Merry Christmas Eve, dear readers! A project of mine I am proud to be starting with the new year is this: I will feature authors every Saturday. These authors might be friends, new indie authors who deserve a spotlight, or those who have written books I really loved.
I am pleased and honored to have Angela Johnson on board as the first author to guest blog on my site. Her novel Mr. Fernley and the Lady was one of my top 10 favorite reads of the year. I will compile a list of favorite books and publish in a day or two.
She is a remarkable writer and a wonderful person. Get to know her through this blog post, and give her books a read! You won’t regret it!
My name is Angela Johnson, and I can’t express how excited I am to be a guest on Mariella Hunt’s blog. Since she has given me the choice of topic, I’d like to share with you the process that goes into each book and each of the series I have written.
Sharing my thoughts with the world was the bravest and scariest thing I have ever done. And to put that statement into context, the bravest thing I’d ever done before that was to live in a foreign country. While I was there, I slid down a mountain, in the snow, on my backside without a sled and then I walked for hours to find a train station in the cold and dead of night. It was a bit crazy. And I have many more stories just like that. At the time they were brave and bold, but as I look back it was a different kind of bravery.
Giving my thoughts to the world in books of fiction was braver, bolder, scarier, (add whatever word works for you in this context! It was like nothing I had done before.)
Why is it so frightening for a writer to share their hopes and dreams through the written word? That’s an easy answer. It is because every writer discovers a harsh reality that their books aren’t for everyone. Today with the use of keyboards and anonymity, readers can be cruel.
I knew about reader reviews going into the process, and so I put on a brave face and shared my first book, The Earl of Arundel. To my horror, and delight, I started receiving reviews.
When I set out to write that first book, I had a list of what I wanted for my characters.
- A loving family unit. Parents who cared about each other and their children.
- A happily ever after.
- A marriage of circumstances trope that would turn into true love.
If you’ve read that book, you are probably wondering what happened. The characters happened.
I can do all the plotting and organizing over a manuscript that I want, but when I sit down to write the book it turns out much different than I planned. Yes, the original idea is somewhere within the mix, but the book takes twists and turns that were never expected. It seems to me that the characters came to life and took over to ensure they got the story they deserved.
So, with that last statement am I insinuating that the Earl of Arundel deserved an abusive father? No, I’m not. No one deserves to be treated with cruelty. But what I found through writing that book was that evil exists in the world and not everyone has a beautiful family life. I found myself exploring the possibility of having a character so evil and devious that he would put himself above his family, and that was the only way the book worked.
My original final manuscript ended with the death of Duke Ashby. It had this lovely scene where the Earl visited his father’s death bed and forgave him for the abuse. I felt killing the duke off in a horrible way, in which he suffered greatly, would make readers happy. It didn’t. When the beta readers came back to me, they hated that Ashby found no redemption and he never apologized.
That feedback from readers gave me a new ending to the book, which is far lovelier, and it opened the possibility of writing a series and exploring an arc for a much-hated character. One day I will write Duke Ashby’s book, but for now, I am still working through the series focusing on his children.
Since the Earls of England series deals with the dark topic of generational family abuse, I thought a lighter series would find audiences searching for escape. This spurred me to start writing the series, An Assignation to Remember. I started with the book Wit & Intrigue. I wanted a series that had a traditional family. My goals with this series were as follows.
- Two parents who guide their children through Society and help them find spouses.
- Siblings who fight and have rivalries but will stand up for each other when necessary.
- Each character would find a happily ever after.
So far, I have been successful with this series and the characters have kept to my goals. Although I wanted an always positive happy family, I realized that even the happiest of families have children who argue and don’t always get along. For one of my characters, I currently have a happy for now scenario, but I’m sure her HEA is not far in the future.
Since I am a writer and constantly coming up with new ideas, I had the fortunate problem of a character intruding into my writing. He didn’t belong in either of my first two series. Baxter Fernley, The Earl of Grafton would not leave me alone, and so I started a third series, The Fernley Family. Why didn’t he fit the mold of the other two series? It is simply because he was dealing with grief.
I know a little bit about grief. I won’t pretend to know as much as others, but I lost my eldest brother a few years ago and I’ve never fully gone back to myself. The biggest change in my life is that I am more emotional. Simple things will put tears into my eyes. At first it was horrible, now it is something I am used to, and I no longer feel shame for my emotions. I just buy lots and lots of tissues and always have a packet on hand.
The characters of Baxter Fernley and Briar Kensington formed from my struggle with grief. I was able to explore death with these characters.
My goals with this series:
- Create characters that each have a part of me inside them.
- The struggle of grief and learning a new normal.
- Exploration of the world in different forms. I wanted to bring more than the British Aristocracy into this book.
- A happy well-balanced family.
The biggest obstacle for me with this series has been the third goal. In the first book I brought an American into the mix. The second book took place in Scotland. The third book, which is releasing in February took us to Egypt. So far things have worked out, but for the fourth and fifth books I have had to find a bit of creativity to keep up with my third goal. We will see if I am successful. These characters truly have minds of their own.
As a writer I want to create a world that readers are excited to enter. I love Regency England, and I hope through my books readers will discover the delights of a London season or the beauty of the English countryside!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my books and the process I go through as an author.
You can find my books on Amazon, YouTube, Audible, Chirp, and some are even in the library system. Follow me at https://www.angelajohnsonauthor.org and sign up for my newsletter.