Interview with Rose Chandler Johnson
About the Author
My Father’s House is Rose’s first novel. Her devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments won the Georgia Author of the Year Finalist Award in 2014. It was also awarded the Selah Finalist Award in the same year. Rose enjoys writing for her blog, Write Moments with God and engaging with her readers. A native Georgian, Rose has lived in a suburb of Augusta for the last thirty years. Before retiring from Georgia’s public school system, Rose taught English, French, and ESOL. She is currently an adjunct English instructor at a community college. In addition to reading and writing, Rose enjoys cooking, sewing, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their growing families. And yes, sweet iced tea is her beverage of choice.
1. Tell us a bit about how the story came about:
I wanted to write a story about a young woman who in spite of devastating hardships, disappointments, personal loss and mistakes ultimately finds happiness after reconnecting with family and faith. I wanted the reader to take the journey with her, go with her through some of the hardships, but I didn’t want the painful things to be the focus of her triumphant story. Lily Rose has an indomitable spirit and warm heart that is endearing to readers. Her father believed that she would be alright; the reader wants to know she will be too. With my roots firmly planted in Georgia, the setting had to play a critical part in the story. So, I modelled my fictional town after so many small southern towns and I set in some of my love of nature and gardening. Being a Southerner, I had definite ideas about elements I needed for this story to come alive. Besides fascinating characters and a distinctive setting, there had to be a little crazy, eccentric, and some downright mean, mixed with suspense, romance, and lots of southern charm.
2. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
As a child, when I was no more than eight or nine, I wrote plays for my two sisters and brother and I to perform in a large back room of our house. I can’t imagine why they always listened to my directions. My stage name was always the most beautiful actress’ name I could think up at the time – Sandra Blake. Later, in high school, I dreamed of being a writer one day and started writing in college.
3. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Naming a character is a big decision. A name has many associations, ethnic and national, to name a couple; therefore, I do put some time and thought into choosing names. But, basically, I go with what sounds suitable and fitting for the heritage and personality of the character. Lily Rose could have only been a southern girl named after the flowers in the spring.
4. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I’m still working on the greatest roadblock, which is managing my time to write. My family has always been my priority, so I have to work very hard to carve out time to write. Often I have to give myself permission to make writing time for me.
5. Tell us about the featured book?
One reviewer called it “a triumphant story of hope.” I think that describes it. I am reminded of the verse Psalms 27:13: I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
6. When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
In spite of devastating hardships, disappointments, and mistakes, God has a good future in mind for each of us. I want my readers to feel the joy and hope expressed by Lily Rose.
7. What are you working on next?
I’m working on two projects – a devotional and another novel. The devotional is coming together nicely. It’s written in the same format as my devotional, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea. I’d put it aside for other more pressing demands, and now I’m ready to complete it. I’ve started doing the research for my next novel and developing my main characters. They have to become real to me; I have to know them inside and out, before I can make them come alive for my readers.
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