Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An interview with historical author Myra Johnson

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She is a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband have two beautiful daughters and seven grandchildren ranging in age from 19 down to 1 month. Although Myra is a native Texan, she and her husband now reside in North Carolina, sharing their home with two spoiled lapdogs.

Myra will be giving away one copy of her latest book, Whisper Goodbye, to one of our visitors this week. Just leave a comment with your answer to this question from her:

What’s your favorite vacation spot and why?

Hello, Myra, and thanks for joining us at Novel PASTimes! We’re glad to have this chance to learn more about you and your books, especially your brand-new release, Whisper Goodbye! Tell us a little bit about the storyline.

Crippled both physically and emotionally by his war injuries, First Lt. Gilbert Ballard struggles to find himself again in civilian life. After breaking his engagement to Annemarie Kendall, he has found solace in the arms of Mary McClarney, a spunky Irish immigrant nurse he met at the Army and Navy Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Yet Mary’s love for Gilbert goes unreturned. As she longs for the day when Gilbert will finally let go of the past and learn to love her as she loves him, she realizes that the only way to open Gilbert’s heart is to whisper her goodbyes . . . and pray God will bring them back together.

Introduce us briefly to the main characters in Whisper Goodbye.

Mary and Gilbert first met in When the Clouds Roll By, book 1 in the series, but their relationship suffered when Gilbert allowed jealousy over Annemarie’s new love drive him to a desperate act of betrayal. In Whisper Goodbye, he is working hard to make amends, turn his life around, and become worthy of Mary’s love. A working-class girl, Mary struggles to be accepted by Gilbert’s mother, a wealthy society matron. Additionally, Mary must confront painful memories from her own past before she can fully trust Gilbert with her heart.

You also have a brand-new release on Kindle – Pearl of Great Price. Tell us about that one, too, please.

Raised by her grandfather after her mother died, flea market manager Julie Pearl Stiles promised herself she’d postpone the search for her absentee father until the truth could no longer hurt Grandpa. Then one crazy June day ushers in a series of discoveries that threaten to turn Julie’s peaceful, small-town life upside down. Her encounter with Little Rock socialite Renata Channing seems more than coincidental, but equally disconcerting is her grandfather’s immediate dislike for real estate entrepreneur Micah Hobart, the man Julie is falling for. As Julie is drawn deeper into the tragic past Micah and Renata share, she finds herself questioning everything she’s ever believed about herself, her family, and her future.

Both those stories sound wonderful! Your books include both historical and more contemporary romances. Do you have a preference for one over the other? What kinds of challenges are there with writing both?

I started out writing contemporary romances and had little confidence in my ability to write successfully in the historical genre. It was only when the idea for When the Clouds Roll By took hold that I was compelled to see where it went. I found myself fascinated by the research, and soon the idea developed into a three-book series.

Another historical idea has been germinating, but it’s on the back burner for now as I work on a new contemporary series that was recently contracted for Heartsong Presents. Each genre has its own challenges. For a historical, it’s making sure the language is true to the era, setting details are correct, and real events are portrayed accurately. But even for writing contemporary novels, a certain amount of research is always necessary. If you get it wrong, some astute reader will notice!

Historical fiction requires a lot of research. What’s the most interesting (or unusual, or funny) thing you’ve done in the name of research for a book?

It’s definitely interesting and fun to write about a setting where my husband and I have vacationed nearly every year since the 1980s. Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the setting for my Till We Meet Again series, so the past few years we’ve spent our Hot Springs week gathering even more information as we walked around historic downtown, snapped photos of old buildings, toured the local museums, and browsed through the collections at the Garland County Historical Society.

You tell on your website about how the dream to be a writer persisted for many years before you started acting on it. Will you share that with our visitors?

Sorry, visitors, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear Myra’s answer to this one. And you won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, don’t forget to answer Myra’s question for your chance to win a copy of Whisper Goodbye. Leave a comment with your name and email (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam). A winner will be drawn Friday morning. A U.S. winner will have the choice of a hard copy or e-book; if the winner lives outside the U.S., you’ll receive the e-book version.

Here’s the question again:

What’s your favorite vacation spot and why?

Thanks for stopping by! We’ll see you again tomorrow for more with Myra Johnson. 


Sandra Leesmith said...

Great interview and peek at Myra's books. I love her writing so am looking forward to her latest releases. Thanks for featuring such a wonderful writer.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Forgot to mention my favorite vacation spot. It would be a toss up between Lake Tahoe and SunRiver, Oregon. Both have such a variety of things to do and see. The summer weather is perfect. No annoying bugs and gorgeous scenery.

Don't enter me in the drawing though as I already have her books and am looking forward to reading them.

Danie Walther said...

Hi! Please lest me start off by saying that your book cover is absolutely beautiful and outstanding!!
I love romance books.
Also I wanted to tell you wear my favorite vaction spot is, my favorite spot to vacation at which I have not done in a long time would have to be up in Yosemety National Park! It's a great place to get away and see Gods amazing and outstanding handy work in his creation. I would take my camera and just have fun while I am up there.
Thanks for letting me participate in the free giveaway

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Sandra! I've visited Lake Tahoe but have never been to Oregon. Great scenery AND no bugs? Sounds delightful!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Danie! I am always so pleased with Abingdon's book covers. They do a great job of capturing my vision for the story.

I've also been to Yosemite, but it was many, many years ago. I do remember it was beautiful. There are so many wonderful places right here in the U.S. that I still hope to visit someday.

Anonymous said...

Hello to Myra. I love to hear about the author's life. It is always interesting to hear their likes and dislikes, how they research, etc. The covers are always what catches my eye first then the title. I have the first book of this series in my TBR pile.Would love to win this one to go with it. My favorite vacation spot would be Jackson Hole, WY. where I could look at the beautiful Teton mountains, and all of the lakes. Nothing like seeing the wonderful Tetons reflecting in the beautiful Jackson Lake. Then of course, the other attractions and animals you can see. I lived there for 6 years and loved it. But I love the area of Colorado where the Rockies are. Honeymooned in Colorado Springs. A wonderful place to vacation. But, most vacations were spent going to see the two sets of parents, when we had a chance. Now, I hardly ever get to travel. I love the war settings and themes also since my oldest brrother and brother-in-laws, and other relatives served in WW ll. Then my other two brothers served in later years, and many in later generations. Thanks for this give-away. Thanks Leigh Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

KayM said...

Whisper Goodbye sounds like it has some heart-wrenching scenes.

My favorite place to vacation is Alaska. I've been there 3 times, but there is so much to see, I'm sure I'd enjoy going many more times. It's pretty amazing.

Myra Johnson said...

Nice to "meet" you, Leigh! I've never been to Wyoming, but it sounds gorgeous (at least in the warmer months)! My husband and I honeymooned at Estes Park, and I agree--the Rockies are breathtaking!

We also have several family members who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Our #1 grandson just enlisted in the navy.

Myra Johnson said...

Kay, I do hope to visit Alaska someday. We've heard so many good things about the Alaskan cruises.

Thanks for visiting, and I appreciate your interest in my book!