduced to it by the publisher of my third book Cockroach Blueprint, Pablo D’Stair of (KUBOA) Arthouse Press (and yes, that is spelt and presented properly including the brackets) years ago. The work of Merrick Tull-Johnson oozes immense darkness and thought, a writer whose work is worthy spelunking. For more information on Merrick, please check him out on Instagram @merricksbooks .
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
MTJ: Most definitely, that used to be the number one problem when I first started my career as a writer. It’s only recently when I just started finishing my work! I think I got over it because I disciplined myself and I focused. I found what I liked as a writer and then I overcame my writer’s block. It’s been fun, and learning about myself and what I like made everything better.
RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?
MTJ: How did I deal with my inner critic? Good question; I looked at all I’ve accomplished, and I became more self-confident. It’s still in the back of my head obviously, but I don’t let it get to me anymore. I know what I can do, and I don’t let that inner critic get to me. I can say that inner critic hits the hardest when I have something major coming up, but other than that, it doesn’t bother me much! That inner critic used to be like, “Is it good?” I self-doubt hit me very hard when it comes to my inner critic. But when I think about all my accomplishments and the positive feedback I’ve been getting, that inner critic is damn near non-existent!
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
MTJ: No, not really! I get a certain feeling, that I cannot figure out. But once I get that feeling, I have to write it down! I plot everything out in my head from the characters to everything. I’m not big on outlining, but when it came to making a novel in a genre, I knew nothing about, I definitely had to do something other than my regular old just attack it ritual. If something comes out of it, then so be it. But I never wait for inspiration! I personally think inspiration is all a big lie. If you can’t discipline yourself to sit down and write, then you’ll never get that project done.
RMMW: As a university student, what do you feel is the most important lesson you've learned with regards to work/life balance?
MTJ: That’s still an issue I have if I’m being frank, but I try to do my schoolwork during the day.
That way, I can have time to write later on in the night. So, I guess, I learned how to manage my time (sort of), I still get distracted by my Xbox, Netflix, and Hulu.
RMMW: Tell me a little bit about Soiled Ground, what are the themes throughout?
MTJ: Soiled Grounds is special to me. Soiled Grounds was the book that made me realize how creative I can be. The themes? It’s a sci-fi noir novel with utopian and dystopian concepts. As well as classic noir themes mixed with neo-noir themes. With classic noir themes, I used Femme Fatales primarily. Everything else is neo-noir, where the rules of classic noir don’t apply. Also, utopian and dystopian themes. For utopian themes, I used the whole no crime aspect, and for dystopian themes, it’s just a city that’s been forgotten about because they never made that advanced technologically.
RMMW: What is your writing process? Do you go for the quill and parchment or right to the computer?
MTJ: My writing process is pretty simple! I make coffee and I get it done! But I do my work on the computer. Less mess, you know? And I can catch onto my mistakes easier. I like that. Especially when I get into the zone and I don’t notice them.
RMMW: Do you feel social media hinders or helps writers?
MTJ: Both! It helps for exposure and connecting to others. But the only downside is we can get distracted easily! I even fall victim to that. I think we all do. It’s helpful, but a little too entertaining for its own good; especially Twitter.
RMMW: Who are your favourite Indie writers?
MTJ: I don’t really have a favorite Indie author. I haven’t had much time to look at any to be completely honest with you.
RMMW: What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges facing writers today?
MTJ: There’s a lot! There’s procrastination, waiting for inspiration, self-doubt, fear, etc. We just have to learn how to overcome all of that. I know when I did, my mission and what I wanted to do became clearer. It was the best feeling ever. And now all there is to do is elevate. And I hope when other writers overcome those problems/frustrations, they elevate as well.
I will be rooting for you! I want all of us to win and accomplish the goals we set our mind to. There’s no better feeling. Speak everything into existence, and take the actions needed to advance in what you do.
RMMW: What is your first writing memory?
MTJ: My first memory ever memory is how I felt after my first book. I felt great; I felt so damn accomplished. I was like “I did that?” And it was only up from there! After that came book two, then three, and then recently, number four! It was amazing. I felt amazing.
RMMW: If you did not write, what would you do?
MTJ: I do not know; writing is my entire life. It’s all I know. If I didn’t, I think I’d be in a bad place mentally, because I was when I first got into writing officially. So, I’m glad I do have writing in my life.
RMMW: What do you feel are the most difficult subjects to write about? And, have you written pieces on those subjects if yes, what?
MTJ: I think the most difficult subjects to write about are the subjects that happen in real life! And have I written on them? No, I haven’t, but I’ve added a few “risqué,” scenes in my first two novels. I mean, they’re noir, and noir is very dark. I felt like it was only right to add it. It kept the story going.
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
MTJ: It would be to teleport! I love traveling, and teleporting would give me the opportunity to travel for free. It’s not a very exciting power, but traveling is expensive!