Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what inspired you?
A. I grew up in a letter-writing family. When I was young, my mother read letters to me which had been written by my great, great uncles -- soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. When I was a teenager, I wrote letters home to my parents when I traveled and when I went away to college. Later, after I married, I wrote home about my family and my children. I loved to write and, after awhile, I tried writing stories. When my children were grown and I had grandchildren, I wrote them a story about a boy in Hawaii and what happened to him when a terrible hurricane struck his island. I was describing what had happened to me and to my home on Kauai. A friend of mine sent the story to a publisher in New Zealand who bought it. When I saw my story in a book, I was hooked on writing!
Q. How do you get ideas for stories?
A. Various things inspire me to write and give me ideas -- a hurricane, letters written 135 years ago, a movie or a play. My Brothers' Keeper developed from my love of history and from the experiences of my great, great uncles who wrote home about the Civil War. The book I am working on now is about the Civil War, too, and is inspired by a famous battle in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Q. How long does it take you to complete a book?
A. Some books are easy to write and take only a few weeks. Others, historical fiction, take longer because there is a lot of research needed to make the details accurate. I read a lot of history and my husband and I visit the places where the stories happen. That's a lot of fun, because I love to travel!
Q. Do you have any advice for kids who want to write or illustrate?
A. When a young person asks me what to do to be a writer, I say, "Read, read, read." Read fiction, nonfiction, biography, poetry, plays. Read aloud and listen to the rhythm of the words, how they flow. Build an exciting vocabulary. Keep a journal. Write your grandparents. Write stories about what happens to you and your friends. But, above all, read.
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. I live in Southern California and take time off from writing to be outdoors. I work in my garden, pulling weeds mostly, and take long walks on the beach to watch the shore birds and look for seashells and moonstones.
Click here to visit Nancy Johnson's website
Below is a list of Nancy Johnson books:
My Brother's Keeper : A Civil War Story
All of these books can be purchased at amazon.com