Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meet author Mimi Johnson

Meet Mimi Johnson. I met Mimi through her husband, Steve. We work for the same company. Mimi's an incredibly talented writer, and I found myself staying up way too late to read her novel, "Gathering String." I asked Mimi if she would answer some questions and she agreed to be featured on my blog. I hope you enjoy the Q&A and read "Gathering String."   

Name: Mimi Johnson

Lives in: Herndon, VA (Suburban Washington, D.C.)

 Family: I've been married to journalist Steve Buttry since I was a teenager. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law and two adorable granddaughters. After all these years, the females finally outnumber the males when the family is all together.

Mimi Johnson's debut novel 
 Book: "Gathering String" 

How long did it take you to write "Gathering String": About 6 years. The journalism business kept changing. Lots of rewriting was involved.

  In one sentence, what is the book about? "Gathering String" is about the difficult choices people face when love and values conflict.

  Who is your favorite character in this book and why?: Sam Waterman is my favorite character, probably because he is the strongest willed. He actually gave me a hard time when I made him do certain things he didn't want to do. I never realized I could struggle with a product of my imagination before Sam. He's a difficult man.

  What did you learn from writing the book? I learned that the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own insecurity. I still have to fight it every day.

  Best piece of writing advice you've ever received: You make yourself a writer. No one else can, or will, do it for you. A creative writing instructor at Creighton University told me that and I'm ashamed to admit that I don't remember which one. But it's true.

  Book you've learned the most from: "Catcher in the Rye." When I read it in high school I finally understood what the teacher meant by "voice." Also, I learned that, as a reader, character means more to me than plot. Nothing fascinates me more than a complex character. When I read that book I learned that a story that stays with me has to have compelling character(s). The plot action is the means of revealing them.

  If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be and what would you ask him/her? I'd love to have dinner with Daphne Du Maurier. She wrote the book "Rebecca." It's a bit of a soap opera, but it's also a great read. I've always been fascinated by its construction. I'd ask her if she wrote the book working her way backward from the end to the beginning. Du Maurier's title character is a dead woman, but by the end of the book she emerges so clearly and skillfully drawn, she's more vivid than the any of characters who tell the story. I'd love to hear from Du Maurier how she put the novel together. The foreshadowing is brilliant.

  What is your favorite book?: This is a common answer, but I have to be honest. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is my all-time favorite book. I read it when I was about 12 or 13, which coincided with some key years in the Civil Rights movement. It's pitch-perfect in harmonizing writing, character and plot. I fell deeply in love with Atticus. I even imagined naming a son after him. But when the time came, even I couldn't saddle Atticus Buttry on an innocent baby. It's a book I still reread from time to time.

 Finish these sentences:

  I wish I... Cared less about what other people think. It's no way to live your life, let alone be a writer. A writer needs to tell the story that niggles and nags to be written, even if no one else gets it. Or likes it. Or buys it.

  If I knew... How much fun I'd be having in my 50s, I wouldn't have minded how fast my 40s flew by.

  I like writing because... I just can't seem to stop. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said, "I hate writing. I love having written." Writing is hard and I'm basically a lazy person. But damn, I love seeing a character come to life. It's worth all the effort.


  Twitter: @mimijohnson



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