From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Interview with YA author Elana Johnson

Absolutely stoked to have YA author Elana Johnson visit us here today. I've been wanting to do interviews at this blog for a long time, and I hope this will be the first in a long line. Elana was gracious and wonderful to work with. She's got a terrific blog, and we should all be excited for her debut novel Possession, which comes out June 7th. Without further ado...

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Elana Johnson. You killed my father. Prepare… Just kidding. But I do love The Princess Bride. I also love reality TV, The Office, and Seinfeld. I like reading and writing and watching movies. I teach elementary school in my spare time, and wish every meal could be eaten in a restaurant.

What is your writing schedule like?
I write mostly at night, between the hours of 9 and 11. The weekends are fair game. Sometimes I just email myself a line that’s in my head.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve never wanted to be a writer. I don’t know if I should admit that out loud. What happened is I just started writing one day, and I realized how therapeutic it was.

And I’m a pitbull. It’s one of my strengths, but also a weakness. When I sink my teeth into something, I don’t let go. So I’d written a book, the next step was to figure out how to publish it. So that’s what I did.

How do you typically come up with ideas and develop them into a story?
By living life. I get ideas just by doing normal things like going to museums and taking my kids to the park and boring stuff like that.

Your debut novel Possession is coming out in June. What is the story behind getting it accepted for publication?
Oh, you don’t have enough space for that. Ha!

I wrote Possession in 17 days in April 2008. I queried my first book for 8 months. It failed to get me an agent. I revised/reworked Possession and began querying it in April 2009. Eight months of freaking query hell and three revisions later, I got an offer from a great agent. (Sometimes I still pinch myself.)

After some more revisions, the book went out on submission. And it sold! (Completely mind-blowing.) That was February 2010. Since then? Editing, marketing, blogging, and more writing. No sleeping, sadly.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
Dude, there is very little that is appealing about the life of a writer. Seriously. I don’t know why people do it! Very little sleep, constant second-guessing, opening a vein and letting critique partners bleed you dry… Yeah. Don’t start writing.

What do you consider the hardest thing about being a writer, and how do you deal with it?
The extreme emotional roller coaster is by far the hardest thing. One second, you’re the most brilliant writer ever. The next? You’re the worse person to ever open a word document and try to pen a story. And that’s on the creative side.

On the business side, one minute you’re a brilliant storyteller with great worldbuilding, and the next a reviewer has blasted you and you can’t even construct a sentence.

Strap in for the most tumultuous emotional ride ever.

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
Do what works for you. I spent a lot of months beating myself for not outlining. I don’t do that anymore. I allow myself to write the way I write best.

Why do you blog? What advice would you give to other author bloggers?
I blog because I love it. I love the comments; I love emailing the people back and engaging in a conversation with them. I love getting to know them through their blogs.

Advice to other author bloggers: Do what works for you. There is only one you; be that person.

What are the themes you tend to write about, or genres you tend to write in?
I call my books “Angry girl novels.” That’s not entirely accurate, but I like angst. A lot of angst. I like to bleed out my emotions of loss, heartache, anger, whatever into my main characters. I really like to *feel* when I read/write.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope readers take from the book what they need at that time in their lives. Some won’t need anything, and that’s okay. Some will find what they need, and that’s great.

Hope you found this helpful and enjoyable. I know I did. Happy writing!
Sarah Allen


  1. Awesome interview Elana! You sure captured the writing life in a few phrases. Good luck with getting Possession out there! :-)

  2. Great interview. I can so relate to beating myself up and trying not to and not starting out wanting to be a writer.

    So excited for your debut!

  3. Great interview! I really can't wait for Possession to come out--I've been following Elana's journey since before her book deal. :)

  4. Thank you for dedicating an entire post to me, Sarah. You are made of awesomesauce.


  5. I'm loving the 'angry girl novels' line. Also good call on the fact that the writer's life isn't all beautiful flowing words.
    - Sophia.

  6. Great interview! And you're so right about the emotional roller coaster, Elana. Reviews can be awesome or downright upsetting.

  7. Enjoyed reading this interview. Congrats on the upcoming release, Elana!

  8. Great interview! Elana is such a great person and I can't wait until her book comes out!

  9. Really interesting interview! Thank for sharing. :)

  10. Your quirky journey to publication is inspiring!

  11. Great advice on blogging! ' Do what works for you. There is only one you.' Thanks Elana and Sarah! ;-)

  12. PS: Sarah, I have an award for you at my blog, do pop over when you can. Cheers! ;-)

  13. Loved the interview! Always nice to hear more from Elana!

  14. Great interview. I liked the idea about emailing yourself an idea you want to keep.

  15. Great interview, Elana and Sarah! Thanks so much. Am enjoying learning more about the fabulous Elana.

    BTW, I love Princess Bride too. That answer made me LOL. For real.

  16. This was an excellent interview and the answers were so interesting! Kudos to you both. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I finished A to Z on schedule and am keeping a log of the articles in The Buzz Archive ( for 4/30/11. At least for awhile! Great site you have! rcj

  17. Omigosh, I've watched The Princess Bride like a gazillion times. My kids love it. One good thing about being a writer is we get to work in our jammies and eat cereal whenever, or is that just me?

  18. Yay for Elana! I love how open & honest she is. And I can't wait to get my paws on POSSESSION.


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