Interview: There is “Nothing More Joyful” Than Writing For Author Angela Johnson

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Angela Johnson is a remarkable author whose books captivate her readers. I met her at an author event and she explained how she became a published author, which I think is a really cool story, for she said it happened by “accident.”
One of her favorite books is A Fine White Dust, which is written by Cynthia Rylant, a woman she used to be a nanny for.  Cynthia Rylant is the one who helped Angela get her first book published.
This week I reviewed Angela Johnson’s book Heaven, which is part of a trilogy. Earlier, I reviewed another book she wrote called Lily Brown’s Paintings. I have also read her books Windflyer and Tell Me a Story Mama.
I am happy this award-winning author agreed to answer some of my questions. See what she said below:
Question: Your book Heaven is based in Heaven, Ohio. Is that a real place? If so, have you ever been there?
Answer: Actually, there is no Heaven, OH.  But there are a lot of unincorporated towns that used to exist around my hometown. They had biblical names.  Heaven is based on a combination of communities in the area I grew up.
Q: How did you come up with the character Shoogy in the book?
A: Shoogy is based on my best friend from high school. She was a bit wild and very interesting.
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A: I would describe my writing style as spare and reserved. I like to tell a story but let the reader fill in a lot of the story by imagining the parts I did not talk about.  I count on readers being imaginative and clever because sometimes what is not revealed in a story says more than what is written.
Q: On a scale of one to 10, how would you describe how fun it is to write books?
A: There is nothing more joyful for me than when I start to write. I would say writing for me is a ten!  Sometimes I forget how much fun using my imagination and skill to weave story can be.  It is only when I am in the midst of writing that I start grinning at my luck to be doing this.
Q: I know that some authors are just paired with random illustrators. But I noticed E. B. Lewis has illustrated some of your books. Do you have a personal relationship with him?
A: Actually, I think I have only met E.B once; so I really don’t know him well.  I think he is an amazing illustrator and that my editor sees that his art really paired well with a couple of my manuscripts.  I have loved the books he illustrated.  I consider myself extremely lucky.
Q: Do you think having diverse characters is a key part of having a successful book?
A: I do believe that having diverse characters in my work is important.  I consider the world a bountiful basket of amazing and different characters.  I want to use them all when I can.
Q: Are you planning on writing any more books? 
A: I am currently writing a picture book and a book of poetry. We will see what comes from them.  I am completely happy right now—–because as I said before there is nothing as joyful for me.

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