Today I am interviewing Timothy S. Johnston, author of the new science-fiction thriller, The Savage Deeps.
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DJ: Hi Timothy! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Timothy S. Johnston: Hi there, thanks for having me. This is my fifth novel and the second book in the series The Rise of Oceania. I love science fiction thrillers, and all I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember is to contribute in some way to the genre. I grew up watching science fiction films of the 1970s, reading Asimov, Pohl, Heinlein, and Poe. In many ways the genre got me through my teenage years. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.
DJ: What is The Savage Deeps about?
Timothy: It’s an espionage thriller that takes place a little over a hundred years from now. It takes place in a very real future where global warming and rising ocean levels have taken a deadly toll on the world’s populations. The climate catastrophe has forced the superpowers to look elsewhere for resources to sustain populations. In this case, the world’s oceans. Seventy percent of the world is underwater. There are untold resources in our oceans, and the concept of The Savage Deeps is that a new cold war has erupted as competition has increased underwater. There is a silent, deadly, secret war being waged in the oceans, though sometimes it’s not so silent — it flares into outright hostilities and massive submarine battles. That’s the idea behind the novel.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Savage Deeps?
Timothy: Cold war espionage thrillers like Fleming’s James Bond novels. Also Michael Crichton’s technothrillers like Sphere and Jurassic Park. I prefer my novels grounded in reality with a driving narrative that involves science in some way. It has to be integral to the plot. In this case, the quest to develop the oceans depends on new technologies to dive deeper and move faster underwater. The nations that have the best technology and weaponry will claim more resources than those that don’t, and sometimes nations will steal and go to war to gain technology they don’t have. It’s all due to the climate catastrophe we’re currently witnessing on the surface. As our crops die and as our populations explode, we’ll need new resources to sustain our nations, and the oceans are a natural next step for us.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Timothy: Truman McClusky is the star. He’s a spy living in an underwater city, and he’s very much a blue-collar guy. He’s moral but he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his city and his family — even if it means killing. He is desperate to lead his people to victory underwater, to avoid the colonial powers that threaten him. He will always consider the ramifications of his actions, and he’ll always do what he thinks is best. Sometimes, however, people do die, and he feels guilt for it every time. Such actions haunt him.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Timothy: I love the Chief of Security in this series. His name is Cliff Sim. He’s a former member of the US military, but he left the service to live underwater in the city of Trieste, where Mac is mayor. Sim is loyal to a fault. He is very dependable, and is a good character for Mac to lean on in tough times. He has an interesting backstory, though he doesn’t reveal much of it at first…
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Savage Deeps like?
Timothy: Well it takes place 100% underwater, in habitats and submarines and submersibles and seacars. Characters are often in scuba gear and are struggling to survive in this very dangerous environment. I love writing it. The setting is far more dangerous than outer space. The greater the depth, the greater the pressure, and if characters are ever in trouble underwater without an air source, they only have a few minutes to solve the problem before they’re gone. They can’t bolt to the surface for air; the bends will kill them. This ramps up tension to unbelievable levels. I love writing it.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Savage Deeps?
Timothy: The battle sequences. The fighting underwater. The hand-to-hand combat in scuba gear. Reviewers say they find themselves holding their breath while reading it. I love that.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Timothy: That it is original and satisfying, but totally based on the reality we are facing as a species today. The climate crisis. We are going to need more resources, eventually. The oceans are the natural next step, and it is a fun series to write.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Savage Deeps? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Timothy: Some themes arc across the entire series. Some themes are unique to a single book. The themes of family, freedom, and the legacy that our fathers leave for us are the overall themes of the entire series. This book is also about the sacrifices we make for the people we love. It’s also about sacrifices we make for the greater good.
DJ: Now that The Savage Deeps is released, what is next for you?
Timothy: Fatal Depth is the next book in the series. I submitted it to the publisher nearly two years ago. The good think about writing so far in advance is that I can make sure the books all “fit” together. Although they are standalone stories, they also work as an overall narrative. I hope readers enjoy the story I’m telling.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Savage Deeps that we haven’t talked about yet?
Timothy: It is everything that I love about thrillers. It’s fast paced and emotional, and action packed with a technological component integral to the story. Readers will empathize with Mac and will want him to survive and continue his quest. It’s grounded in reality. This could really happen.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Timothy: It is a very visual book. I want readers to feel as though they’ve experienced living inside a movie, experiencing everything that Mac has. I want readers to end the book breathless, exhausted because of what Mac has endured. I think they will.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Timothy: Thanks so much for having me.
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***The Savage Deeps is published by ChiZine and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
War has come to the darkest depths of the deepest oceans.
Mayor Truman McClusky of Trieste City is at war with the world’s superpowers. Laying claim to the resources of the ocean and its floor is the only way to survive in a world where global warming and rising sea levels ravage the surface. But when a Trieste City spy ends up dead—his body beaten beyond recognition—Mac realizes that his city is in mortal danger. The occupying force in Trieste knows more about his plans for independence than he thought, and they will stop at nothing to control Trieste and her people.
Mac flees with a small team that includes scientist and newcomer to the underwater city, Dr. Manesh Lazlow. Together they head for a secret base in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where they plan to create new technologies to fight the superpowers for dominance over the oceans. But the French have picked up Mac’s scent and will stop at nothing to kill him. Mac must elude the French, protect his citizens against sabotage and spycraft, and discover the identity of a spy in his midst if he is going to save his city and compete with the superpowers. But he’s just a tiny player in the grand scheme of ocean politics . . .
. . . unless he can get his new deep-sea engine working. With it he’ll be able to forge deeper than any other sub in the oceans. And if that happens, then all hell is about to break loose.
At six kilometers down.
About the Author:
Timothy S. Johnston is an award-winning writer of futuristic and contemporary mystery/thrillers. He was born in 1970 and has experienced firsthand the explosion of computer technology, the evolution of science fiction in film and television, the birth of action blockbusters, and the exponential growth of the video game industry. He reads as much Crichton, Asimov, and Christie as time permits, and he holds these three writers as his greatest creative influences. He was born to tell electrifying thrillers with elements of science and technology, and he takes pride in his love for science fiction action and horror films. He saw Alien at age 10, The Thing at age 12, and has spent countless hours watching Star Trek in syndication. He can quote Predator and The Terminator endlessly, and is currently reliving SF films from the 1980’s with his teenage daughter. He cites John Carpenter as his favorite director, Planet of the Apes as his favorite film, and Frederik Pohl’s Gateway as his favorite book.
He is dedicated to the art of telling a compelling story and contributing to the genre that has given him so much over the past four decades. He is passionate about writing and committed to inspiring others through his stories. His science fiction murder mystery The Furnace won the 2015 CYGNUS Award in the “Science Fiction Thriller” category and was shortlisted for the 2015 Science Fiction EPIC Award. All three books in his Tanner Sequence won the 2015 CLUE Award for Thriller / Suspense Novel in the “Blended Genre” category. The Freezer won the 2016 Science Fiction Epic Award and was shortlisted for the 2015 CYGNUS Award. In 2016, Timothy S. Johnston signed with ChiZine Publications to publish a brand new series. The saga is The Rise of Oceania, set underwater in the near future amidst the espionage, intrigue, and action of a Second Cold War rapidly turning hot. The books are: The War Beneath, The Savage Deeps, and Fatal Depth. The War Beneath won First Place in the 2018 GLOBAL THRILLER Awards in the Action/Adventure category, was a Finalist in the 2019 SILVER FALCHION Awards, and was a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 CLUE Awards as well as the 2018 CYGNUS Awards.
Timothy S. Johnston is a member of the following organizations: International Thriller Writers, SF Canada, Crime Writers of Canada, and the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.