Q&A: Sherri Wilson Johnson
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WRITING SONG OF THE MEADOWLARK?
Whenever I write, I do it to express things that are deep in my heart and in my mind. Usually God starts stirring things in me while I'm sleeping. I wake up and make notes and mull things over for a while. Even my regular monthly blogs I write are usually the result of weeks of contemplating. I remember when I started Song of the Meadowlark, I had the idea of a road trip. Someone leaving home to discover something about themselves. You know, just getting out of town away from everyone. I wanted to write a story set in Wyoming on a ranch and so those two things came together. But when I was finished, I had a good story but something just wasn't quite right. As it turns out, I knew very little about the landscape of Wyoming and so it just wasn't real enough. I changed the setting to a South Georgia ranch since I was born and raised as a Georgia peach and everything began to flow. That's when I realized that it wasn't only the heroine who needed to run away from things in her life. The hero did too. And they both needed help. So my goals in writing Song of the Meadowlark were to entertain readers but also to inspire them and offer them hope that second chances are always possible.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH STORY TO WRITE?
I think the stories choose me. I have a notebook full of ideas for stories but so far only four of them have produced full length novels. I have been known to work on more than one novel at a time. It's just that whatever hits me with inspiration the first of each day is what gets written.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES FROM THE STORY WHERE YOU DREW ELEMENTS FROM REAL LIFE?
Cora, the heroine, has been abandoned by her husband and after a year of waiting for him to return she decides to leave South Carolina and return to her childhood home in Florida to mend her relationship with her parents. Later, Cora finds out that her husband has been killed and she has to deal with the grief. Although I was never abandoned by anyone, my mother died unexpectedly. I was a young mother pregnant with my second child and even though I have a wonderful mother-in-law, it was tough going through that stage in life without my own mother. I felt abandoned by her. I was able to draw from that pain when writing Song of the Meadowlark.
IN YOUR NEW NOVEL, WHO IS THE CHARACTER IN THIS STORY WHO SURPRISED YOU MOST?
Well, I can't tell you his/her name because I will give away a big part of the book's suspense but there is a character who turns out to be responsible for the missing and murdered women in the town of Southern Hope. I didn't know until near the end who the killer would be. I've had readers tell me that they couldn't believe it when the identity was revealed.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I am a columnist for Choose Now Ministry (http://nicoleodell.com/sherri-wilson-johnson-on-inspiring-purity) and for Habits for a Happy Home (http://www.habitsforahappyhome.com/) so I'm always working on posts for them. My current fiction WIP, After the Raging Storm, is part of my New Hope Series, set in drought-stricken Georgia in 1894. Annabelle is engaged to the son of the town's copper supplier but feels uneasy about the whole thing. She's searching for the meaning of her life apart from this relationship. When she runs into an old friend from school and compares him to her fiance, she begins to doubt her chosen path in life even more. As the storm rages inside her heart, a storm of a natural kind threatens to destroy her family home and the neighboring farms. What will it take to calm the raging storm inside Annabelle?