Monday, March 23, 2015

Querying Author Interview: Lana Wood Johnson

Hi all! Starting today, I'm introducing a new Monday blog series that will continue indefinitely: interviews with querying authors! We're a hard-working bunch, and I want to share the love as much as possible. If you're interested in taking part, please feel free to contact me via email or Twitter. Thanks, everyone!

Our first querying author is:

Lana Wood Johnson

Twitter: @muliebris

How long have you been writing?
This is a complicated question! 

I've been writing characters for twenty years. Before that, I created some pretty terrible poetry that I'm hoping has been lost to time.

I've only been writing novels for the last six years, but for most of that time it was this thing I was kind of doing but not really. It's only been in the last two years that I've decided to really make this my thing.

What inspired the project you’re currently querying?
This is a rough one for NECESSITY, because it's not one thing, it's a whole bunch of factors. 

One aspect comes from wanting to set a story not only in the small town my entire family came from, but also on the farm my grandparents still live on. 

It started out as a book about witches, but it became a book about Norse Mythology after watching the first Thor movie. Their mythology and the original myths are so different, I wanted to play with the source material in my own way. So I started thinking about what the Nine Worlds would be like if they hadn't stopped evolving just like our Midgard hasn't stopped evolving.

What’s your elevator pitch for the project you’re currently querying?
THE RAVEN BOYS meets ABC's Once Upon a Time. 17yo Mel just started Ragnarok, but her bigger problem is the Norn who needs Mel's future to save everyone else's.

What are you working on in the meantime to keep yourself from checking your email every three seconds?
I've just thrown myself into a new WIP that I'm crazy excited about. It's tangentially in the same universe as NECESSITY, but set on Vanaheim (where Grandma and Uncle Chief in the NECESSITY come from) instead of Midgard (our earth). 

It's another strange blend of inspirations because there's not a lot in the original source about Vanaheim. So I borrowed inspiration from Baltic Myth.

I'm referring to it as the Floating Spy Circus and it's a High Fantasy.

What are three books that have shaped you as a writer?
Roger Zelazny's THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER, because if I hadn't read it and fallen in love with that world, I never would have joined the MUSH which means I never would have even considered the possibility that I could ever become a writer. (Dara rules, Corwin drools!)

Patricia A. McKillip's THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, because it was the first story I read that made me realize that sometimes the danger is in messing with the woman who just wants to be left alone.

Tamora Pierce's ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE, because it's my own personal reminder of how important representation is. I realize I can see myself in a lot of other stories, but finding a heroine that had a name even remotely close to mine made me so excited I read the story a thousand times. It makes me want to write characters that reflect those who don't often see themselves in many stories.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or an all-of-the-above-er? What is your writing process?
I like the term "Gardener" that GRRM uses. 

I build the world. I'm responsible for the backstory. I find a few character seeds that I want to plant. But what actually grows is often very different from what I imagine will grow. 

This leads me to tear the whole thing down and start over sometimes, but it also leads to more organic and character driven stories.

What advice would you give to a writer about to take the plunge into querying?
Rejections are perfectly fine. We're seeking a WILDLY enthusiastic business partner on spec. That means putting yourself and your product out there. Anyone less than wildly enthusiastic, or invested any less than a business partner is not worth the energy.

Learn as much as you can from the process. This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you get the perfect agent with your very first query, that's astounding, but it's okay if you don't. Likely you'll need to write a thousand queries, and learn about hundreds of agents, and figure out who you are and what your book is really about before you'll get any traction.

How do you take your caffeine?
Within limits! I only get one (MAYBE two) doses a day. Usually it's a cup of french press with lots of cream and sugar. In a pinch, a couple sticks of Maxim Mocha will do. On days when I'm particularly indulgent it takes the form of a Lavender Miel from the nearby fancy coffee shop, or a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks when I'm in a hurry. 

My ultimate favorite is a Thai or Vietnamese Iced Coffee. (As I said, lots of cream and sugar!) 

That said, I love a good tea, though typically I stick with tisanes or Rooibos since they work well with my one dose a day.

Thank you so much for taking part in the interview series, Lana! Wishing you all the best as you query NECESSITY.

Happy writing!!


Lana Wood Johnson (Muliebris) said...

Thanks so much for letting me answer your questions! They were fun! Can't wait to read everyone else's answers!

Joanna Ruth Meyer said...

Thanks for participating! I really enjoyed all your answers. And that's some super good querying advice, too.