Monday, October 06, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Margaret Johnson-Hodge

Margaret Johnson-Hodge is the author of several books that have received national acclaim. She is the recipient of the Reviewer’s Choice Award as well as a Blackboard, Essence Magazine and Black Expressions Best Seller.

“A New Day” made Mosaic Magazine’s “What’s Hot Top Five Fiction” List five (5) times and Margaret has garnered rave reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, The Quarterly Black Review, Essence Magazine and Ebony Magazine.

Her seventh novel, “A Journey to Here” was released to great reviews and earned her an “Author of The Year” nomination. “Red Light Green Light” is her 9th published novel.

Red Light Green Light

Craig Stevens is forty-five years old and a recovering crack addict. Forty-one days clean when the novel opens, his world is rocked when one fateful September morning, 9/11 happens. With everything falling down around him, thoughts of an old love—Gazelle—come to mind. He sets out to find her, to make sure she’s okay. However, the pitfalls along the way don’t make it easy. With vivid detail and a gritty landscape, Red Light Green Light is the Butterscotch Blues of crack addiction, taking you through it and beyond…

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

Even when a situation seems utterly hopeless, there is always hope.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned drug addiction hurts loved ones to a much deeper degree than the person who is actually addicted.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

A true artist wants to keep 'growing' and not turn out the same kind of stories. Unfortunately, you risk not only disappointing your readers, but loosing them as fans. And, often a publisher doesn't want you to write something different. They prefer that you stick with your ' formula', so sometimes find yourself between a rock and a hard place.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

When writing a story, I don't decide what happens to the characters or not. The story itself decides that. And sometimes the 'ending' isn't the way a reader would like it to be, but it's the truth of that story.

Our theme this month is THE BUSINESS OF WRITING. Most new writers don’t know about the business side of writing, what advice can you offer on this important part of writing?

Writing the book is only 20 percent of it. Selling the book is 80. Be prepared to get out there and sell your book like the rent is due!

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I can honestly say nothing. My choices, based on what I knew and didn't, often have a lesson behind them. If I'd known some things sooner, I would have missed out on some important lessons.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Yes, when I was pregnant with my children. I had some extremes experiences both times. I spitted, non-stop, through the entire pregnancy and had a queasy stomach for the first three months. I felt so miserable, writing was the last thing on my mind.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Write the best story you can write at that time. Be honest about your writing and strive to make it better. Lastly, keep the faith that your story is one that should be not only written, but shared.
What is the best lesson you have learnt from another writer?

My mentor, Brenda Connor-Bey Miller, told me that just like she extended a hand to help me when I was an aspiring writer, it's my duty to do the same for whomever comes after me. It's called 'Passing It On'.

Five questions about your book:

1. Why does an intelligent grown man chose to pick up a crack pipe?
2. What is it about crack that makes people loose their humanity?
3. How does someone who doesn't believe in God find the faith to stay clean?
4. Why does rehabs fail more times than they succeed?
5. If your mate was an addict, could you stay with him?

You can visit Margaret at -


Phillip Thomas Duck said...

I had the pleasure of reading an earlycopy of the novel. I love the line about it being "Buterscotch Blues" for crack addiction. I loved that previous novel, and "Red Light, Green Light" reminded me of it because of the depth of emotions, the ownership I took over the characters, and the poetic writing. This is a tremendous novel. I read as much, or moreso, than I write. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find books worth my time and money. This novel stands out. MJH never fails. Ever.

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Sounds like my kind of read. I look forward to adding it to my reading list, especially after reading PTD's comments above.

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