Q and A with Lissa Halls Johnson
She will be teaching “I Was Blind, But Now I See. Self-Editing: Illuminating and Fixing Common Mistakes” and “But I Thought I Was Showing! The Difference Between Show and Tell,” in addition to speaking at the St. Davids banquet on Saturday evening.
Q: Lissa, tell us something about your background.
A: I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles known as Eagle Rock. I couldn’t wait to get out of Los Angeles, so moved north as an adult. I lived in Northern California for many years until I migrated to Colorado. I loved Colorado, but God had other plans. Like moving us to Arkansas. Arkansas. We couldn’t believe God would do that to us. And then we fell in love with living in the country outside a small town in spite of ticks, chiggers, snakes, and tornadoes. But, our North Carolina daughter (who graduated from Grove City College) had a baby, and that was it. We now live on the East Coast to be near the grandbabies. Don’t ask about them. You’ll be sorry.
Q: What was one of your favorite books as a child?
A: I LOVED A Wrinkle in Time. When I was nine, I closed it and decided that I wanted to grow up and be a writer just like her. I also loved King of the Wind, Black Stallion, and Misty of Chincoteague.
Q: Have you ever visited the home of a famous writer, and if so, whose was it? Would you recommend such a trip to others?
A: Hah! I did many years ago. But I can’t remember who it was! So, I guess it wasn’t memorable enough to recommend.
Q: What book are you currently reading for pleasure?
A: My sister recommended a book I never would have picked up: Ready Player One. I really liked it (listened to it on audio). In print I just finished reading Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos. I’m trying to pick up something else, but keep setting the books aside, not sure what really hits the spot at this moment.
Q: What animal do you most identify with as a writer and why?
A: Right now I’d say a carousel horse. Up and down, up and down, around and around, always busy but never really getting anywhere. I’ve always loved the beauty of carousel horses—the flying manes, prancing hooves, fierce set to their face and eyes. And I will go out of my way to ride a carousel—even alone. But honestly, I want to get off this particular carousel and find my way back to the real road.
Q: Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between?
A: Introvert. But I was raised in an extroverted family, so I learned how to survive in that world. But put me in a large group of people where I don’t have a purpose, and all I want to do is sit in a corner and read. I find strength in being alone or with very few others at a time. I could be a hermit forever and have to force myself to be around people.
Q: Can you share a funny or embarrassing story about a day in your writing life?
A: Oh my! Which to choose! There are so many. Like when I was on the phone with an editor and had to excuse myself to capture some escaped horses and return them to their pasture. Or when I was busy with a deadline, and my two-year-old stood on the opposite side of my desk—which was a picture window facing our neighborhood cul-de-sac—and decided to do her booty-duty while standing there, and it was all smushed against the window. Or that my kids would sit at the foot of the printer, reading pages of my middle-grade book as they came spooling out one at a time.
Q: What advice would you give attendees to help them make the most of their time at a writers’ conference?
A: Take good notes. Listen well. Sit next to a faculty member or writer at a meal just to pick their brain and ask questions. It’s quite all right. Really. Speak with the teachers and find out which classes will best suit your needs.
Q: What are you most looking forward to during your faculty stint at St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this June?
A: Okay, so this might sound like I’m buttering you all up. But I love writers’ conferences because I love meeting, instructing, and encouraging writers. I love the idea of helping others so they can understand the process of writing better than I did when I started. I wish I had been able to take my classes back when I was a beginner. But I don’t do well at walking up to new people (introvert!) and introducing myself. So, if you want to talk with me, approach me. I will melt with gratitude that someone else took the initiative.
Thank you, Lissa. Learn more about Lissa Halls Johnson by visiting her website at http://www.lissahallsjohnson.com/.