Today on MarjoleinBookBlog, an interview with the one and only Maureen Johnson!
First, my compliments for Suite Scarlett. I finished it recently and
I absolutely loved it. Where did you get the idea for writing Suite Scarlett?
I moved to New York to go to graduate school (post university), to study theater. I was totally broke, but I was thrilled every day. I have been obsessed with New York since I was tiny. So I moved to this glamorous, crazy, expensive, insane place to spend all my days with theater people. Most of my friends were actors.
I had several jobs to make my way through grad school. I was a waitress in a New York haunted house theme restaurant for a while, which was probably the best job I ever had for learning how to read people and think on my feet. We also had the advantage because the place was totally wired with cameras and microphones, so we could see what our customers were doing or communicate with each other through talking skeletons and robots.
I was also hired and flown to Las Vegas where I worked with unchained live tigers in the same room as a malfunctioning smoke machine. It was for a very expensive, high-end sales conference with lots of live entertainments—so half the time I worked on putting together very scientific presentations, and the other half was all circus and comedy. I slept maybe three hours a night, and I did every possible job. The show kind of unfolded around us. There was a man in a bird costume with a 26 foot wingspan who flew across the ceiling into a wall of oversized balloons loaded with electrical charges. And former President George Bush really was there, and I really did get blocked into a tiny room by the secret service. And I got stuck in a back hallway trying to find Jay Leno. That all REALLY HAPPENED, and is not even the half of it.
So Suite Scarlett comes out of these kinds of experiences.
What book or project is coming out or has to come out that you'd like to tell us about?
Well, the sequel! Suite Scarlett is a series! There will be at least three books! I am finishing up the second one now! It's called Scarlett Fever.
What do you like the most of writing for young people?
You guys keep in touch! You get involved with the books, you read a lot, you write, you make your feelings known. I believe that young readers are really the BEST readers.
What are some of your favorite books (not written by you)?
I am always scared of this question. I like a lot of books.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
I usually have some scene in my head--it could be from any part of the book. But I've usually visualized one in detail. So I start there. I don't write my books from beginning to end. I jump all over the story at all times. I kind of think of it like painting a picture--you don't start in one corner and work across the canvas in straight lines--you start with one bit, and you layer and change and add as it builds.
That is a very nice way of saying I have a kind of weird method of working.
Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?
Well, it depends on whether it is a home day or an "out" day. At home, it's sort of a day-long jumble of checking and answering e-mail, writing, pacing, making endless cups of tea, making notes to myself, sticking notes to myself, putting notes on the wall, checking more e-mail, and on and on.
A few days a week, I work with other writers. We meet in Manhattan at a cafe where we've been working for about two years now. We have a table, the staff knows us. Many books have been written at that table! And many cookies have been eaten.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?
I'm not sure about this. All I ever wanted to do was write. So I just want to keep writing. There's a book I've been working on for a long time that I hope to finish off soon . . . but basically, I just want to do this, but more.
Oh, and I want to go to the opening of the Abba Museum.
And maybe come and live in Amsterdam. Because I like it there.
Thank you Maureen!
for more about the books of Maureen Johnson, click here (i just love the New York theme of here site!)