A Farewell Tribute to Tom Johnson

Tom's Back Cover Picture

Last week, we lost a dear friend of mine and a member of the Writing to be Read author family, Tom Johnson. Tom was a multi-genre writer for most of his life, mostly pulp fiction in the traditions of the classics, but in recent years, he dedicated himself to children’s fiction, with the intentions of creating stories for today’s children which reflect old fashioned values and morals in the traditions of the stories his mother read to him as a child. Tom took part in Round 2 of my “Ask the Authors” blog series, (which will become a published book by WordCrafter Press soon), and I interviewed Tom about his children’s stories back in 2018. He had some great things to say about writing for children that may be relevant here, since the Writing to be Read theme for November is young adult and children’s fiction. With that in mind, I’m reprinting that interview in part here, (you can read the full interview here), as we remember our friend and fellow author. Tom may be gone, but his wisdom lives on. This is what writing for children meant to him.


Kaye: Although in the past, you’ve written and published many different genres, you are currently writing only children’s stories. So, let’s talk about that. Tell me a little about your stories.

Tom: My children stories are about 1k and meant as bedtime tales, and to be read in classroom or library settings. They are short stories with little morals to teach children something about life.

Kaye: Are they a series or stand alone?

Tom: They are a series, and published in anthologies about once a year. There have been four anthologies so far. I was invited to participate beginning in volume #3. The anthology is called Wire Dog Storybook. Here is the background. True story. A young girl, Ellen Walters, asked her father, David Walters, if she could have a dog, and he said, “No.” So she found an old wire hanger and shaped it to resemble a dog, and called it wire dog. David Walters was fascinated by her ingenuity and created the Wire Dog storybooks. So the stories usually feature Ellen and Wire Dog, but always Wire Dog. Five of my stories have been published so far, and I’ve written three more for the 2018 yearbook when it comes out at the end of the year.

Kaye: What age group are they aimed at?

Tom: I feel that we should begin reading to our children by age one. With that in mind, my stories are aimed at the age group of 1 to 5. However, older children will enjoy the stories, as do adults.

Kaye: What differences do you see between writing for children and writing adult fiction?

Tom: Adult fiction usually means, “no holds barred”, while writing children stories you want to stay away from violence, horror, and adult themes. Keep in mind, young children absorb what they hear quickly, and some themes could have an adverse effect on young minds. When writing for children we must keep this in mind.

Kaye: What appeals to you about writing for children?

Tom: Do you remember the old radio show for kids, Let’s Pretend ? It produced shows for children that acted out fairy tales and light adventures – nothing as harsh as today’s cartoons that are aimed at our youth. Well, I have the chance to import my love for adventure in tales easily understood by young people; children who some day may also experience that same love to pass on to their children. Stories that give our children a moral to live by, not “It’s clobbering time!” Or Pow! Bang! Boom! It’s something my mother did for me when I was little, and now I have the same opportunity, and I’m not going to pass it up.

Kaye: You have wanted to write for children since you were little and your mother used to read to you.

Tom: Oh, yes. I hope that mothers are still reading to their children. They learn at such a young age, and we’re missing an opportunity if we fail them when they’re young. They will never forget what they learn as children, it’s when their minds are growing and grasping at everything. I think one of the first words they learn is, “Why?”

Kaye: What were your favorite children’s stories?

Tom: Really, I would have to look them up in the book of fairy tales on my shelf. There were so many she read to me. Knights saving young damsels come to mind. I remember one particular fairy tale where the princess was on a glass mountain, and the young knight had to save her. She watched each day as a knight riding brown horse attempts to scale the glass mountain, then a knight on a white horse, and so on, until the final day when a knight riding a great steed scales the mountain, and we find out that he was the knight on the brown horse, the white horse, etc. It wasn’t the color of the horse, but the persistence of the knight that finally achieved the goal.

Kaye: In what ways do the stories you write emulate those favorites from your childhood?

Tom: Like the fairy tale I mentioned above, my stories will also have a similar moral – it’s not the color of the horse, or the knight’s armor, but his persistence that wins the hand of the princess. Do the right thing, for the right reason. Persevere. If you don’t succeed today, try and try again.


The stories that we hear and read in childhood often stick with us into our later years. Even though Tom wrote other fiction through the years, as he grew older, it was the stories that his mother read to him as a child that inspired him. That’s what writing children’s fiction is all about.

Tom Johnson Books

Tom’s other works included pulp, crime and science fiction stories right up there with the best, and many may be familiar with his promotions for them on Facebook. His covers seem to reach out and grab your attention.  He published over eighty books during the span of his career. In that previous interview, Tom claimed that Alien Skies was born from his most unusual inspiration and the Guns of the Black Ghost was written as a homage to Walter Gibson’s The Shadow radio drama. You can read my review of Pangaea: Eden’s Planet here.

Tom Johnson and wife Ginger

Writing was a big part of Tom’s life. It was important to him. But, Tom was more than just a talented and dedicated writer. He was also a loved life partner to his lovely wife Ginger. She was supportive of his writing, and I believe she edited some, or perhaps all of his work. With Ginger at his side, Tom lived a life doing what he loved – bringing his characters to life.

Tom, farewell. You will live on through the plethora of books and stories you’ve left us with, but you will still be greatly missed.


Are you a Tom Johnson fan? If so, feel free to leave a few words in the comments telling us what Tom meant to you, or share a memory, or just tell me which of his books is your favorite.  Thank you all for joining me in saying good-bye.

 


27 Comments on “A Farewell Tribute to Tom Johnson”

  1. Tom was a generous man, dedicated to sharing the work of so many authors. He will be sorely missed, but he left us with the memory of his passion for storytelling. I can’t imagine a better gift.

  2. I hadn’t known Tom long, but for the short while he was kind and offered me great bits of advice for my writing. Still i cried at his passing and for the huge loss to Ginger and family. I know the writing community feels like a part of us all is missing. RIP Tom xo.

    • His part in the Facebook writing communities was one reason I chose to write this post today instead of the originally scheduled one. That and the great respect I have come to have for Tom. He was always willing to do what he could for his fellow authors. Thank you for your comment Theresa.

  3. cherimem says:

    Gone far too soon. A horrid shame.

  4. Tom was a wonderful and caring man. He always gave great advice and was supportive of his fellow authors. I am saddened by his loss. He will be missed by many. His family is in my prayers.

  5. My condolences for your loss, Kaye. Tom sounds like a great writer and a lovely man.

  6. I had the pleasure of welcoming Tom to a fb group I help admin. During his time with us, he proved to be as charming, helpful, and polite a member as we could have ever hoped for. In addition to enjoying many of Tom’s pulp fiction blog posts, I’ve enjoyed reading/reviewing several of his books, and will no doubt be reading/reviewing more of them in the future … RIP Tom.xxx

    • Thank you for sharing. He was a member of the “Writing to be Read” group which I admin. as well as a member in several of the other groups I belong to, as well. Every group he belonged to benefited from his presence.

  7. Nelson says:

    This is a shock to me when I heard of his passing. Tom was the one who guided me, showed me & led me to review books, assist others with their books, and he was the first author that reviewed two of my books. Although I’m in South Africa, we became friends, chatted often. Truly a man of wisdom. RIP my friend. You will always live in my heart. Nelson Canha

  8. pennyluker says:

    I didn’t know Tom for long but enjoyed reading one of his books recently. Know he’ll be missed in the IASD community. My thoughts and prayers are with Ginger.

  9. Tom says:

    Like many others in the IASD group on Facebook, I only became acquainted with Tom and his writing in recent times. The entertainment and happiness he produced for others will live on his extensive catalogue. Sincere condolences to Ginger. RIP Tom.

  10. Tom will be missed by many of us in IASD. I did not know Tom well, but I know he was held in high regard and had no idea he had written so many books. Always so sad when a talented person leaves us. Condolences to Ginger and the family.

  11. I first met Tom when he joined “Find Indie Books Here”, and he was always the first to welcome new members when I introduced them. It was a while before he mention a health problem, and that’s when we became friends, because my daughter is a nurse and could sometimes offer suggestions. She cried for Tom too when I told her he’d gone a few weeks earlier than expected.

    Others have said everything I could about his work – I love his attitude to writing for children – but I endorse it all. He was always ready to help anyone, with anything, and yet he took some convincing to let me propose him for membership of the group mentioned by “Rudders Writing”; he didn’t think he had anything to offer!!!

    Tom underestimated himself; he was always there – except when he was in Facebook jail for sharing too many of others’ posts – always encouraging, and he introduced us to Ginger.

    “I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”

    You were loved, Tom. God bless.

    • Thank you Sarah, for your touching words. Tom did the same thing when I invited him to be on the “Ask the Authors” panel back in 2018. He said he wasn’t worthy. I was honored when he accepted my invitation. Now I’m turning that series into a book and am pleased to be able to include Tom’s contributions. I’m sorry that he won’t be here to see it.

  12. Emmanuel Bouhalakis says:

    Most sincere condolences for the passing of Mr. Johnson. He excelled in a fascinating yet difficult genre, pulp fiction. His stories will be reminding us a great era gone by and a man whose passion was to bring back detectives and G-men, thus rekindling this largely forgotten yet exciting genre.

  13. I only connected with Tom recently via Facebook. He seemed a lovely man who I would have liked to get to know better. Sorry for your loss.

  14. Khaled Talib says:

    Tom and I connected via a Facebook book group. I was fascinated by his pulp fiction works. He kindly even offered to review one of my novels on his blogsite, Pulpair. He will be missed.

  15. […] goodbye to a great author, who was known and loved in the online writing communities in my “Tribute to Tom Johnson“. Tom was originally a pulp and science fiction author, but in recent years, he’s been […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s