Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so happy to bring you Johnnie Alexander. Johnnie and I have met several times at conferences and have interracted regularly online almost my whole career. I have always loved my interactions with her and hope you’ll enjoy this interview. Johnnie is giving away a copy of her latest release, so read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Lately I’ve been a gal on the move! At the end of March, I packed up a U-Haul truck and my little Pontiac Vibe, coordinated travel routes with my son (who drove the truck), settled my two dogs in the car, and returned to the Sunshine State after living three years in the Memphis area.
I love road trips and this one was memorable and also, thankfully!, trouble-free. The dogs, Rugby the papillon and Griff the collie, are terrific travelers.
Though I’ve lived more years in Florida than anywhere else, I grew up in Ohio. My mom’s family, on both sides, settled there in the 1700s. I’ve often wondered why they stayed for so long—and where my own “vagabond feet” come from.
Tell us about your current release. What Hope Remembers is the third story in the Misty Willow Series. It takes place in a fictional Ohio county inspired by the places where I grew up.
Amy Somers, who appears in the previous stories as a vindictive, selfish trouble-maker, wants a fresh start. But that won’t happen unless she can forgive herself for her wrong decisions. Gabe Kendall is looking for a fresh start, too. He’s ashamed of his prison record even though he was convicted in a “wrong place at the wrong time” situation.
Both Amy and Gabe are trapped by their pasts and need to discover that the past doesn’t have to define them—they can, through God’s grace and steadfast love—look forward to a happier future.
What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? I always thought I remembered Kennedy’s assassination, and I do remember my parents being sad about an event I didn’t quite understand. But a few years ago, when Mom and I were talking about it, I learned I had combined that memory with another one. I always thought Kennedy was assassinated on the same day my mom’s elderly cocker spaniel died. Actually those events happened a few months apart.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? When I still lived on the farm outside Memphis, I pasture-lapped. The pasture sloped on all sides, and the level section—which was rather large—was the highest point in the rural neighborhood. I’d walk all around it, thinking and praying, praying and thinking. It’s amazing how traipsing around trees and along a fence while a herd of alpaca look down their noses at you can be so inspirational.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Not usually—I love the surprises that happen as the story unfolds. I do try to have a “who does what why” statement though even that can change during the writing process. I also scribble notes about two or three possible events so I have something to write toward.
However, my most recent contracts are for two cozy mysteries. The publisher requested a detailed chapter summary so for these stories I’ve done all the plotting upfront. Even so, the characters still manage to surprise me. I love that!
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.): I write the story on the computer. However, I use a small spiral notebook—an artist sketchbook (about 6” x 9”)—to scribble ideas about the characters’ greatest fears and deepest wants and possible plot points. I use this notebook throughout the writing process to take notes, brainstorm ideas, keep track of specifics, figure out timelines and ages, and for research. It’s a delightful mess and a great resource for me.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) I loved Beverly Cleary and, even though I’m not at all athletic, I read every Matt Christopher novel I could get my hands on—they’re all sports-related. I loved The Bobbsey Twins, The Hollisters, The Five Little Peppers, Pippi Longstocking, and The Secret Garden. I especially loved mysteries and biographies.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? I think there are two types of stories—the heart-tug stories and . . . well, I’m not sure what to call the second type.
My heart-tug stories are Where Treasure Hides, my WWII novel, and Where She Belongs, the first story in the Misty Willow Series. I felt something deep inside that inspired me to write both those novels.
But here’s the thing—just because the second two Misty Willow stories weren’t inspired by a “heart-tug” that doesn’t mean I didn’t care about them or that they are somehow lesser stories. It just means that the emotional connection I made with them came as part of the writing instead of preceding the writing.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I dried a newborn alpaca and watched her take her first steps. If I’d gone up to the pasture just a few minutes sooner, I would have seen the birth. I’ve also given injections to an alpaca and single-handedly shoved a troublesome pig into a dog crate.
Find Johnnie online:
Find Johnnie’s latest release:
Johnnie is giving away a copy of What Hope Remembers! If you’re in the U.S., you are entering to win a paperback copy. International readers are entering to win an ebook!
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