Interview with Clifford Royal Johns

Cliff Royal JohnsClifford Royal Johns’s short story, Dog Thinks Ahead, appears in the Spring 2006 issue of Shimmer. Contact Clifford at

Questions About the Story

Where did the idea come from?
The story derived from a first sentence, which popped into my head one day when I was drinking a Mountain Dew. That first sentence defined who the character was and what his trouble was.

Editorial Note: Unfortunately, we had to change the first line! It really was terrific, but as the story developed, it didn’t quite work.

You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?
Yes, the first sentence. I’d rather you didn’t print that first sentence, because I might be able to get four or five more stories out of it before it makes it into print. Once a darling, always a darling. It’s a pretty good sentence.

How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
Several of my stories are about slackers and often from a first person point of view. I’m not a slacker myself. Really, I’m not. Not most of the time anyway. But the personality type intrigues me. I am not a slacker. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Questions About Writing

How did you celebrate your first sale?
My first sale was to Fine Woodworking. I celebrated by saying, “Well I’ll be darned. They bought it.”

Favorite book you’ve read recently?
Bingo Night at the Fire Hall by Barbara Holland

Random Questions

If you have a day job, what is it? What do you like about it?
Integrated circuit design, and writing computer aided design software for doing this. It’s actually my ideal job. I like building things, and I like solving puzzles, and I get to work with a great bunch of people. They even pay me to do it. How cool is that?

Favorite food?
Fried Spam and cheese on toast. OK, actually I prefer oatmeal with broccoli florets. Well really, it’s Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

What are some of your hobbies?
Woodworking, volleyball, dog rescue, tractors, blues harmonica and studying the peculiar.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A gentleman farmer, or at least a farmer.

Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? Please explain your answer:
All depends on your point of view.

Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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