• Havelah Mclat

Chatting with Maria Johnson

Welcome back, friends.

Spring is almost here and a great time to get out and enjoy the warm weather. I know I am. When it is a nice day, I like to take a walk and read a book. In my previous blog "My Winter Reads and Query", I read a fantasy and murder mystery novel, Lottie’s Locket by Maria Johnson. Before we meet the author and ask her a couple of questions, I want to share my thoughts on her novel. Now, let me get this straight, I do enjoy mystery stories but don’t always read murder mystery novels. I may watch mystery movies, yet with books, I can be picky about it. Now, with Lottie’s Locket, I saw it on Instagram by a fellow author I followed.

Lottie’s Locket was released in November 2020. This isn’t the first novel the author wrote. She has also published two adult historical fiction, and this is her first fantasy middle grade novel. I brought myself a copy and read it. I like how she created the characters, especially Lottie. The story itself was really intriguing and the world building was pretty impressive. I will give this book five stars. She did a good job with the characters and conflicts. And now let’s welcome Maria Johnson.

Hi, Maria. Can you tell us about yourself?

Maria: “I’m an author who goes by the pen name Maria Johnson. I’m originally from North Wales and I live in North West England, near Manchester. I’m also a Christian and a minister’s wife. I enjoy writing, reading, walking my dog and a good cup of coffee.”

Nice. Why do you like to write?

Maria: “I’ve always loved to write! I had an active imagination as a child. I love the idea of developing worlds and characters. In fact, I’ve had Daniel, the main character of my first 3 historical fiction novels, in my head since I was about 7.”

Yes, I find it quite challenging but still fun to do. It takes a lot of work, yet it is worthwhile."

What got you started writing? Who inspired you?

Maria: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, but I think I started when I realised the stories I had as a child had never left me. I was inspired by grandmother, who always encouraged me to read, and we would chat about books a lot. I think that then spilled into a love of writing. I also had English teachers who were very inspirational and encouraged me in my writing.”

That is awesome. Now, do you like to write Middle Grade or Young Adult stories?

Maria: “Well actually my main focus has been my adult historical fiction series, set in the post Roman-Celtic era in NW England in 590s AD. However, I had a Middle Grade fantasy novel, Lottie’s Locket, published last November and I really enjoyed writing that.”

Historical fiction is quite a fascinating genre to work in. It would make sense you have love for history and facts about different cultures. And I can understand doing different genres is challenging. What other genres do you like to write in besides historical fiction and fantasy?

Maria: “I enjoy using NaNoWriMo (an online writing challenge to write every day in November and have a 50k novel by the end of the month) to experiment with new genres. fFor example, my last project was YA science fiction. I wouldn’t personally write anything graphic, like erotica or gory horror.”

Same. I don’t think it hurts to try different genres. It is great practice to develop and challenge our creative brains. :D

You published three books, which project is your favorite?

Maria: “I’m not sure I can choose! Like I said I’ve had Daniel in my head for a really long time, but then I also really loved enjoying Lottie’s Locket.”

Since I read Lottie’s Locket, what inspired you to write that story?

Maria: “Lottie’s Locket started out as my first NaNoWriMo project back in 2018. I was inspired by the idea of a fantasy, also writing a mystery aspect to it. The idea of a portal fantasy was probably inspired by Narnia and the famous wardrobe.”

Yes, Narnia has a way of inspiring us to create a portal fantasy between two worlds. With a mystery twist, that’s a cool way to put it. I noticed the story takes place in a fantasy world. What made you choose the locket as key to the story?

Maria: “Well I was thinking of doing a portal fantasy and I was actually thinking of character names. The name Lottie popped into my head and then it just seemed to fit with the idea of a locket really well, so then Lottie’s Locket was born.”

Ah, that makes sense. Can you share with the audience the brief summary of the story?

Maria: “The story is about Lottie’s adventure in Orovand. We meet Lottie quite grumpy about having to stay with her aunt in rural Yorkshire, especially since it means her parents are missing her birthday. Then on the night she turns 11, Lottie opens a birthday present from her parents to reveal an old and mysterious locket. The next thing she knows, Lottie is whisked away to the realm of Orovand! Lottie enjoys her new adventure and making new friends, but after something happens in the palace and her locket is stolen, Lottie must solve the case in order to get back home.”

Are you planning to do more of Lottie’s Locket stories?

Maria: “At the moment it’s a stand-alone, but you never know!”

Yes, that’s understandable. Every story is different. Now you published three novels, will there be more books by you in the future?

Maria: “At the moment I’m proofreading my 3rd historical fiction novel in my series. I’m hoping to submit it to my publishers by the end of the month, maybe to have it published early next year. In January I started writing what I hope will be the 4th in the series, so it would be great to maybe have that published in the next few years.”

Exciting! Now before we end the interview, what advice do you like to share with young writers when it comes to writing MG or YA?

Maria: “Like with most writing things, I’d advise people thinking about writing MG or YA to give it a go. I’d never tried writing middle grade, or fantasy as a genre, but I really enjoyed it. I’d recommend NaNoWriMo for a way of experimenting with new writing.”

Maria, I appreciated joining us and sharing your journey with us.

Maria: “Thanks for having me!”

If you want to check out Maria’s books, head over to mariajohnsonauthor.com/purchase-links

You can also sign up for a newsletter too at mariajohnsonauthor.com/newsletter, or check out her blog at mariajohnsonauthor.com/blog Check her out on social medias Instagram @mariajauthor Facebook.com @mariajauthor or Twitter.com @mariajauthor


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