GBB: Good afternoon Mr. Johnson. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about your science fiction series Escape 2 Earth 2012.
Larry: No problem, glad to be here.
GBB: Okay, let's get right down to it. Escape 2 Earth, that an unusual title for a book. How did you come up with it?
Larry: Well, I get asked that question a lot. It's a play on words. In the story there are two earths so by removing the word to in the title and replacing it with the number 2 I though if would get more peoples attention.
GBB: Oh, I see. While we're on the subject of words I've noticed on some of your stories you are credited as Lawrence Johnson Sr. and other times as Larry J; what's up with that?
Larry: For the past 3 years I have been asked to participate on sci-fi panels at Philcon's conventions in New Jersey. I would always run into L. A. Banks. She was a great writer who recently passed away. Ms. Banks had always given me great advice. Her real name was Leslie Esdaile Banks. How many people would remember that? It's the same with J.K. Rowlings. Lawrence Johnson Sr. is not the kind of name that sticks with you so I shortened it to Larry
GBB: Tell us about Escape 2 Earth 2012 and how the basic premise differs from most sci-fi stories about disasters or aliens etc?
Larry: A lot of sci-fi novels and movies tend to evolve around some experiment gone wrong of as you just said alien invasions and that sort of thing. Escape 2 Earth is a story about 3 men who have an alien encounter after deciphering a hidden code. They have to convince our government that planet earth will be destroyed but there's a catch actually two catches. One, they cannot reveal their source, the secret alliance with the aliens and two; there is a dangerous, manipulative alien dictator from a distant galaxy who wants to wipe out the entire human race. So you see there are some major obstacles to overcome here
GBB: Wow, that's original, I'll give you that. If this is a series aren't you kinda of giving away the end of the first book?
Larry: No, not at all. At the end of book one we know that out of 6 billion people there are survivors but if you didn't read the first book you don't know who or how many survived, or which characters live, how they survived or where they ended up. There's a reason why I called the sequel Return 2 Earth.
GBB: Okay, I see your point. You recently did a radio interview where you talked about your book vs. Roland Emmerich's 2012 the movie. You didn't seem very happy with him. Can you elaborate?
Larry: People always get this story wrong. Before 2012 Roland Emmerich had agreed to direct the remake of Fantastic Voyage. During that time I sent his office a copy of Escape 2 Earth. About a month later I received a letter from his people that basically said they were not interested. Less than 2 months after I received the letter it was announced that Mr. Emmerich had backed out of Fantastic Voyage and would do 2012 which he also co-wrote. I read somewhere that he didn't even have a script. What he presented to the studio heads was an idea.
GBB: Are you implying that he read your story and made the movie without crediting you for it?
Larry: No, that's where the controversy comes in. Although there are a few similarities Mr. Emmerich chose to go down a different path. No aliens, no space ships, no……… He's the best there is when it comes to big screen special effects but his story was practically non- existent. The movie has over 150 one star ratings on Amazon. My point was that he missed an opportunity. I have the 2012 story and he would have been the perfect person to direct it. That's what I'm saying. John Billingsley is an acquaintance of mine. I met him and his wife at a science fiction convention I was invited to a few years ago. John has a great range of acting skills. I mean the man can play practically any part. He had a very small part in the 2012 movie. In my opinion his talents were very underutilized. I told him that if I was ever given the opportunity to make Escape 2 Earth into a movie I would like to see him play the role of President Walker.
GBB: So you book must have been out for quite some time. How do you explain the resurgence? Why after all these years is it starting to gain traction again in the sci-fi world?
Larry: The answer to that question is simple. 2012 is just a few months away so anything connected to it will benefit. The similarities between what I wrote in the book and what 's been happened in the world since then is a little scary.
GBB: How do you mean?
Larry: The recent discovery of an earth-like planet, people constructing under ground bunkers, hidden messages inside crop circles, it's all in the book.
But there's more. Since the original version was released I have added 100 plus pages and had the book re-edited. My daughter has written a spin-off series. Escape 2 earth has evolved into three novels and by next year we would have released a dozen short stories.
GBB: You must be very proud of your daughter.
Larry: Yes, I am. She has been involved in one way or another since the beginning of this project.
GBB: I just have two more questions. Do you have a favorite character or scene?
Larry: Favorite character no, it's just too hard to choose but I do have two favorite chapters. Chapter 14 Charade, it takes place on the planet Lazon. There are lots of twist and turns in this story and there is a major turn in chapter fourteen. My second favorite chapter is number 19 Exodus. This chapter practically wrote it's self. I couldn't get the words down fast enough. Everything so clear, so vivid, it was like I was right there on the ship with them. The fear, the danger, the uncertainty, it was all there.
GBB: Is it true that you use religion in all of your stories?
Larry: No, from time to time you may notice a hint or reference to religion. People who are looking for religion go to church they read science fiction to be entertained. Wait; let me back up a bit. I did write a short story a couple of years ago called Dimensions in Time. It clearly had religious overtones but that was the only one.
GBB: What's on the horizon for you as far as writing goes?
Larry: Well my daughter and I have just donated books to the women's shelter and to a local high school. I am currently working on book three in the Escape 2 Earth series. It's called Earth 2 Redemption and Lauren has just begun the sequel to her first novel The Quest to Save Xanar. Since the series has grown so much we have just released Lexicon of the Spiral Galaxy. It's a free companion guide from the Escape 2 Earth series, names planets, ships, events etc.
GBB: Thank you for joining me today. Maybe you'll come back and talk to us about the rest of the books in the series.
Larry: Thank you for having me. I would be happy to.
ESCAPE 2 EARTH 2012 Amazon