Friday, June 10, 2016

Interview: Lana Wood Johnson

Hi everyone! I'm starting a new series in which I interview fellow unpublished or newly published writers and ask them about their writing. The goal is for y'all to make some new connections and get to know some other authors.

Today's spotlighted writer is Lana Wood Johnson! Here's a little bit about her:

Often mistaken for Google, Lana Wood Johnson knows a little bit about everything and a whole lot about nothing. When not writing YA novels, she helps businesses with their smartphones and teens in crisis on a volunteer text line. She lives with her husband and two very strange English Bulldogs in Minnesota, but is more often found on Twitter @muliebris.

All right! Let's get started!

1.     And the dreaded, standard first question! When did you start writing? 
This is kind of complicated. When I was a teen I wrote the Adventures of Flagostes and Erocindanda which was a purple cat and a blue dog and has been lost to the ages so I don't acknowledge it exists.
Then, in college, I was a member of the AmberMUSH community that did online roleplay and spawned many successful writing and game design careers. Thus it's where I got the idea that I COULD be a writer.
I didn't actually start writing until about 8 years ago when I needed a creative outlet from a very stressful job.

2.     What was your first MS about? 
NECESSITY is a YA Contemporary Fantasy about a girl who discovers she's the norn responsible for manipulating the future and, more importantly changing the past so the future turns out the way it needs to.
I wrote it to be part of a bigger story about Ragnarok, and the new generation of gods that are going to take over the when the old gods die and other giant things happen, figuring that if I started in our world it would be easier than going straight into the high fantasy I love.

3.     What is your current MS about, and why do you love it? 
My current MS is not even a little bit fantasy. It's a YA Contemp novel told entirely through the text messages between the two main characters. Martin texts his entire class trying to prove a point about a test, but Haley proves him wrong. As they start forming a friendship that only exists in their text messages he realizes that she thinks he's actually the cousin he shares a name with and that she actually hates him.
I love it because it's in a very comfortable format. I'm writing it entirely as a text transcript and the two characters are coming out quite adorable and fun. It's fluffy, sweet, and totally different from anything I've written.

4.     Do you have a new shiny that’s distracting you from your current project? How do you keep your focus?
Because I'm writing a story that's outside my norm, and basically entirely dialogue, my brain is starting to regain the confidence it's lost. So now it wants to play with tropes and mix up genres.
I've always liked writing from characters that don't normally get a perspective or seem to really be the main characters of their own story. So the idea that I'm playing with on the side is essentially a kid who got kicked out of "Hogwarts" and has to go back to a traditional high school. Alternately, a horror story set in an alt-world with magic.

5.     What are some things you love that usually end up in your MSs? 
My favorite things to write are my MCs talking to someone who understand their genuine self. The kind of conversation that is just right whether the character realizes the implications of it or not.
Almost every book has one of those scenes whether it's with a love interest, a sibling, or a really close friend.

6.     Which fictional character would be your best friend? 
This is a tough one. Sometimes I think my real best friend is a fictional character because we met online playing our own fictional characters. She was a long haired pirate named Cosette and I was a bored trophy wife named Milly and in some ways we're still kind of those characters.

7.     What authors would you say have most influenced your writing?
I'm most drawn to the strange fantasy that was popular right around the time I was born. Roger Zelazny and Patricia McKillip being two of those authors, but like any good YA Fanticist, Tamora Pierce and Madeline L'Engle have clear hands in the kind of characters and stories I write.

8.     Where’s your favorite place to connect with other authors?
Twitter, hands down. I'm trying to get myself out in public at real conferences and conventions, but Twitter is the place I became a writer and got the confidence that I can actually tell people stories for money.

9.     What else do you like to do besides writing? 
I am starting to do real things besides writing! My dayjob involves cellphones, data analysis, and process development, but now I've started volunteering at a local teen crisis text line and am thinking of changing my dayjob to something closer to that.
Otherwise I'm addicted to movies and TV, though for TV I lean K-Drama not American and for movies I lean RomCom in general.

10.  Favorite GIF? 
Confession: I do not GIF.
My brain doesn't work in GIFs. I am a word person not a picture person. I thought it was a generational thing, but I'm beginning to think it's actually genetic! My grandmother lost her ability to speak in sentences when she developed dementia, so spelled EVERYTHING.
I think words are in my blood.

I'd sure say so! Thanks for joining us, Lana! Happy Writing!! 

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