Interview with Elana!
So I, like everyone else, am blown away by the fact that you wrote the 1st draft on Possession in 17 days. How different is the Possession we're all reading from that draft?
Ah, yes. Revision = my best friend. Sort of. The overall vision and storyline of Possession didn’t change. Just the words that get the reader from A to B did. A lot of the words. I eliminated 3 characters. Rewrote about 60 pages near the end. Cut over 15,000 words. Added in 3000 more. That kind of thing. But the beginning, the main character, the theme, and the ending have all remained cornerstones.
What was the book that was most influential on you as a writer and why?
There were two books that I read that got me started as an author. TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer. When I read that series, I thought I might try to write a book. And UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld. After I read that book, I researched what dystopia was and thought, “I want to write in that genre.”
What would you like to see more of in YA fiction? What could you do with less of?
Time travel! I asked the clerk at Books of Wonder in New York City if there was any YA time travel, and she couldn’t come up with anything. Finally, after she’d gone back to her job, she came over and had written down RUBY RED for me. It wasn’t out at the time, but I think there could be some more time travel in the YA field. This may be terrible, because I have one of these in my own book, but I’m getting a little tired of the hot bad boy. No, really. Ha!
What draws you to speculative fiction? Do you ever see yourself writing a realistic contemporary novel?
Speculative fiction is a love of mine. I love that the author can write from their imagination, and that things can be however I want them to be. The possibilities are endless! I can see myself writing in a contemporary setting. There’s something wonderful about real life too, and it’s sorrows and joys.
What's your biggest challenge as a writer?
Overcoming self-doubt. There’s always that little voice in the back of my head, whispering that I’m not good enough, or that my book is terrible. You know?
How would you describe your teen self? Do you see that teen in your writing today?
Oh, I was the studious, academic, band vice-president type. I took 5 AP classes and actually was the marching band vice president! The worst thing I did was drive too fast. I even made it home by curfew every weekend. And I definitely don’t see that teen in my writing. Why? She’s sort of boring. And as an author, I want to live vicariously through someone who dares to skip class and kiss boys under the bleachers.
There's alot of talk about good and bad in your book. What's your personal definition of good and evil?
Oooh, going deep. I like that. I’m a very religious person, so I tend to base what I call “good” and what I call “evil” based on that belief system. I believe in doing and saying things that will help and lift and inspire another. Here’s a quote: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (Articles of Faith 1:13)
So I try to judge against that. If an activity is the opposite of virtuous or lovely or praiseworthy, I tend not to bring it into my life. I don’t necessarily think it’s evil, I just choose not to let it into my life.
Ok, let's not beat around the bush people. You want this book. You need this book. Go here and get this book. If you want to experience a little more of the delightful Ms. Johnson, you can go here.
But seriously, go here.
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.