After an accidental 3 months away from my author interview series (and blog as a whole), I’m back! The first author back to my blog is Lynn Johnson. You might recognise her name from one of my book reviews earlier in the year; Wartime With The Tram Girls. This was the first wartime saga I’ve ever read and I was a tad apprehensive going into it as I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, this book proved to be everything I wanted and more! It was one of the first 5 stars I gave to a book in 2021 and I firmly stick by my decision for it to be a 5 star read.
If you’d like to read my blog tour review of Wartime With The Tram Girls then click here. At the bottom of this post will be links to her work (which I’d highly recommend checking out!).
Lynn is a fantastic author and I really loved reading through her responses to the questions I sent. I hope you enjoy!
At what point did you decide to be an author / publish books?
Writing was something I took up later in life. I was lucky to be able to retire in my 50’s and I began researching my family tree. To my absolute shock I discovered that my Grandma had been in the local workhouse as a child. Seeing the entry written down, in black and white, moved me considerably. Soon after, my husband and I moved to Orkney and the first thing I did was join Stromness Writing Group. One of the first short stories I wrote was about Grandma and, years later, it became the prologue for my first book, The Girl from the Workhouse. A member of the Group said I had a Catherine Cookson flair and should write a novel. I wrote and re-wrote that first book, did various short courses on writing techniques, editing and so on. When I decided to take it seriously, I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and, I am very pleased to say, everything fell into place from that point. It is still a novelty to think of myself as an author!
How do you overcome writer’s block?
So far, writer’s block hasn’t been too bad for me. I would say that all writers have days when the words flow less freely than others. Something that worked for me was finishing the day half-way through a scene. When I first started to write professionally I tried to write to the end of a chapter. I picked up a tip from somewhere – I can’t remember where, that stopping half-way through a piece of writing means it’s easier to pick up and run with in the next session. So I now write in scenes rather than chapters and am able to continue with the next session because I’ve already worked out what I want to say.
Was there anything you edited out of a book that you later wished you kept in?
I can’t think of anything, to be honest. I go through suggested edits with my editor, Keshini Naidoo at Hera Books, and we discuss possible changes and the reasons why. Usually we can agree which ideas to run with. I think if you have a valid reason for keeping something it, it’s worth talking about. Perhaps I’ve been lucky.
How do you find the inspiration for new novels and storylines?
Inspiration for new novels has been ok so far because I am writing a series although I didn’t start to write it as one. When I was writing The Girl from the Workhouse, I introduced a character called Connie and Connie was determined to play a bigger part in the story than I had anticipated. So much so that she became the protagonist of the second book, Wartime with the Tram Girls. I interview my characters and find out what they have to tell me about their life and I have to say, she’s a marvellous character to work with.
If you could give one tip to someone wanting to get into writing, what would it be?
I think the tip that started me off was starting to read writing magazines where I discovered there were such things as writing groups. Before I joined a group, I didn’t know anyone who wrote and it all seemed to be the stuff of dreams. When I joined the Group, I learned to write at a set time ie during the meeting, for about 40 minutes and then to read out what I had written which, for a beginner, was quite scary. But I learned so much during that time. I learned to develop both plot and characters and that writing is a work in progress for as long as you need it to be. But, at some point, you have to come off the fence and send it out into the world.
What made you choose to write a war time saga?
I rather fell into it, I think. Because the story was loosely based on Grandma’s story, it covers the period from 1911 through to the end of the Great War. Some of what happened to Ginnie, in The Girl from the Workhouse, actually happened to my Grandma, and that dictated the period I was writing about. It was unbelievable that workhouses were still open in Edwardian Britain; I associated workhouses with the Charles Dicken era. My biggest problem was moving from writing fact to fiction. I had to give myself permission to make that leap before I could move on – a different type of writer’s block, you might say.
What period of history do you find most interesting and would you ever write a book set in that period?
I love the Wars of the Roses period. In fact, a few years ago I was a member of the Richard III Society. I have a load of books about him and I am a firm believer that he did not kill the princes in the tower! But – I don’t think I could write about the period. The period I write about appears to have chosen me and I love developing strong characters living in my home city of Stoke-on-Trent.
If Wartime with the Tram Girls was made into an audiobook, who would you want to read it?
Actually, Wartime with the Tram Girls is due to be published as an audiobook later this year by Ulverscroft. On narration, I was so lucky! The first book was narrated by an actor, Julia Franklin, who originates from The Potteries had the dialect perfectly. I would love for her to narrate the Tram Girls too.
Can you tell us anything about the next book you plan to release?
I am well into the third book in my Potteries Girls series at the moment. I can tell you that it features some friends from the previous two books, and tells the story of one of them. We find out a lot more about the character and what made them who they are. As with the first two, it takes place during the second decade of the twentieth century. I find it amazing just how much all my characters have to tell me about themselves!
Is there another genre of writing you’d like to explore in the future?
I do have ideas for novels for the future, but they would most probably be sagas or historical. I have, unwittingly as I said, fallen into the genre that suits me best. I might fancy trying timeslip or dual time with a historical bent – who knows? I certainly love to read them. However, I have a fourth novel to write under my current contract and that will also be part of the Potteries Girls series. What happens after that – well, we’ll just have to wait and see!
A little bit extra about Lynn:
I come from a working-class background and that’s what I like to write about. I left school at 15 and started to work but I gave it up to study O Levels once I realised that I needed qualifications in order to become a teacher or a librarian. I achieved my qualification objectives mainly through evening classes in my own time, studying for an OU degree while working fulltime, and obtaining a postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies. After several promotions I became an HR Manager. I proved I could write, but progressing from writing reports to writing fiction was difficult. It was after taking early retirement that I started writing fiction. I joined a local writing group which got me used to writing and reading out loud in public. Over the years I did my author apprenticeship by signing up for various short courses and, more recently, joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. My first novel was published in 2020 and I am now the proud author of two historical sagas.
The Girl from the Workhouse
Wartime with the Tram Girls
Kobo : http://bit.ly/3tlMQQX
Lynn’s Social Media:
Facebook: Lynn Johnson Author
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