You know that feeling you get sometimes when as the more you learn about a person the more you like them? That’s the feeling I got over and over as I went through this interview with Amanda, known generally in the book world as A.M. Johnson. As you know, I hadn’t read any of Johnson’s work prior to the beginning of this month. She, and her work, were a completely unknown entity to me. Now, we’re mid-way through the month and as I read, or chat with her, or see her posts on Facebook or other social media, I keep finding myself wondering “How did I not know this marvellous lady and writer sooner???”
I’m sure you’re saying to your screen – “you love books and writing and people who write LD, of course you like her!” but I promise, it’s not just that. As I’ve gotten to know her bit by bit these past few weeks, I’ve been happily impressed and surprised by all the facets that I’ve discovered. We are, all of us, ever evolving individuals and I’d like to think that the person – writer, reader, proud mom, etc – that I’ve been finding Amanda to be, is someone that I want to keep within my circle of peers as we go forward.
So now, without waxing on (any more) and boring you to tears, allow me to share the this and that facts about the Ups, Downs, Ins & Outs’ December FAOM: Amanda, A.M. Johnson.
Every writer has their own reasons for doing what they do and for how they do it. Some are very specific and deviation can not be tolerated, others are completely laid back and free-spirited with their process. But every single author I’ve talked to, myself included, has their own system. For that reason, I often like to ask…
Discussing Writing: why, how and quirks…
[LDF] Why (or how) did you decide to be a writer?
[AMJ] I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was little. In Third grade my teacher had us rewrite “Sleeping Beauty” and I guess I just fell in love with it. As an adult it has become a way to clear my head, put my “voices” down on paper.
[LDF] When you started writing what was your goal?
[AMJ] For me it was just to finish the book. LOL I started a fantasy book ages ago, and a memoir, so when I sat down to start Still Life, my goal was to actually finish and self-pub it.
[LDF] Do you write every day? Do you have a daily goal when writing?
[AMJ] I try to write maybe 2 to 3 nights a week. I like to finish a chapter a night, about 1500-4000 words depending on whether or not it’s a “big” moment, or a bridge, or development.
[LDF] What does a typical writing day look like for you?
[AMJ] I write, for now, at night. Typically. My days are filled with running the kids back and forth to school, house work, hockey practice, skate practice, and then once the kids are in bed, I shower, relax and listen to music, IE Bon Iver, Nov Amor, Broods, and then write until about 3 am.
[LDF] So do you listen to music while you’re writing? Do you make/use playlists to help keep you inspired or focused on the story or scenes you’re writing?
[AMJ] I am obsessed with making playlists; every book I have written or have planned has a playlist on Spotify. I listen to music before I write, but if I listen while I write it’s usually instrumental.
[LDF] Do you have a process you have to follow, items you have to have with you, or other “superstitious” or good luck type of things that help you while writing?
[AMJ] I have to have Facebook messenger up so I can PM my friend for moral support if need be, I have my amethyst crystals by the computer, and I have to have water and like sprees or a snack food, It used to be Oreos, lol, but I gained 25lbs last year doing that, and now that I lost it I don’t want it back LOL
[LDF] When you’re writing do you drink coffee, tea, water, soda, wine?
[AMJ] I can’t drink alcohol when I write or I get too introspective and poetic and sometimes that isn’t “in character” or a good thing ha!! So water or tea.
But author, writers, (cough) bloggers, we’re just regular people too. We ponder the ridiculous. We wonder about the “what if’s” in life. We dream (obviously) and, just like every other Joe or Jane out there, we hope. It’s in that light that I always ask a couple strange but (sometimes) enlightening questions that don’t always seem to go with the rest.
Looking Back, Sideways, and Up & Down…
[LDF] When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
[AMJ] I wanted to be the person who restores paintings, or an English professor.
[LDF] If you could go anywhere in the world on an all-expenses paid vacation, where would you want to go?
[AMJ] Ireland and Italy.
[LDF] If someone gifted you $1,000,000 tomorrow, name three things you would do with it?
[AMJ] Pay off my debt/invest, donate a portion, and move to Vermont and buy a cider farm.
And, obviously, it would be silly to waste an opportunity for frank 1-on-1 talk time with any author and not ask about the books they’ve written, are writing, or will write. Right?
Talking Books and Moving Foreward…
[LDF] Looking at your booklist you’ve written, or are writing, a couple different series as well as a couple stand-alone novels. As the ideas for those stories came to you, how did you decide (or know) that ‘story A’ would be the first in a series or that ‘story B’ is the whole story all by itself?
[AMJ] Still Life was supposed to be a stand-alone, but I fell in love with the secondary characters and decided to make it a series. For my Avenues Series. I knew Possession had to be first. Declan was kind of the driving force for his brothers choices to some extent, and I felt that the audience needed to understand him, Declan, to understand why.
I have mostly stand-alone novels planned for the next little bit, and I think I like doing stand-alones because it gives me the opportunity to write about more than one “world”.
[LDF] The Avenues Ink series now has three books, is there more? How many?
[AMJ] Avenues will have three books for now. I have a coming of age duet (Twin Hearts) Let There Be Light and Seven Shades of You planned for next year, based on spin off characters, and maybe in 2019 a character from Poet “Maria” may get a standalone. As for now though, that is all I have planned for the Avenues characters.
[LDF] Is the Forever Still series complete or do you see yourself going back to it and adding more books to the story?
[AMJ] I have a stand-alone planned for two of the main character’s children, Annie and Lyric. Maybe Sailor and Thomas as well. I’d love to write these couples, but sometimes it’s hard to go back. =)
[LDF] You released Beneath the Vine as ‘A.M. Johnson writing as Lillian Bryant’ as opposed to simply releasing it as and under the A.M. Johnson banner. I know many authors who write using a couple different pen names, some are very open about them, and others aren’t. Was there a specific reason for the difference and did you consider keeping Lillian Bryant as a completely separate writing entity?
[AMJ] I originally chose the pen name because BTV and Pressure were erotica and I didn’t want those titles to be confused with my contemporary works. I feel like erotica and contemporary romance bleed too much together these days. I wrote Pressure first (though it is no longer available for purchase) under Lillian alone, but I had a reader message me who also read AM Johnson stuff, and when she called me Lillian I felt like a liar, lol, and running two identities on social media is way more work than I had thought. So when I released BTV, I released as AM Johnson writing as Lillian so people would know it was me, but that this book was darker, and erotica. I think when/if I write erotica from this point it will just say AM Johnson but have “A LB Novel” under the name. I want to write YA one day and I guess, as an author, you have to be careful about the brand your name is under you know.
[LDF] Which book/story did you find yourself struggling with the most during writing?
[AMJ] Sacred Hart. This book was very hard for me emotionally. I struggled with my choice for an ending, and after a lot of soul searching, I chose to go a different route than what I had planned, and it changed the entire course of the story for me. But I felt I had to write what was real in my heart and not worry about the consequences. I had a bit of criticism for how I ended it, but I feel like it was true to the story and life, and at the end of the day, realism and hope are the fundamentals of what I try to write.
[LDF] Of all the characters you’ve written so far, who is your favorite?
[AMJ] GADS!!! I can’t pick LOL. (For men) I think Declan and Ryan are my fav. But the guy I am writing now, Mark Carmelo, hockey star, has been a blast. He’s much lighter than what I usually write so it has been so much fun and very different. But honestly, if you ask me this question in a few months I’ll probably tell you it’s the character I am writing then. I fall very much in love with my characters. Female though? Maggie from Sacred Hart is hands down my fav.
[LDF] What book/story has been your favorite to write so far?
[AMJ] My top favorite would have to be Possession. It challenged me mentally and I really got to use my poetic voice a lot in that book, which was fun. I’m currently writing a sports romance called Breakaway (Hockey) and I have to say this book so far has been a total blast.
[LDF] If you had to identify your writing with a single kind of classification what would it be? And would your different books/series fall under different headings?
[AMJ] Forever Still would be love at first sight for the first two, and friends to lovers for Still Surviving. I think for the Avenues Ink books and Sacred Hart, they would be considered second chance stories. I am a huge fan of second chances.
[LDF] And finally, the ever-important question of the day: what’s next for A.M. Johnson?
[AMJ] Next year I am hoping to get the Twins Heart duet out as well as my 1st hockey romance Breakaway. After that I have no idea. I have been working on a literary fiction novel for a while now as well, and I hope to publish it this coming year of 2019. I know a lot of the BTV fans are awaiting Alexander’s book, and though I write very little erotica now, I think I would love to find his voice again and make that happen. My dream is to be traditionally published, with an agent, but hell, I’m so freaking lucky to have what I have, so I smile, and keep on doing what I love.
This past year was a very hard year for me health wise, so though I might slow down a bit, I’m still working hard =)
There you have it. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, or if you’ve followed my FB page or Twitter, you probably have a good idea of why I’ve come to like Amanda (the author AND the writer) so very much. And that’s entirely besides the point that I’ve fallen in love with both her books I’ve read so far this month.
If you’re joining us for the first time and have missed the earlier posts about Johnson, you may want to check out these:
Johnson’s Author Profile – including links for all the ways to find, fan and follow her online.
When I look at the books of the Avenues Ink series.
And where I introduce the December FAOM Giveaway. If you click nothing else, click this link because you are not going to want to miss out on this prize!!!
Enjoy Folks, and as always Happy Reading!!