GRAPE BUNCH (acrylic on canvas) by Lorenda Harder
My Interview with Author JOHNNIE ALEXANDER
DEB: Thanks for joining me today, Johnnie. You’ve published quite a few books, but your debut novel blew me away. Though I don’t usually read WWII stories, I loved your integration of fine art and the condition of the human heart. Please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of the plot.
JOHNNIE: Thanks for the invitation, Deb. In Where Treasure Hides, my Dutch-American heroine, Alison Schuyler, protects art and children from the Nazis while the man she loves fights his own battles against Hitler’s evil regime.
DEB: Your antagonist is chilling—and yet so accessible.
JOHNNIE: Yes, Count Theodor Scheidemann—a Nazi officer and art collector who is obsessed with Alison—is a multi-faceted character. He’s power hungry so he wants to be part of the Nazi elite, but he despises the brutality he witnesses. For example, he is sickened when interrogators break the fingers of a notable artist. This man will never paint again, and any future creations are lost to the world. That kind of loss angers me, too.
DEB: How do you see your message in this book—and in your fiction generally—encouraging your readers?
JOHNNIE: I think wise people have a long-term, even an eternal, perspective on the consequences of their words and actions. It can feel so empowering to exhibit anger or to make a snappy retort—but that’s a false power. The wiser option (and I’m not perfect with this though I try) is to take a longer view.
DEB: Johnnie, how does your Christian faith fuel your passion to write and the content of your writing?
JOHNNIE: Recurring themes in my stories revolve around a family’s spiritual legacy and heritage. I deeply believe in two seemingly contradictory ideas—that the decisions I make today affect my children and grandchildren and that, because of God’s steadfast love and merciful grace, the past does not define my future (a message of grace and hope for the hurting).
DEB: Lovely. I’m curious—is there anything in life you’d like to do that you haven’t done before?
JOHNNIE: I wanted to raise alpacas. Check. I wanted to take horseback riding lessons. Check. I wanted to learn to weave—took one class. Check. I wanted to be a Lothlorien elf . . . but I’m too short.
DEB: Haha! So you like Tolkien?
JOHNNIE: Oh yes. Even though his creation of Middle Earth is imaginary, I believe it exists and it’s where I should be living.
DEB: So if I asked you which novel in all the world’s vast library you wish you had written, would you say Lord of the Rings?
JOHNNIE: Actually, my favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables. I love the redemptive depth of that story. Jean Valjean confronts difficult, life-changing decisions several times during his life yet, after his initial conversion, he never wavers from his true purpose—to live for God’s glory. Through the years, he has different identities—he’s a prisoner with only a number, a respected mayor, an almost anonymous gardener, and a wealthy benefactor. But the identity that matters most is that he is a child of God.
DEB: I see you have eclectic literary tastes in reading. What is one difference that your own writing has made in the life of a reader?
JOHNNIE: This isn’t a dramatic difference, but one reviewer said she shouldn’t have taken Where Treasure Hides on her family’s camping trip. She couldn’t put it down and “ugly-cried.” (I love that story!)
DEB: Well, I empathize with her—it’s an excellent novel and makes me look forward to reading more of your work. Thanks for joining me today, Johnnie.
Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the Serious Writer, Inc. Board of Directors, co-hosts Writers Chat, and interviews other inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at www.johnnie-alexander.com, Facebook, and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.