Friday, August 14, 2015

Tennessee Author Johnnie Alexander

 Welcome back to the Book Loft, Johnnie! Is there a story behind your book Where Treasure Hides?

The male protagonist, Ian Devlin, first appeared as a major secondary character in an unpublished manuscript that friends of mine just loved. They begged for a sequel, but since that novel spanned decades, a sequel didn’t seem feasible.

But while doing research for that story, I became fascinated by how much art the Nazis had stolen during the war and the measures taken by some museums to hide their treasures. I also watched a couple of documentaries about “hidden children”—children who were hidden away during the war, some on remote farms, one in a cupboard where he sat all day in a chair.

All these elements came together as I imagined Ian’s love story, an invaluable painting, and a young orphan. My friends loved it, and thankfully so did the Genesis judges and Tyndale. (The manuscript won the 2011 Genesis historical fiction category.)

What started you on your writing journey?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I often subscribed to writing magazines and read every writing book I could find. But I didn’t believe in my ability to write fiction until I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2003. Though that draft is a total mess I long ago buried, the experience of writing 50,000 unedited words taught me that I could create characters and something resembling a story arc.

I participated again in 2005. That draft is messy, too, but I worked with it now and again, and especially in the past couple of years. After major revisions and title changes, it will release from Revell in January 2016.

The lesson here: never give up on a good story.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

My favorites are well-written stories that linger in my heart after I close the pages. I especially like WWII books, both nonfiction and fiction, and books on writing and spiritual growth.

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin is a terrific novel set during WWII. I loved the way she related her story to the Biblical book of Esther.

Anne Perry has an in-depth WWI series that kept me reading late at night.

I read at least one Dickens novel a year and try to read one or two other classics, too. As I’m answering these questions, I’m reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Glancing through my Kindle, I see stories by Lynette Eason, Dan Walsh, Elizabeth Camden, Lisa Harris—so many other great writers—all waiting to be read. (I think I need a book-cation to catch up!)

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?

This is a hard question. Wow!

I live on a farm so I suppose the default answer would be Country and Western. And I am a C&W fan.

But I also like sweet, tender songs such as “Pooh’s Corner.”

{lightbulb!} Movie soundtracks. I love movie soundtracks. The Rohan theme in the Lord of the Ring movies, the songs to Les Miserables and The Secret Garden. So many others. I choose movie-music!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Since moving from a Florida subdivision to a Tennessee farm, I’ve done lots of things I never thought I’d do. I’m not sure about the “quirkiness” factor, but in the past year I’ve held day-old bunnies, cleaned the bottoms of baby chicks, syringed medicine into an alpaca’s ear, been spat on by that same alpaca, hefted bags of feed and bales of hay, disposed of dead things, tended a fireplace, accidentally tazed my comforter, cut twine with my own pocketknife, and singlehandedly maneuvered a 200-pound pig into a crate. 

Sounds challenging! What is your favorite season of the year?

Even though there are only four, it’s hard to choose just one. I lived in Florida for over twenty years and loved our subtle season changes. Of course, our seasons are different than elsewhere as we mainly have two: hurricane and non-hurricane.

If I must choose, I’ll say spring. How wondrous to see green poking through the earth and closed buds opening into white and yellow daffodils. To clean out the fireplace for the last time till winter comes again. To twirl outside without the encumbrance of a jacket. To hold baby rabbits and watch the alpaca kick up their heels.

There’s a joy in spring unlike any other season.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

During the summers, my parents often took us to Old Man’s Cave and the other parks in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio. We picnicked, hiked, ran around, and played games. But the most memorable trip there was on a New Year’s Day. Icicles clung to the trees and the ground was covered with snow. Our familiar summer playground had been transformed into a mysterious winter wonderland. On the way home, we stopped for hot chocolate—another special treat.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

I think family heritage, both as a blessing and a burden, are themes found in Where Treasure Hides and my next novel. My personal themes of God’s steadfast love and His preparation/provision may not be implicitly stated but are an integral thread in my stories.

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.  

One of my favorites is Proverbs 31:25 which says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” This verse is often a mantra to me when I’m facing a difficult situation, and it’s a verse I give my daughters when they’re facing something hard and tough. This verse is also central to Where Treasure Hides.

My life-verse is Colossians 3:1-3 which instructs us to set our hearts and minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

I love the encouragement to focus on heavenly things with my emotions and my thoughts, to trust my entire self into God’s keeping.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next novel, tentatively titled Into a Spacious Place, is the first in a series of contemporary romances. It releases from Revell in January 2016 followed by releases in September 2015 and May 2017.

I don’t have the official back cover copy yet, but here’s the blurb from the proposal:

Recently widowed Shelby Kincaid longs to give her young daughters a happy childhood—just like the one Shelby had until tragedy struck shortly after her 14th birthday. Her beloved grandparents died unexpectedly, and a businessman with a decades-old grudge took possession of their ancestral home. The Ohio farm, known as Mystic Willow, is the only place Shelby ever belonged, and she’ll do whatever it takes to transform the neglected house into the home of her memories.

High school history teacher AJ Sullivan inherited Mystic Willow from his grandfather as a punishment for dropping out of law school. With no close family ties, AJ fears he can’t be the husband or father God wants him to be. He’s already failed once in the hero department. Big time. Besides, that legacy doesn’t run in his family.


After Shelby learns the tragic circumstances of her grandfather’s untimely death, will she be able to forgive AJ for the pain his family caused hers? Or will she realize that home isn’t about a place—it’s about people?

Looking forward to more from you. Thanks for sharing with us today!

Connect with Johnnie Alexander at:

Blog  
Facebook    

Johnnie Alexander is giving away a copy of Where Treasure Hides. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.



18 comments:

sm said...

Interesting always to read war stories where people fall in love from different locations and even opposite sides. Sm. wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kate said...

A new author for me to try! Thanks for the introduction!

kathrynlvoss(at)gmail(dot)com

Caryl Kane said...

I enjoy reading books about WWII. I would love to read this one.

psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

Anonymous said...

love trying new authors! Your book sounds interesting! Shelia Hall sheliarha64@yahoo.com

Deanna Stevens said...

I enjoy this type book. thanks for a chance to win a copy :)
dkstevensneAToutlookD oTCoM

Amy Putney said...

Such a fun and interesting interview! "Where Treasure Hides" sounds wonderful! Hope to read it soon!

amyputney89 [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com. Kim

Britney Adams said...

I need a book-cation, too! Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview and giveaway!

texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

Johnnie Alexander said...

Hey, everyone! How much fun to get online and see all your comments! I've been traveling today, flying from Memphis to Tampa where I'm visiting my daughter, son-in-law and three adorable grandsons.

I also have news to share! My next novel now has a new title: Where She Belongs. You can see the cover on my website at johnnie-alexander.com.

Thanks again everyone for your encouragement. I really appreciate it.

Pam K. said...

I read the Anne Perry World War I series Johnnie mentioned; it was very good. There are so many wonderful books to read, I'll probably never read all the ones I'd like to because of time constraints. I would like to read Where Treasure Hides though. Thanks for the chance to win it.

pmkellogg56[at]gmail[dot]com

Connie said...

I am also a fan of movie soundtrack music. I used to be a library cataloger and some of my most productive work was done while listening to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera!
I look forward to reading your book.
Connie
cps1950ATgmailDOTcom

Anonymous said...

Great interview and thanks for a chance to win.kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom. Kim

Marion Ueckermann said...

Johnnie, great interview. You know how much I love your writing and this story. I look forward to the new series. No need to enter me as I have this book on Kindle and I believe a signed copy winging it's way to me at ACFW Conference in a few weeks. So wish it were you, though, my friend,]...in person :) One day!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Pam, I'm so glad I found Anne Perry's WWI series. I'd like to read more of her stories, but I'm like you--so hard to find the time.

Connie, the Les Mis soundtrack is one of my favorites. The novel is perhaps my favorite of all time.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Marion, your copy is already with our go-between courier! So yep, you'll be getting it at conference. I hope someday to meet you, too. Glad to see you here today.

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Johnnie,

Just stopped by to wish you well w/your sales, and I learned yet ANOTHER fact about you. Well, several, the alpaca injection, the baby chickies' bottom cleaning, and…

You live a fascinating life! See you tomorrow on my blog.

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Johnnie,

Just stopped by to wish you well w/your sales, and I learned yet ANOTHER fact about you. Well, several, the alpaca injection, the baby chickies' bottom cleaning, and…

You live a fascinating life! See you tomorrow on my blog.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Oh, my, Gail. I'd forgotten all about cleaning the chick's bottom. That's something I had to learn to do--who knew they even needed cleaning?? Well, sometimes they do. I've done a lot things in the past year or so I'd never done before!

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