Thursday, April 14, 2011

Author Interview--Elana Johnson

OMGosh, you guys know how much I love Elana and her blog? Well, last week I reviewed her debut book Possession and this week I present an interview with her.

How do you “get in the zone” when writing? Do you listen to music? Look through art? Something else? What is your writing environment like?
“The zone” is a very scary place. Usually I can write with the family noise in the background. But revising is another story. That requires headphones and a special playlist. When I have to do that, my husband calls it “going into the cockpit.” Because my work area is a little less than organized. Here’s a pic:
What’s your favorite part of being a writer?
It’s therapy. Free therapy. So that’s the best part.

What’s your least favorite part?
The business side.

Do you ever have trouble with writers block?
Yes, all the time. The best way to get over it: relax and do something else. Then power on.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you aren’t writing?

In many different ways. Teaching. Driving. Cooking. Reading. Cleaning. Laughing. Crying. Watching TV. Sleeping. Thinking.

Are you a pantser or plotter, or a mix?
I used to be pure pantser. But now I’m a bit more of a mix. Not much, mind you, unless I have to be. There’s nothing like sitting down to blank pages and having a vague idea, and just writing.

Best thinking activity? (e.g. washing dishes, folding clothes, driving)

How did you fall in love with this story idea? For instance, do you remember when the idea first came to you? Did it start with the "control or be controlled", or did it start with Vi?
All my stories start with people, with characters. So this book started with Vi and Zenn and Jag. That, and the fact that I’d just read my first dystopian novel and I wanted to write something futuristic and dark and mad and messy. And Vi fit into that beautifully.

How long did you work on  Possession?
I drafted POSSESSION in 17 days. It was 90,000 words. Then I revised/rewrote it for 13 months. (The joys of pantsing.) I started submitting when I felt ready; the MS was at 83,000 words then.

After a couple of agent-suggested revisions, I finally got an offer. The MS was at 78,000 words. 8 more months had gone by. After a couple more rounds of revisions, we subbed a MS at 75,000 words.

After more edits—and more months—POSSESSION was finally done. It’s about 80,000 words now.

All told, I perfected POSSESSION for about 28 months—that’s over 2 years! Now it’s out of my hands.

Which character do you relate to the most?
Oh, Vi for sure. She has a lot of me in her.
That tells me a lot about you. ;)

What is your favorite moment, scene or line from the story?
I’m not sure how to describe it without giving things away. But my favorite scene is between Vi and Zenn, and happens quite late in the book. I just love Zenn, and think he gets the short end of the stick in a lot of ways. So when he says, “That’s why I didn’t tell you,” my heart breaks for him a little. I may or may not have actually cried a little when I wrote that scene. It’s still one of my faves. (You can find the scene at the end of chapter 39.)
Oh yeah! I looked it up and I totally ached for him. It is one of the places where I thought, maybe, just maybe. It is hard without giving away spoilers!

How do YOU feel about the ending without giving any spoilers. :)
Dude, I love the way my book ends. It’s perfect for the story and the characters and that’s all that matters. I hope readers find it authentic the same way I do.
I agree it is perfect in its messy realistic sort of way.

Will there be a continuation of this story?
I am not at liberty to say at this juncture.

Anything else you want us to know about you, or the book?
Um, I like eating tomatoes raw, and I’d rather bathe an elephant than choke down a mushroom. As for the book…um, if you like angry girls and cute boys and high technology and brainwashing, then you might like POSSESSION.

Oh, yeah! What's not to like?

Possession is scheduled to be released June 7th, 2011, in hardcover by Simon Pulse, a part of Simon & Schuster.
ISBN: 978-1-4424-2125-7  
You can pre-order it from Amazon HERE.  


  1. Great interview! I'm really looking forward to reading Posession and I love hearing about other author's processes. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  2. I love eating tomatoes raw, too. But salt. I have to have salt. People look at me funny when they see me eating one for the first time. XD

    Your book sounds wondrous. I'll have to buy it after I get through my giant TBR list.

  3. I hate mushrooms! This was a fun interview. I love seeing the different questions people ask. It gives me that much more awesomeness about one of my favorite people to follow.

  4. Dude! I love the end of the book too. It's PERFECT

  5. AWESOME interivew! (I hate mushrooms too.) ;)

  6. Fantastic interview Charity. I'm gonna have to snag me a copy of Possession. Thanks for being so wonderful to take the time to connect with everyone Elana. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to learn things about great writers.

  7. What a great interview! I'm glad I dropped by :) I'm so excited to read this book. It's nice to meet you.

  8. Good questions, Charity. Nice to not have the same old, same old.

    Elana, I like the picture of your work area.

    Interesting to see how many times the word count jumped up and down. And that's not including how many times you revised before submitting!


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