Monday, May 07, 2012
FEATURED AUTHOR: Sadeqa Johnson
How did you start out your writing career?
I started off wanting to be an actress. I was a theater major living in New York when I started fooling around with poetry which turned to playwriting, screenwriting and ended up with novel writing. I landed a job working in publishing after college and it was there that I became very serious about my writing. Love in a Carry-on Bag took me over ten years to finish. I started writing it when I was a publicity manager at G.P Putnam’s Sons. Every day I closed my office door at four o’clock and wrote for the last hour of the workday. On my commute home, I edited the pages. I got married and left my corporate job to write and raise my children, but still nursed a burning desire to tell this story. I wrote during naptimes, between feedings, in the midst of sleep deprivation and ear infections. My husband calls me the most dedicated woman he knows because I stayed the course, even with the daily pressures of caring for a young family. I truly believe that the first novel is where you learn to write, so it was important for me to be patient with the process and give my life and the story time to unfold. My characters follow me everywhere. I wake up thinking about them like I do my children.
What did you learn while writing this book?
Patience is most definitely a very important virtue. I often think of writing as cooking a stew. You can’t rush the vegetables to soften, and all of the juices and flavors to compliment each other on the first try. It’s important to constantly add and layer what you have, and then let it simmer and marinate. When it’s ready it’s ready.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I wanted readers to experience true love while sinking into a story with characters that lingered long after the last page. I also wanted to establish myself as a serious writer who crafted an unforgettable story.
What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
That’s an interesting question. A little of both. I knew I wanted to write a long distance love story because my husband and I started off in a long distance relationship. He was from D.C., living in Philadelphia. I was from Philadelphia, living in New York City. The highs and lows of only being together seventy-two hours per week was heart wrenching, but also hot, sexy and intoxicating. The intensity of that experience drove me to write the story of Erica and Warren but it was the characters that led the story, the plotting of it was actually very difficult for me and took nine drafts to get right.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I am extremely busy. It’s funny because it’s what I’ve always dreamed of but now that I’m in the thick of things I’m exhausted. I keep telling myself to forge on, call one more bookstore, update my tour schedule and do it with grace. My favorite part of the experience is being interviewed and signing books, so thanks for featuring me in SORMAG.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love writing period. It’s a joy to show up everyday in my office and get to devote hours of my time to the craft that I love. Watching the story unfold, hearing the characters whisper their secrets to me, it really is like magic. What I don’t like about writing is that when I don’t get to write I feel this enormous amount of guilt, but I’m working on that because guilt is a lower vibration and adds nothing to this journey. Guilt be gone.
What is something that you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I wish I would have been more connected with the marketing aspect of the book and sent bookstores advance copies months before the book was available to build the momentum.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do make it a point to write something everyday. Don’t put the pressure on yourself of having to write for long stretches of time, 10 minutes before bed is a great place to start. Don’t always feel like you have to be at a computer, do carry a notepad and pen with you everywhere because you never know when the muse will strike. Don’t give up even when you feel like you can’t write one more draft, do believe that you can absolutely do anything that you put your mind too.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Writers really need to work without being disturbed. My family often calls during my writing time and say, “I only have one quick thing to tell you.” Yes, but one quick thing can make me forget a whole chapter or plot development that was just starting to germinate. We need space to create.
Tell us something few know about you?
I went ziplining last year in St. Martin on my birthday. It was my idea and when we got to the tippy top of the mountain I tried to chicken out but my husband and tour guide fastened me to the cable sent me down the hill. It was the best daredevil experience of my life. Can’t wait to try it again.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m married with children and in my spare time I really enjoy being with them bike riding, swimming, traveling, eating raw oysters, playing tennis and I just started taking African dance. I like to watch Oprah’s Lifeclass, practice meditation and sit in the sun.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I try to blog as much as possible, post on Facebook and Twitter. My novel has only been out a few weeks but I’m really excited about skyping with book clubs and chatting about LOVE IN A CARRY-ON BAG.
Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Name your top five favorite books of all time.
There Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Are You There God, it’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Sugar by Bernice McFadden
Mama by Terry McMillan
Harry Potter (all 7 books) by JK Rowling
Who was the first author you ever met?
Bebe Moore Campbell. I went to Freedom Theatre, a summer school for the arts with her daughter Maia in Philadelphia. We were in a local bookstore together and she plucked Sweet Summer off the shelf and said, this is my mom’s book and my mouth flew open. I met Ms. Campbell a few days later and she gave me an autograph copy which is prominently displayed in my living room.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
If you don’t give it your full out effort, you won’t succeed. It sounds cliché but you really can do anything if you believe it and don’t let anything get in your way.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
In my next novel, I really want to focus on shame and secrecy. I’ve had this idea of writing the story of a stay-at-home mom drowning in domestic bliss having lost all sense of self. After three children, one with a genetic condition, she realizes this is not the life she has signed up for but feels stuck. She’s lugging around a secret past that her husband doesn’t know about, but it only takes one telephone call for her carefully sculpted world to crash.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
I would love for readers to stay in contact with me! I’m on twitter @sadeqasays, Facebook /SadeqaJohnson and my website is http://www.sadeqajohnson.com/. I also have a few youtube clips that I’d love for you to check out so please go and search Sadeqa Johnson.
Can a long distance love affair really survive?
Erica Shaw spends her week babysitting the country’s bestselling authors for one of the top publishing companies in New York City. But on Friday nights she escapes to DC, where her sexy-lipped musician boyfriend, Warren Prince, works and performs. Their connection is fierce, and the couple promises to never miss a weekend together. But when real life walks in—an overbearing father, an alcoholic mother, office politics, and a lucrative job contract—the couple starts unraveling at the seam. Tempers flare, violence breaks, while new lovers eagerly wait in the wings—to claim both of them.
Drenched in the perils of passion and the sweet-sounds of jazz, Johnson dives deep into the world of ambition and the stumbling blocks of family. Clever, fast-paced and sexy, Love in a Carry-on Bag is a modern day love story that marks the healing power of forgiveness and begs the question, how much baggage is really too heavy to carry.
Love in a Carry on Bag Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa2hIYd-ndU
Author Interview Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbix9MaZvg
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