As the snow pummels the farm, I am thrilled to be able to share the warmth of Evan Johnson. I hope you’ll read his wisdom and pick up a copy of his book. Enjoy.
1.Tell us about your book.
When it’s Too Dark to See the Light is a Christian fiction story and the second in the When it’s . . . series. It follows Mark, Jade, Craig, and Berta on their journey to move forward (in their marriages, in life) despite parts of the past coming up to destroy what they have.
It took me some time to decide to write a sequel to When it’s Too Late to Tell because I was initially content with it being a standalone. The more I thought about it, the more questions I came up with trying to determine what happened after the ending. After a while, the questions were hard to ignore, so I took a shot at writing a sequel. I still wasn’t convinced that I should do one, but after getting through a 120k word first draft, I was starting to lean the other way.
2. What stories, themes, motivations do you find yourself drawn to in your work and in the works you read?
I am primarily drawn to the struggles of man in terms of Christianity and morality, and how one is emotionally and spiritually affected by those struggles.
3. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am a husband and a father. I’m either having deep conversations with my wife or playing dinosaurs vs trucks with my son. I’m kind of a gym rat as I spend quite a bit of time in my local gym clangin’ and bangin’. (laughs) Finally, I love to play video games, especially the story-driven ones.
4. What made you believe you could write a book? How did you dispel doubt as you wrote?
When it’s Too Dark to See the Light isn’t my first written or published book, so I will say this: I figure, if I wrote and published a book before, I can do it again. With each completed story, the doubt fades. With my very first completed book, I was too excited and new at everything to have any doubt.
5. Describe the first 2-3 steps of your process in writing your book.
Every story I have written started out as a single written scene, which started out as a daydream on many occasions. So, the beginning of my process is daydream or idea – 1st written scene – Full outline. The daydream part usually is pretty vivid, and I will try to write out as many details as possible to see if it’s something I can build around. A full outline to me, then, is the combination of many scene sketches that came from numerous daydreams.
6. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?
Interesting question! I nearly all the time focus on what I want to say. I tend to lose the desire to finish a story when I start worrying about salability. Writing what sells to me is writing the same thing everyone else is writing. That’s not exactly where I take issue, though. The part that bothers me about writing what will sell is that doing that drowns out new perspective; it drowns out new voices. If I’m trying so hard to fit into this particular mold, I feel as though I am betraying myself as an artist. So, I just write. I tell the story I want to tell, the story I have to tell. If it sells, great. If not, so be it.
7. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?
Drafting is usually the tougher one to get through. Initially getting the words onto paper still poses a problem to me today. Time is always at a premium, and I’ve never been one to just throw words onto the page to get going. I celebrate every time I get a first draft done. Strangely enough, I probably celebrate more after the first draft than I do when I hit “Publish.”
8. What is your favorite part about being a writer?
My favorite part of being a writer is the artistry. I love the fact that I have the ability to create whole worlds and fill it with people that have thoughts and emotions; people who are heroes and an ugly scar on humanity; people who struggle and who are flawed and those who are victorious. Taking those people and putting what happens to them in words . . . I feel like that’s why I’m here.
9. What are a few of your favorite books of all time?
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is my favorite book of all time. Just the amount of thought I’ve put into the themes and symbolism of the story . . . sheesh. The series that made me feel the most probably is The Circle Series by Ted Dekker. It’s just a wonderfully written and at times beautiful series.
10. How did you learn to write?
Some of it comes natural as I feel that I’m a natural storyteller. Beyond that, I’ve read a LOT of books, and I don’t mean just fiction books. I’ve went through many a “How to write great fiction” book (even the so-called bad ones) and mined each for nuggets of wisdom, new techniques, in depth analysis, etc. And I, of course, wrote a lot.
J. Evan Johnson is a novelist from the Philadelphia area whose goal in writing is to deliver a message of hope despite those things that make life seem hopeless. His writings cover a range of topics including marriage, the consequences of sin, and the reality of our human condition, all of which are packaged into an entertaining story. You can connect with Evan at his website, on Facebook, and on Goodreads.