Intimate Conversation with Lori Johnson
Lori Johnson spent the first seventeen years of her life as a "military brat." Even though she has lived in a total of eight different cites/communities in the U.S. and one abroad (Wiesbaden, Germany), she has always considered Memphis, TN (her birthplace and where most of her extended family lives) home. Currently, she resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband their young son.
Johnson (Lori) holds a master's degree in Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis. Her stories and essays have appeared in Upscale Magazine, The Commercial Appeal, The Tri-State Defender, The Emrys Journal, The Best of Memphis Anthology 2003 and Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review.
EDC Creations interview with Lori Johnson author of After The Dance
Ella: Describe the book and what you offer the reader.
Lori: After The Dance is a romantic comedy about two neighbors who stop their bickering and game playing long enough to fall in love. The story is set in my old home town of Memphis, TN and is told from both the male and female perspectives.
Among other things, I think what After The Dance offers readers is a funny, light-hearted, up-close and personal look at one of those couples who sometime make us ask ourselves--how in the world did those two end up together?
Ella: Tell us about your passion for writing.
My passion for words dates back to my childhood and I can barely recall a time when I wasn't reading and/or writing. According to my mother, when I was baby she and other relatives would routinely get a kick out of handing me books, ones without pictures and turned upside down. Inevitably, I'd cry until someone turned the book right side up again. My folks always wondered how it was a baby who couldn't read still seemed to know something wasn't quite right about all of those upside down words (smile).
Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
Lori: In After The Dance, readers are introduced to 34-year old Faye Abrahams, a chain-smoking and extremely cynical pharmacist, who describes her efforts to resist the charms of her next-door neighbor.
Carl, the neighbor who has every intention of sweet-talking and slow dancing his way into Faye's heart, is also a 42-year old divorced and financially struggling father of three. I tend to view Carl as a good-natured, hard-working, old school romantic, who, when he meets Faye is making a sincere effort to make amends for the "man about town" rep he earned while married.
Even though he's broke and not on the best of terms with one of his baby's mamas, Carl is a loving, attentive father, who makes spending time with his children one of his top priorities.
While on first glance, Faye typically comes off as little more than a hard-nosed, tough-talking, chain-smoking cynic, a closer inspection will revel she'd much more complex. Besides her soft spot for children and her willingness to volunteer her time and talents in both her church and her community, what I like most about Faye is her unwillingness to be used, play victim or settle for the "okey-doke."
Ella: What makes your book stand out and would make a reader pick it up?
Lori: I was extremely pleased with the artwork chosen for the cover of After The Dance and visually, I think the cover alone is capable of making a reader stop and say, "Hmm, what is this?"
As far as the actual story is concerned, I think what makes my book somewhat unique is that it's a love story told from both the male and female perspectives. Not only did I allow the protagonists (Carl & Faye) to tell their own versions of the story, I also invite readers to feel as if they are eavesdropping on the private conversations of these characters.
Finally, I hope the humor and the old school sensibility sets my work apart from some of the more "urban" tales currently on the market.
Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Lori: Besides a good time, mainly what I'd like folks to gain from their reading of After The Dance is an appreciation for what deep down, most of us know to be true--that whether male or female, being a "player" won't necessarily keep you from getting hurt or falling in love. In fact, sometimes it's better to dispense with all of the "game-playing" as well as all of the rules and barriers we often erect in our efforts to shield or hearts and egos from harm. Sometimes it's better to take a chance on being vulnerable and real and open to the possibility of love.
Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
Lori: My first piece of advice is to Read. More to the point, I strongly encourage writers to read work that challenges them. If while you're reading you're constantly telling yourself, "Oh, I could write better than this or that author," chances are you need to be reading more challenging material. But do keep in mind that a lot of good writing appears effortless. So, don't fool yourself. It's not always as easy as it appears.
My second piece of advice is to Write. Everyday, when possible. I like to tell people, writing isn't a spectator sport. You can't just talk about it, you have to be about it. Writing is an art, a craft and perhaps most important of all, a discipline.
Third, make a serious commitment to work on your craft. Learn to critique your own work and strive always for improvement. Develop a sense of your own unique voice and style. Know your weaknesses and strive to increase your efficiency in those areas. If possible, join a group of like-minded writers who meet on a regular basis and for the purpose of sharing information and critiquing each other's work. Subscribe and/or regularly read writer magazines and journals.
For anyone who is truly serious about writing and publishing, my fourth piece of advice is to educate yourself on the business of writing. It's never too soon to start reading up on things like, how to get published, how to write query letters, how to go about marketing what you write and how to work with agents and editors. There are a number of books on those subjects, as well as numerous internet resources (blogs, websites, articles and the like).
Ella: Lori thank you so much for giving oour authors and readers such powerful encouragement!
For additional information about Lori and/or to read an excerpt from her debut novel, After The Dance, visit her website: www.lorijohnsonbooks.com
Lori also maintains an interactive blog, "Lori's Old School Mix" at
Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations
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