Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview + Giveaway: J.J. Johnes, author of This Girl is Different

I'm very happy and honored to be joined today by a fantastic Young Adult writer, J.J. Johnson. Her recent novel is one of my favorite YA reads ever!
My dear readers, please welcome J.J. Johnson, author of  a wonderful and unique novel, This Girl is Different.

E: Evie
J.J.: J.J. Johnson

E: Welcome to Bookish J.J! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
JJ: Thanks for having me! Let’s see. I’m 37 now, but I grew up in small town in upstate New York—very much like the one where Evie lives. Now I live in Durham, North Carolina with my husband and son, and my dog, Ruby. We just got back from 18 months living in Australia; I loved it there!
E: Who or what inspired you to write This Girl is Different?
JJ: I wrote it during Obama’s campaign, when I was thinking about the difference between growing up within a system, and being an outsider coming into a system. How do things look to someone with fresh eyes, a different perspective? People seem to think it’s a bad thing to have lived in other countries, to have a different point of view … but to me it’s fascinating, and can be a great asset. It’s a big world out there. There are a lot of different ways of doing things. Evie shows us that.
E: Do you mind telling us how long did it take for you to write it?
JJ:  When I have an idea, I mull it over for a long time—a couple of months at least—before I start writing. Once I started writing TGID, it went pretty quickly — I’d say eight months, start to finish. But it took another three years to find a publisher.
E: I absolutely loved Evie! She's such a brave and vivid character! Is Evie a character based on yourself? Are any of the scenes or character based on events and people in your own life?
JJ: Thanks. I love Evie, too! We have a lot in common, but Evie’s not me. I wasn’t homeschooled; I wasn’t as comfortable in my own body, as a teenager, as Evie is. I have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor, while Evie doesn’t have a cynical bone in her body. But we do share an interest in sustainable design, we both value kindness, we both stand up for justice. We both have the ability to listen to divergent points of view: Evie has strong opinions, but she’s open to other people’s thoughts, and she’ll admit when she’s wrong. I love that about her.
E: "This Girl is Different" has a very beautiful and eye-catching cover! Did you have any input in it?
JJ: I couldn’t be happier with the cover. I didn’t give any concept input to Peachtree, but they were kind enough to involve me in the process (and I was very appreciative, because many of my author friends have no say about their covers). Peachtree sent me mock-ups of three different covers, all by the very talented Mo Withee, and my editor and I loved the one that was ultimately picked.
E: What’s next in line for you, are you working on a new book now?
JJ: My next novel, Random, is coming out this fall, also from Peachtree Publishers. Random takes place in the same high school as This Girl is Different, a year or two later. It’s not a sequel—Evie will be off to college at that point—but if you read carefully, you’ll notice that some of the secondary characters overlap.
E: What genres do you like to read in your free time?
JJ: I’ll read anything, as long as it’s good. There’s so much to learn, and we’re not here long.
E: Which of your favorite books would you recommend everybody to read?
JJ: I recommend everyone read as many books, from as genres and as many points of view, as humanly possible. Turn off the TV and READ!
E: Where is your favorite place for writing? Do you have any special writing ritual?
JJ:  I don’t own a desk, and my schedule’s quite variable, so I just plunk myself down write wherever I can: a corner of my child’s classroom, a coffee shop, my dining room table. I do have a little ritual—I clear off an area for my computer, listen to white noise in my earbuds, and make a cup of tea or coffee. Each of my novels has its own drink. This Girl is Different was iced coffee. Random (coming in Fall 2011) was hot chai. The one I’m writing now is unsweetened iced tea. It becomes Pavlovian — taste the drink, start to think.
E: What advice would you give to writers who are interested in writing Young Adult novels?   
JJ: Read, read, read.
E: What are your biggest pet peeves?
JJ: Whining and negativity. Being inconsiderate. And when my son or husband leave their wet towels on the bed. I hate that!
E: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
JJ:   1. I organize my bookshelves by color.
    2. I used to race BMX when I was a kid.
    3. I love rock climbing.
    4. I’m allergic to cats.
    5. I love the desert.
Random Questions:

- white or dark chocolate? Dark!  White chocolate is neither.
- coffee or tea? Yes, please.
- favorite fictional character? Princess Leia.
- favorite movie?  Good Will Hunting is one of my favorites.
- favorite song?  Wow.  That’s a stumper.  “It Had to be You” was my wedding dance, so I’ll go with that one.  Prince’s “Kiss” gets second place.  Third place might go to Ani Difranco’s “Little Plastic Castle.”
- favorite TV show? Hm.  I don’t watch a ton of TV these days, but Glee gets a mention.  I also like HGTV design shows.  And I still love Friends.
- Spring or Autumn? Spring.  And Autumn.
- printed copy or eBook?  Old-fashioned printed copy.  I’m not anti-eBook, but there’s nothing like that musty library smell, the yellowing pages, the peeling covers of your favorite books.

J.J, thank you so much for joining us today!  
I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing your next books!

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview, for more information about J.J. Johnson and her books, please visit her website: J.J. Johnson, Author or/and read my review of This Girl is Different.

If you're wondering where to get This Girl is Different, here are the links:

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!!!
Emily from Peachtree Publishers generously provided us with a printed copy of this fantastic book!

Giveaway ends on Friday, June 17th and is open to US/Canada addresses only (sorry Internationals!).

All you have to do to Enter is  be a GFC follower of my blog and fill out the form below.
For extra entries:
+1 follow me on Twitter @SeoEvie
+1 be my friends on Goodreads
+5 be J.J's fan on Goodreads
+5 leave a comment on this post
The winner will be picked with and emailed by me.

Thanks J.J. and Emily! And good luck everyone :)


SusieBookworm said...

Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I'm surprised to see that J.J. is a North Carolina author. Yay!

Lisa said...

Awesome interview!:D
I love Friends! Ahhh! My favorite people are Rachael and Joey xD

Tiffany Drew said...

I love Friends too. It is my all time favorite tv show. This was a fun interview, thank you for sharing!

Maria (pronounced Mariah) I blame my mother... said...

Books gotta be good you love dark chocolate! Ha!

Chey said...

Interesting how every novel has it's own drink! haha, I am too allergic to cats. But I have four <__<
I'm a cat lady and I just can't help it.

Dana said...

What a fantasstic interview. You asked such interesting questions and I love the answers! I'm a firm believer in reading everything you can get your hands on. Great giveaway, too. Thanks!

Erin said...

So many authors live in NC and almost none live in MI! Why did I move away from Raleigh?!

Anyways, great interview. Love the questions and the answers, especially about each book having its own drink. Going to have to try that one!

Thanks for the giveaway!

fletch8502 at yahoo dot com

Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

Tasnim said...

thanks for the giveaway!!

Twitter follower - star_light91

Goodreads follower - Tasnim

Sophia said...

Thanks for the great giveaway!


Lieder Madchen said...

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway! This Girl is Different just hit my to-read list. :)

Mary Ellen said...

Thank you for the interview and for the chance to win!

Aanchal@Book Flame said...

Thanks for the giveaway! and great interview as well.

Shirley said...

This is an interesting review and I especially enjoyed the author's comments about different perspectives and how they can be a good thing. I totally agree with her. Three years to find a publisher isn't too bad. I've read of some authors who've looked for 7+ years before finding an author. Did she use an agent to find a publisher?

I am entering for a chance to win what looks like a very interesting YA read. Thank you.

ElfRenee said...

I love the cover!!

Miss Page-Turner said...

This Girl is Different sounds good! Glad I am well prepared for becoming an author, I am reading all the time:D

Ronyka7 said...

Good interview. The book sound great.

Danah said...

Loved the random facts. I organize my shelves by height/size. lol. This isn't really my biggest pet peeve, but it's one of it. When someone keeps asking me questions, it's annoying. Anyway, I enjoyed reading the interview. Thanks!

musicaddict15 said...

This is a really interesting interview. I found this very cool! :)

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