I’m very excited to be interviewing new adult author Sharon M. Johnston on the blog today! Not only did Sharon once have pink hair – which makes her my new best friend – she’s also just released her second novel in the An Open Heart Series. In today’s interview she shares insight into her process, the difference between love and obsession, and how to balance the author life when you work full time!
Let’s jump right in!
I: Welcome Sharon! Please introduce yourself to my readers and tell us a little bit about yourself and your books!
S: I’m a writer from sunny Queensland Australia. I write stories predominantly under the speculative fiction umbrella, as well as some contemporary books. I’m published in a couple of anthologies, as well as my series An Open Heart, which is with City Owl Press. Divided: An Open Heart Novel Book One, follows the story of Mishca, an adoptee from Brisbane. After having a lifesaving heart transplant, Mishca develops super powers. Her quest to find her birth parents is intertwined with her super powers.
I: It turns out you also just launched a new book! Tell us all about it and how we can get it!
S: Shattered: An Open Heart Novel Book Two recently launched into the bookosphere. It picks up from the end of Divided. When Mishca discovered the truth about her powers and her heritage, she also uncovered a plot to terminate her sisters. Mishca and her friends make a desperate dash up the Queensland east coast to get to her sisters before they are killed off.
I: Sharon, you have PINK HAIR! I love you already. How many colors have you dyed your hair?
S: At the moment I’m back to blonde, but I do like to put a bit of pink in my hair. When I went to Las Vegas for Romantic Times I went full pink so I was easy for my friends to spot.
I: The premise of your book Divided is pretty intense: a heart transplant that leads to superhuman abilities and being torn between two love interests. How did you come up with this idea and why did it intrigue you?
S: Without giving too much away, the story is about a false love, a love inherited rather than a natural organic love. I didn’t originally intend for there to be multiple love interests, but Ryder came along and worked.
I: Your book blurb mentions that Mischa is “torn between love and obsession.” Where do you think this line is? When does love become unhealthy?
S: I do believe in love at first sight, because it happened for my mum with my dad (and they were married for forty years until he passed away, and he is still the love of her life). But often it’s not real. It’s really lust at first sight. It becomes unhealthy if the feelings aren’t reciprocated and the lusting party continues to pursue.
I: Who is your ideal reader? What kind of books do they love and why will they love your book?
S: My ideal reader is someone who loves writers who experiment with genres and concepts. Love at first sight and multiple love interests at times are overused tropes, but if readers like these concepts being taken somewhere new then they will like my story. If readers love trying to guess plot twists, and love mysteries then they should love my stories. I haven’t heard of anyone guessing the twist in Divided yet, and most people comment on the cool twist in the reviews.
I: Lets jump into the craft side of writing. Can you give us a glimpse into your writing process… Are you a plotter or a pantster? Do you write fast drafts or slow perfect drafts? Do you write every day or in wild inspired spurts?
S: I’m a pantser who is easily distracted by shiny new things. I usually write with an alpha reader (someone who reads each chapter after I’ve finished writing/editing it) so I’m accountable to someone. At the moment I’m trying to write or edit each day as I’ve got a new story I want to finish before I move onto book three in the An Open Heart Series.
I: It sounds like your book has a love triangle in it. I adore love triangles! What is your secret to making these relationships sizzle?
S: In my story it’s not your typical love triangle. One side is a sizzle (Ryder) and one side is a fizzle (Colin). Honestly, I don’t think anyone is on #TeamColin. Everyone seems to be #TeamRyder all the way. But with Ryder, I wanted him to be the ultimate boyfriend. Of course he still has flaws, but he’s kind, caring and understanding. One of his best attributes is his cheeky sense of humor.
I: What was one thing you had to learn about writing in order to finish your most recent book?
S: Crutch words are the worst. Honestly, I had no idea how often I was using certain words. The word ‘look’ can make me cringe.
I: Do you have a day job or is writing your full time gig? How do you balance all the demands of being an author and find the time to write?
S: I work full time in PR and write when I have spare time. I recently had to step down from a con committee because I needed more time to focus on my writing. Sometimes I write on lunch breaks at work. Often I’ll write when there’s a show on that doesn’t need my full attention, like when I’m watching UFC, or the Bachelor.
I: What advice do you have for any aspiring authors?
S: Network with other authors and become part of the community. It’s one of the best ways to find beta readers/critique partners. Be open to feedback and criticism of your book. Listen to audio books, it gives you a complete new take on stories. And try listening to your own work through an app like Dream Voice. I haven’t tried it yet for my own work, but I’ve used it to edit other people’s work and it’s brilliant.
- Best book you’ve read in the last 6 months: Shadow and Bone
- Most influential author on you and your work: Holly Black with her Curse Workers Series and Maggie Stiefvater with The Raven Cycle Series and The Scorpio Races.
- If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you want to be when you “grow up”? A lawyer – I wanted to be Matlock.
- If you were a super hero, what would be your super power? Flight! I used to dream of flying as a kid.
- If you were a super hero, what color would your hair be? Pink, of course!
- Oddest thing you collect: Funky socks.
Sharon M. Johnston grew up listening to her father reading fables, folklore and, it’s no surprise she love stories. As soon as she could read, her nose was firmly in a book. She loves reading, listening to audio books and writing. Her New Adult novel Divided is out with City Owl Press. She also has several short stories in anthologies including: Words Withe Heart, Never Be Younger, The Basics of Life, and The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. You can learn more about Sharon and her books on her website www.sharonmjohnston.com or follow her on twitter @S_M_Johnston