Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Leaving Bennet Behind with Sarah Johnson

Hello, Dear Readers. Today, I have a special treat for you. New author, Sarah Johnson, is my guest and she agreed to an interview. I hope you will enjoy her road to writing as much as I did. Thank you Sarah, for consenting to be my guest and for answering all my questions. Your responses were delightful! 

There is also a giveaway so be sure to look for more info. Now, please welcome, Sarah Johnson, author of Leaving Bennet Behind, Volume I, Chosen. (The cover is lovely!)

How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice take root?

My love of reading began early, and by ten my favorite author was actually Louisa May Alcott. She remains one of my favorites still. As a teenager I began to expand into a much broader spectrum and Jane Austen began to overtake first place on my list. In the midst of the turmoil of the 90’s I loved the simplicity of the Regency era. The Victorian times were much more strict, and that did not appeal to me, but who can argue with those beautiful, flattering Regency style dresses?

I remember well when the ’95 miniseries came out, and though I still hold fast to my love of the ’80 miniseries above it, I did love that I saw a newfound appreciation in others for Jane Austen’s work when it was released.

I continued to love my favorite era, and read it whenever I found cheap (or free!!) books from that time period, but when my husband ran across fan fiction (dot) net it opened my universe to a vast array of wonderful stories based on my favorite author. I was in heaven! I began reading with the archived DWG stories and eventually expanded. Later, when my hubby was deployed to Korea for a year, insomnia became my nighttime companion, so I decided to work my way through all the stories listed on the JAFF index. WOW – what a task! It was a long year, but I did complete my goal. Now that so many more have been added in the years since, I need to go through it again and read the newest completed stories.

Louisa May Alcott was my favorite author as a young girl too. I agree with your thoughts on those lovely Regency dresses. My, what a task you completed in a year! I bet you had fun doing it though. Is that part of what drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?

I had my last baby and, due to a difficult delivery, I was unable to do much physically. So I was online one day poking around on DarcyandLizzy(dot)com’s forum and found a new writer’s challenge. I used to write poetry and short stories when I was in high school, but I have not written much since, and the contest piqued my interest. I went back to the original story and read P&P again just to see what I wanted to do differently, and a picture emerged in my head. It grew into a scene, which grew into the required number of words for the challenge, and then it kept on growing. By then I could not stop it and I knew I had to keep going with that story. (It eventually became the online version of ‘Leaving Bennet Behind’).

Did you have any idea that writer's challenge would lead to so much more! Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?

Outline? What is that? My betas would laugh at this concept from me. I don’t know what I am going to write until I am in the middle of it, but it always seems to work out well in the end. My mom and I did lay out a detailed story plot for one story, but so far I have not been able to work much on it. Perhaps one day I will do that – but if it is left up to me, the muse definitely leads more than an outline.

Love your response. I would probably be the same way about an outline! Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing?

Quiet – I have 6 kids and we homeschool, so I enjoy those times when the kids are working on their own school work and the house is still and I can focus on what I type. Some days are easier than others, but generally I just need quiet – and maybe some classical music playing!

I can understand the quiet. I know you have already mentioned a little about the Regency era but I would like to know more of your thoughts. What else about the Regency era is appealing to you?

The only unappealing part to me would be the things that typically don’t show up in fiction books – like the lack of bathrooms, no air conditioning, the death rates due to lack of medical advancement, the smells I am sure would be horrendous at times, and of course my complete and total fear of horses. If you ignore all those, then everything else is appealing to me. I love the dresses, the simplistic lifestyle, the music, and on and on the list goes.

Those are most certainly some unappealing parts. The simplistic lifestyle and the propriety of the time is very appealing. Tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away) 

What I love most about this story is how real the characters have become to me, each in their own unique way. It is not just about Elizabeth and Darcy, but instead it is about the two families and how they merge their lives together in so many ways. (Though this first book in the series does focus on the time span when E/D’s love blossoms, so they are a large part of this part of the story).

I like the sounds of what you love most. I look forward to reading the book. What have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?

Writing has taught me to focus on the big picture more. The details sometimes get to me, but when I step back and realize there is a bigger picture, it helps. Writing has made it easier for me to see that in my own daily life.

It would do well for me to focus more on the big picture too. Those pesky details do cause trouble sometimes, don't they? Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?

I am new to writing, but I have found my passion. The muse is constantly at work, so I doubt I will ever run out of ideas. Right now I have about 4 or 5 books rolling around that I have not even put thought on paper about. My husband supports me in this endeavor, and I love that he has been my #1 fan since day one of this new journey.

I hope you have much success with all these ideas. It sounds wonderful that your husband is so supportive. What about modern day authors, do you have a one that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about his/her writing that was an inspiration?

There are four modern authors that I love to read, though most write historical fiction, so does that count as a modern author?

I have loved Janette Oke and Lori Wick since I was a teenager. Both write basic historical romance stories, usually with an underlying Christian theme, and I have loved all the books I read from both authors. Another is Jack Cavanaugh. My dad began purchasing his books when I was younger, and I loved his style and the fact that it was historical fiction. I especially loved his ‘American Family Portrait’ series that follows each successive generation of a family from the Puritans all the way through to modern times. (I believe there are 9 books in the series, so 9 generations). I would say all three of these authors inspired me to write in a historical time period, being true to the era and yet intriguing to the modern sensibilities we have today.

Another of my favorite authors, amazingly enough not a writer of historical fiction, is Frank Peretti. I love the mystery in his stories, and I hope to one day make my own stories as intriguing as he does his – though I doubt I will ever write a modern era story as he does.

You have given me some authors to  explore. Thanks for that information. Now for a very important question, we all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?

I actually don’t so much love him as much as I understand and appreciate him. I actually am more drawn to those like Mr Bingley (which is definitely my husband). I understand Mr Darcy though, because I see a lot of myself in him. Perhaps it is just me projecting what I best understand onto the character as I read. 

Purchase at Amazon
and B&N.
Thank you again for being my guest this week, Sarah. It has been such a pleasure to get to know a little about you. I wish you much success with your book and future books. I'm happy you found your passion as that will benefit all of us!

Sarah Johnson is allowing me to host a lovely giveaway of three books, one signed paperback, US only, and two eBooks, internationally, of Volume I, Leaving Bennet Behind; Chosen.  Thank you, Sarah. To be entered leave a comment below as I always love reading your 'share in the conversation'!  Good luck to all. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway will end at midnight, June10, 2014.   

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for allowing me this opportunity Janet!

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    1. You are welcome, Sarah. I'm so happy to have you visit.

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  2. I agree with about the 1980 miniseries, I prefer it to the 1995 one. I started watching the 1995 one again recently but could I couldn't cope with the portrayal of Mrs Bennet - I felt it was wrong and not well acted.

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

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  3. Six children and you homeschool and write? Wow! You wore me out and I just had to lay down and read for a bit after thinking of the many things you have to do each day. Thank you for the insight into your writing and the giveaway. Jdawnking at gmail dot com

    Great interview questions, Janet. As always!

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  4. Loved getting Sarah's background story of how she came to Austen and writing. Interesting how its never just one small thing. I was a huge Alcott fan as a girl too and that's also when I picked up Pride & Prejudice to read for the first time. Look froward to reading Sarah's book.

    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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  5. I always like to hear about how people came to love Austen! I've always liked older books and I read Louisa May Alcott when I was a child too, the Little Women books and the Eight Cousins ones, although my favourite author was probably L M Montgomery. You make me feel a bit lazy though, because there is no way I could manage to home school 6 children and still do other things! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity, I'd like to enter for the e-book please
    frawli1978 at gmail dot com

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  6. I already have the book so no need for the giveaway. Just wanted to say I enjoyed the interview, Sarah. I still can't believe all you do with 6 kids at home. It amazes me. Good luck with the book & congratulations!

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  7. lol thanks y'all!! My hubby was in the Army for 15 years, so I got used to doing a lot with the kids alone. When he was medically discharged a couple of years ago it changed our whole world. Now he is home. In fact, the last 18 months he has been out of work, so he was able to take over things while I wrote. I am definitely NOT a supermom!! As I type this, the kids are running around and getting things semi-cleaned up so we can get the cranky 2yo down for a much needed nap. Now that my hubby has a new job, we will have to find a new normal for our routine. I am sure I won't get as much writing time in, but it will work out!

    I am excited to be beginning the editing process for the second book of the Leaving Bennet Behind series. I hope to have it out later this year, but we will see if that is possible. (I have two other stories to finish before I can put them aside to really focus solely on the rest of the series). For those who have read the online version of this story, these books will be quite different...in content as well as timeline for certain events. I am excited to take this story where I think it wanted to go all along.

    Thanks everyone!

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  8. lovely interview Janet. Sarah six children and home schooled too wow! Really interesting answers, I also like the 1980's mini series. Outline what's that, too funny! Please do not enter me in the giveaway as I already won this book, thanks Sarah it is one of my June reads to review.

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    1. Awesome! Can't wait to hear your review of it! Let me know when you review it and I will cross post your review on my blog. (peculiar_lady2@yahoo.com)

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  9. I haven't heard about Sarah Johnson until last week when her book, Chosen was highlighted as a giveaway on The Darcy Obsession blog. I had an enjoyable time getting to know a new author so thanks ladies for the informative interview. I'm international btw so please enter me for e-book.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. :D Thanks! This is my first published book, but I have been around the JAFF forums for many years. This story just begged to be published though, so I had to go that route!

      Good luck with the contest!

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  10. Wonderful interview. I am intrigued by this unique twist. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  11. Thank you, ladies, for this lovely interview! I always love to discover new authors and their love for Jane Austen :) Thanks for the giveaway. I'm international so e-book copy for me ;)

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  12. Thank you for such an enjoyable interview, ladies. Sarah, I take my hat off to you for everything you're achieving in your life. Your book sounds wonderful and it would be amazing to win a copy, if I'm so lucky as to be chosen. I'm in the UK so it would have to be the e-book for me.

    angmardee (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. Thanks! It is a lot to take on, but it is a fun journey.

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  13. Loved the interview! I now have even more things to explore!

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  14. Loved your interview. Your book sounds like it will be a fun read. Thanks for doing a giveaway.

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  15. It is too late to enter

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