Thursday, March 5, 2015

Author Interview: Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson
author, Just to Hear 'I Love You'

Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures)

I was born in TN and raised in TX from about 8yo on, then married a wonderful husband and traveled around on the Army’s orders for fifteen years. (My favorite place to live was our stint in Germany). We are now back to civilian life and settled in Texas with our six kids, focusing on homeschooling, helping with community organizations, and for me, writing.

Most writers are readers. What are some of the books you have on your nightstand and/or on your "must read" list?

I am currently working my way through books by Rachael Anderson – on book 2 of her series, Meet Your Match. I love her style and can’t wait to read more!  My go to novels are usually the classics—with my three favorite authors being Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Catherine Marshall.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Well, I am self-published, so that would definitely be an interesting conversation. LOL. All kidding aside though, England! I never made it there when we lived in Germany, and it is top on my list of places my husband and I would love to visit and be tourists for a few weeks…or a few month. Visiting Chatsworth is #1 on my places to visit in England list! Hubby’s is London.

What is your favorite genre to write?

Historical Regency romance. So far all of my stories have been based on Jane Austen’s characters from Pride & Prejudice, but I have a few ideas rolling around in my head for an original. Maybe once I finish the series I am currently in the middle of I will be able to write one.

What is your favorite genre to read?

It is an odd mix of classics and moderns, but usually all set in a previous era, anywhere from Georgian era through WWII. I have a high standard for stories to not just be about sex, so classics really are my go to. I love finding clean romance books that are not Amish. No offense to the Amish story writers, but it is just not a culture I get that into with books.

What is one silly fact about you?

I love singing fun songs, and would love life if it were a musical.

What got you started on your writing journey?

One of the Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) forum sites hosted a new writer’s challenge, and so I decided to try it out. I won a pretty nifty coffee mug with a fun Darcy-esque drawing and quote, and an “I <3 Darcy” bumper sticker. My husband laughed at when I pulled it out of the box. (My 14 year old daughter now has it hanging in her room – passing on the Darcy love to another generation!)

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?  Do you write steamy romance as well?

It is just my personal choice, based on my Christian beliefs and the fact that I would not want to write something my own kids cannot read or that I would be embarrassed if my mom or husband read (which they do with all my stories).

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the next year or so?

I am currently working on book 4 of a 5 book series, adapting my first very long story, Leaving Bennet Behind, into a more manageable series. Since the story follows all five Bennet sisters through their respective romances and down the aisle, I thought it would be fun to do a five part series. Each one focuses on a different sister’s romance.

I will also be joining with 5 other JAFF authors in offering a group set of novella stories all centering on the theme of flowers. My novella for this is called “Whispered Kisses”.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Writing “The End” on something that came from your own mind, and then finding that the plot bunnies for even more are still hopping happily around in your head, taunting you to open a new document and begin the process all over again.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

There are certain aspects of some characters that are bits of me – like my fear of water, heights, and horses – but on average my characters are not based on my own life or personality. If anything, they are opposite of me.

Where do your ideas come from?

Oh goodness—anywhere! I can’t watch a movie or see a funny billboard without having a fun idea pop into my head for a story line or a scene, or sometimes just a sentence. The muse never rests!

How many books have you written, and how many of those have been published?

So far, I have five published books, with at least 5 more this year already in the works. I self-publish, so once a story is completed and edited, I can get it out pretty quickly.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?

Man and woman fall in love despite whatever obstacles they perceive to be in their way. Other than that, I am game for just about any deviating path that eventually takes them to that end.

Please share about your book 

Just to Hear ‘I Love You’ is a novel variation based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

Mary Bennet’s life changes forever when a childhood accident leaves her isolated in a silent world. Her sister Elizabeth emerges as her fiercest champion and unstinting protector. When further tragedy befalls Longbourn, Aunt and Uncle Gardiner embrace their orphaned nieces into their London household. Mary and Elizabeth must face the disapprobation of London society as they endure a Season of intense scrutiny. Will Mary’s own dearest wish— just to hear ‘I love you’ —ever come to be, or will her deafness forever consign her to life apart? The sisters must face their past and Mary’s worst critic when another family’s tragedy lands directly on their doorstep. Will they both have the strength to return love from unexpected suitors?

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?

Strong, compassionate, forgiving, determined, vulnerable

What are your hero and heroine of the story like?

The Heroine, Mary Bennet, is a combination of strength and determination, as well as vulnerability. She is deaf and faces many complications that lead, eventually, to her finding love and acceptance.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

Just to Hear ‘I Love You’ gives insight into a rarely discussed subject, that of the difficulties those with disabilities have had to traverse through the ages.  Add in the sweet, romantic story of love and acceptance, and this is a book that will have you burdened for Mary’s trial, rejoicing when she overcomes, and satisfied that sometimes the hardest things life throws at us can be what sets us on the path to our own happily ever after.

Do you have a favorite character you have written so far? 

I have a few. In this story, Mary is my favorite.

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