I first thought of Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb over six years ago. It had been a few years since I had worked on any fiction and I thought it was about time to take another shot. Having read so many great fantasy books for younger readers–by Rowling and Riordan and Nix and Colfer and Gaiman and others–I decided to try to write one of my own. So I just started tapping out the words on my laptop. The very first paragraph described the eyeless ghost warrior Burilgi charging through a thunderstorm with his troop of wraiths. And that never changed.
But so much else in the book did. Johnny Graphic himself evolved from a shallow kid without much personality to an energetic young man of strong character who knows just what he wants and has the guts to grab for it. He wants very much to live in a grown-up world, but along the way learns how hard it can be.
His sister Melanie started with an almost equal role. I was sorry to cut her back, but it wasn’t her story that needed telling–it was Johnny’s.
When I first started writing the book, Johnny had no one whom he could confide in, who would be honest with him. That’s when I realized he needed a best friend and I created his “honorary cousin” Nina Bain, nicknamed “Sparks.”
For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what I wanted the villain to be like. Why, I wondered, did he do the things he did? The bad guy with his dastardly scheme, after all, is the force that drives a good story. If you don’t get your villain right, you won’t get your story right. After all, if there was no Voldemort, what would Harry Potter do?
Johnny Graphic has been through at least nine revisions, most of them in the last year and a half. It’s been a long, hard process, but I’ve loved every minute of it. And now it’s time for Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb to fly out into the world. Which may be Johnny’s greatest adventure of all.
D. R. Martin