Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Author Interview: Elana Johnson!

The beautiful and fabulous Elana Johnson agreed to answer these questions for us regarding her new release (officially out today!) POSSESSION!

MPB: Can you briefly tell us a little about your publishing story?

EJ: Okay, so I’ve never wanted to be a writer. Let’s get that out of the way first. In fact, in high school I took the AP English test as a junior so I could skip language arts completely as a senior. In college I majored in chemistry and math before settling into elementary education. No lie.

Fast-forward a few years. Or a decade. Whatever. I was about to turn thirty, and I’d recently been through a very dark time in my life.

Writing became my flashlight. I wrote my personal history, and realized that writing could remove some of the negative emotions that were festering inside me.

When I finished the personal history, I wrote a novel. And it was completely natural to pour that angst and depression into a teenage girl. (Ha!)

Anyway, then the pitbull in me emerged. See, I’m a little OCD, and when I do something, I DO IT.

So, of course, the next step was to figure out how to publish a book. Here’s a timeline for that.

December 2007: Begin writing. Write first novel.
April 2008: Write POSSESSION
April – November 2008: Query a different book. Not a good one. My first one. Write a few more novels. Okay, maybe like 8 more.
December 2008: Shelve said book. Decide which book to revise and query next. Chose POSSESSION.
January – April 2009: Revise POSSESSION.
April – November 2009: Query POSSESSION while writing new books, blogging, etc. After a few phone calls, a few rounds of agent-requested revisions, I finally…
November 2009: Get an offer of representation!
December 2009 – January 2010: Revise some more.
February 2010: Sell POSSESSION to Simon & Schuster
March 2010 – Current day: Freak out. Blog. Tweet. Write some more. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Manage websites. Freak out.
MPB: How did you come up with the idea for how your dystopian society is set up?

After I decided I wanted to write a dystopian novel, I knew I needed a society. So I played the “What if?” game that some authors are fond of. I came up with “What if there was no free will?” and my society evolved from there. I needed a way to remove the free will; I needed a character who wanted her free will; I needed a place where there was some free will to balance the place where there is none.

I needed rules. I needed tech. I needed it all. I just sort of shoved it all in and cleaned it up later.

MPB: Possession deals with the theme of "choice". How important do you think our choices are?

Ah, excellent question. I think choices are everything. It’s through our choices that we become the way we are. Choice is everything.

MPB: What are some of your favorite reads from the last 6 months?

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa and Laura Roecker
CLARITY by Kim Harrington
BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton
THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL by Suzanne Young
THE DAY BEFORE by Lisa Schroeder

MPB: What are you working on now? / How is book 2 going?

I am not working on anything! Launching a book is like building an arc. There’s only time for one or the other. I have written and turned in (and sold!) my second book. Edits are due to get to me in July, and I plan on chillaxing until then.

MPB: What is the one thing that keeps you writing when it gets hard to be committed?

Well, now that I’m writing for publication—instead of just for fun—I have deadlines. Those keep me on track. And if I don’t have a deadline, I make one for myself so that I’ll actually get something done. Otherwise, it’s so easy to burn five hours on twitter or Facebook or blogs or TV or reading. You know?

MPB: What is your favorite snack to eat while writing?

I don’t snack while writing. I only snack during the revisions, and those require a big honking bag of sour patch kids.

MPB: See folks! I told you she was made of awesome! Thank you so much Elana! I hope POSSESSION does fabulously well, and I am very excited to see what happens next!


Shari said...

Hurray for Elana and Possession! Happy Day!

Sara B. Larson said...

Love Elana! Great interview. Thanks for sharing!