Interview With Linda Baten Johnson

Linda-bio
How long have you been writing?
That’s a tough question. I can’t remember not writing in some capacity. I’ve done newsletters and publicity stories for different organizations, and I’ve written materials for use by literacy councils. I’ve done over fifty scripts which are sold to be used in classrooms or churches, and done some magazine articles. If you mean novel writing, I’ve only been working on those for the past four years.

What inspired you to write in the first place?
I started doing the scripts for my middle grade students. They loved to perform, so I started writing for them and then found a publisher.
Writing itself is just making up stories. Who doesn’t like to do that? When you see a young man sitting in a restaurant, you, as a writer, can create a chaotic life for him.

Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere–There is a tree on our street which has over a hundred pieces of gum stuck to its trunk. That tree represents a whole book series–a book for each gum chewer.

What is your ultimate writing dream?
A writer usually has a split life. Half is research and writing, the other half is publishing and marketing. My ultimate writing dream is to work on the research and writing half. I know–you asked about the a “dream” not reality.

Who is your best supporter?
My husband always encourages me and listens patiently when I gush about the latest researched topic.
Alternate answer–sorry bra came to mind when I read it–but probably wouldn’t be appropriate: Other than my underwire bra, I have to say my husband. He always encourages me and listens patiently which I gush about the latest researched topic.

What book have you most recently published?
Her Christmas Cowboy in 2013
Homer the Racehorse in 2012
The Friendship Train in 2012

What book are you working on?
I’m working on two. One is a chapter book about an orphan train rider. The other is a middle grade mystery about a brother and sister who move with their parents to a Michigan lighthouse. Both are set in the late 1800s.

Out of all the books you have written, which was your favorite and why?
The Friendship Train is a historical fiction about a national food drive conducted in 1947 to help the starving people of Europe. Very few people have heard of the Friendship Train or the Train of Gratitude (merci train) which France sent to our country in response. I spent over a year on research. Did I mention that I love researching?

Have you had any great experiences promoting your books?
When we did the book launch for Homer the Racehorse, my co-author brought the racing silks her jockey used and we photographed the children (and some adults) wearing them. I had also written a rap about Homer and the children got to perform. We had a great time that day.

What can you recommend to other writers?
One thing I have on my board is a quote from the late Tony Hillerman, mystery novelist. He said “Write it down, don’t write it right.”
One of my writing problems has been stopping the writing flow because the verb doesn’t sound right or I need to check a fact. Following Hillerman’s suggestion, I put a (word) or (fact) in the middle of the sentence and write on.

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