Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First Contact: An Interview with Christine Johnson

We have discovered life on a faraway planet! The government has decided to send representative emissaries from all walks of life on earth. You’ve been chosen represent authors! What is going through your mind?

Oh God what if there’s no chocolate and can I bring my own pillow and has John Green dropped dead he must have because that’s the only reason they’d be asking me. That’s what I’d be thinking, all in a rush with no punctuation.

Once I got over the initial freak-out, I’d be really excited and very nervous. For several reasons, on both counts. First and most practically, I’m not a very good traveler. I *adore* being in new places - I had a life-changing trip to Japan several years ago - but I’m horrible at the actual *travel* part of traveling. I don’t like the stress of catching flights and not knowing my way around and sleeping in a strange bed. But it’s always worth it in the end, for the amazing cool new things that happen in between that other stuff.

Beyond that, I’d be so excited to talk about authors and writing and what I think about all of that, but I’d certainly be feeling the pressure of speaking for all the other authors on earth. Not to mention that a misunderstanding could have serious intergalactic consequences, so I’d be weighing my every word!

Last minute Mick Jagger (chosen to represent rock stars) drops dead and they turn to you to find a replacement. You can pick anyone to go with you. Who do you pick and why?

Amanda Palmer. Hands down. And, quite frankly, I’d feel relieved that I was taking her and not Mick with me. Not only do I love her - and her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, has been the soundtrack for my work in the last couple of months - but I really believe she’s at the forefront of the rock movement right now. I think she knows - and could explain to the alien race - everything that Mick knows about rock ‘n’ roll, but she sees what’s coming next.

Plus, I think we’d have a hell of a fun time.

Thanks to new technology meals can now be made to fit in a tube but still taste exactly as they would if they had been cooked from scratch. Unfortunately it is expensive to make different meals so everyone only gets to pick one for the group to eat. What do you pick?

That’s a really, really hard question as I adore food. Limiting it to one is so tough! I’d probably give you a different answer tomorrow, but today, I’d say a particular lentil curry (Dahl Makhni) from my favorite local Indian restaurant, with some lovely basmati rice, a good garlicky naan bread, and a mango lassi on the side. I could eat that every day of the week, and be perfectly content.

The day of meeting the aliens is approaching! It is time for you to prepare an example of five books (other than yours) for you to share with them. What books do you pick?

Again, tooooough question. And again, one for which the answer changes daily. Today, though, I’d say THE BOOK THEIF by Markus Zusak for the brilliant prose, PAPER TOWNS by John Green for the humor and the genuine characters, BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett for the brilliant relationships, CORALINE by Neil Gaiman because it’s scary as hell, and TITHE by Holly Black because it’s a great story.

It turns out that the aliens hold written communication as the highest art form and immediately move to translate your work into their language. For now though they will be satisfied with a quick pitch. What do you tell them?

My first novel, CLAIRE DE LUNE, is about a sixteen-year-old girl who discovers, on her birthday, that she is a werewolf and that, contrary to popular belief, all werewolves are female.

Killing humans is forbidden by the code of the pack, but a rogue werewolf has been breaking that law, threatening the existence of Claire’s new pack. As the pack struggles to find and fight the rogue werewolf and Claire struggles with her lupine identity, her heart and her loyalties are torn in two. Claire must keep her new life a secret from even her best friend–and especially from Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt…and with whom Claire is impossibly and undeniably falling in love.

On their home planet writers are treated like Kings. They ask what life is like for you being an author on earth. What do you say?

That writers mostly get treated like whatever *else* they are. So, a King who writes gets treated like a king, but a nanny who writes gets treated like a nanny, a scullery maid who writes gets treated like a scullery maid, and so on. Those who are lucky enough to make their living as writers are usually treated as though they live like Kings when in reality, most of them (that I know, anyway) live like regular people with regular jobs.

Which is better than it sounds, really. I feel like my job as a writer is to skulk around in the real world, digging up interested bits of humanity and washing them off and then putting them into a manuscript. It’s pretty hard to do that if you’re always being noticed and waited on. It seems like it would be almost impossible to skulk, as a King.

They offer you a place of honor on their faraway planet but you may never get to return home. How do you respond to the aliens? Careful, we wouldn’t want to upset our new friends!

Although I am honored by the offer, and appreciate the opportunity to visit with their most interesting race, I have two small children at home. And though I adore being a writer, being a mom is more important to me. So, with great regret, I would have to pass up the fabulous opportunity with which they presented me. Because I could never stand to leave my kids - not even for a place of honor among the aliens!

Thank you Christine for playing along! Make sure you check out Christine's book Claire de Lune out May 18th. Find out more about Christine at her website.


  1. Love this interview. Jeff, I look forward to getting to know your blog! Christine, your book sounds fabulous! Great interview. I look forward to Claire de Lune!

  2. Christine: "...I’d be weighing my every word!"

    As authors, we do that already, so for the rest of us, it's a good thing you've had plenty of practice!

    Jeff: Thanks for putting such great lists together and in calendar format! You have made my APRIL to-be-read list so much longer, but you have also brought together so many people, like Christine and I and WIBIJ.

    Your interviews are amazing, btw, and allow your author guest to show what they are made of.

  3. Christine- your first novel sounds awesome! So many stories about werewolves these days- maybe I should get on board ;-)
    I really like the name and premise- quite a different take on it!

  4. Thanks! I have so much fun writing these interviews. I love giving authors the chance to showcase their creativity. Coming next is a Ninja themed one!

  5. Christine, congrats on your debut. I love the premise and can't wait to read it!
    I love this unique interview. Very clever. (and Christine, I 'd have to stay on Earth with the kids too. Family first! :)

  6. o-o-o-o I love ninjas.

    (If the theme is still available by the time I become a debut author, you should know that I am obsessed with pirates.)

  7. pirates! I can't believe I haven't thought of that yet! I will save it for you though