One week ago, I asked three good friends who write both novels and poetry, Stephen Swartz, Shaun Allan, and Maria V.A. Johnson to each answer the same 5 questions about how they approach writing both poetry and novels. (Which is why my questions might seem familiar.) It’s amazing how differently they have answered.
Part 1, Stephen Swartz can be found if you click on this link.
Part 2, Shaun Allan can be found if you click on this link.
I first met Maria when she joined Myrddin Publishing Group, the indie publishing cooperative I have been involved with since 2012. Maria is a meticulous editor and is easy to work with, and her poems are moving and inspirational.
CJJ: When did you begin to write poetry?
MVAJ: I first started writing poetry when I was 16. My Nan died and I wanted to write something for the funeral. It drew heavily on inspiration found online, but I discovered I enjoyed it and haven’t looked back since.
CJJ: What is your favorite form, rhyming or free?
MVAJ: When it comes to forms, I’m a very modern girl and prefer free, though I did experiment a lot while at University.
MVAJ: I like to think that I’m not unique and others are in the same place as me. If my poetry can help them in some way, then I believe it is worth the emotional upheaval of sharing this part of myself. On the plus side, having a form of Autism (known as Aspergers) means that I struggle to connect with my emotions. While I can do it, my natural state is slightly distanced which lessens the pain of sharing. It does have a downside though – when I do connect to write, it can be quite overwhelming.
CJJ: We all write what we are in the mood for. Which literary form, novel or poetry is easiest for you today?
MVAJ: I’ve discovered that the best form for my poetry is modern free. This type is more focused on imagery than anything else, and I find that this works best with the hyperfocus that is part of being autistic.
CJJ: What are you currently working on?
MVAJ: At the moment I’m not working on anything. All my projects have been on hold since I bought a puppy in January. She was just reaching the stage where I could get back to work when the Covid-19 Lockdown took effect and I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to do anything, so I’ve been making greeting cards instead. However, I have a couple of projects to return to when I can. One is a poetry collection about disabilities, and one is a short novel about a damaged girl post-coma. I tend to flit between the two as the muse moves me.
Thank you, Maria, for giving us a glimpse of your writing world. I think many authors are finding it difficult to be creative right now.
On Wednesday, for the final post in this interview series, I have the good fortune of featuring Alan Shue. He is a poet and the author of three hilarious children’s books. Alan lives in my area and is active in local writing groups where we have mutual friends—so I prevailed on a member of my writing group to connect us via email.
(That was bold, I know, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!)
I can’t wait to share Alan’s interview with you. I’ve changed up the questions and he’s been a good sport about it.
About Maria V A Johnson:
Maria V A Johnson is a voracious reader, professional editor, and published author and poet with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing. She loves the challenge of taking a raw manuscript and turning it into a polished novel. She specialises in Fantasy, however she can edit any genre. She first started writing seriously, when at sixteen she wrote a poem for her grandmother’s funeral and she grew to love poetry and writing from there.
She has collaborated in several anthologies which raise money for Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford, Essex. She also has a poetry collection called Hearts and Minds released November 2012 and has been published in several anthologies since. Her first novel is currently in editing and she is working on her second as well as another poetry collection.
She has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, though she doesn’t consider it a disability, but rather a different way of looking at the world. If you want to know more about it, visit the National Autistic Society page at: https://www.autism.org.uk/
Maria’s book of poetry, Hearts and Minds, is available at Amazon.
You can find her at: https://maria7627.wordpress.com/