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Interview with Johnnie Alexander

How many people do you know who can say they live with a herd of alpacas (see image below)? Or, who own a dog that loves to tree raccoons? Or, who have a connection to a certain hairy-footed individual who lives in a cozy little hole, er, home, tucked into a hill? All of these are true for Johnnie Alexander.

Sassy, one of Johnnie's alpacas

Johnnie is a gal after my own heart in that she writes in a more organic style, preferring to allow the story and the characters to dictate the flow rather than plotting each and every scene and writing them in order. Some might call this style being a “pantser,” but I definitely prefer Johnnie’s “organic” much better. It allows the writer the freedom to write as the story leads and as inspiration strikes. Plotting might appeal to some writers—and it does work well for those so inclined—but I’ve found that being intuitive in writing often means more surprises for the author.

There and back again

Considering the life Johnnie lives—sharing four acres of her farm with alpacas and an assortment of chickens, guineas, barn dogs, and some rabbits—being “organic” suits her. This is also why she finds herself connecting so strongly with the life of a hobbit.

Johnnie loves the coziness of a home under a hill, a round door, lots of windows, green grass, and an abundance of flowers. Her home now might not be under a hill, but the windows, grass, and flowers are a match! And the setting is perfect for allowing the story taking shape in her head and heart to come to life—as long as the view outside doesn’t distract her.

Write often. Learn craft. Listen.

Johnnie’s journey to publishing is similar to that of many writers who don’t see their first works published until later in life. That doesn’t mean her story isn’t unique, though. In fact, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to write, but she found all kinds of other things to do instead of pursuing that dream.

“If God is calling you to write, be brave enough to trust He will guide your path,” Johnnie said. “Write often. Learn the craft. Listen for His voice.”

Sometimes His voice comes from others who cross your path. Johnnie had this happen when Rod Morris, at the time an editor from Harvest House, encouraged her to finish a novel after only reading the first two pages. For the first time in her life, Johnnie completed, revised, and polished a manuscript—and she learned so much from that process.

Even though no one has purchased that manuscript yet, Johnnie’s next novel, Where Treasure Hides, won the ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category and then went on to be published by Tyndale. If not for Rod’s expressed interest in her writing, Johnnie isn’t sure she’d be published today.

Now, after four books written and more in the works, Johnnie has developed her own skills and flair as a writer. Her daughter—a nonfiction author—said the most notable aspect of her mother’s writing is the way she handles description.

It’s not cliché, or what most would expect. The characters become real in Johnnie’s head and as they do, she talks to and about them as if they and their stories are real. Her characters take over the story and they become real to the readers too! That’s an earmark of a true novelist, and it’s not easy.

Creating depth

Another challenge is when you branch out from writing a stand alone novel into writing more than one novel in a series. Johnnie found it difficult to remember to keep track of details such as what trees are where and what football position a minor character played in high school. It can be time-consuming to find that information in one manuscript in order to be consistent in another. However, again as an organic writer, Johnnie loves it when something trivial from the first story gains unplanned for significance in a subsequent story. It’s not intentional, but it is a way she adds depth to a series.

Life outside the story

When Johnnie pulls herself away from the captivating world of her writing, she loves to spend time with her children and grandchildren, who all live in other states. Road trips are always fun!

And, of course, what good writer isn’t also an avid reader? She’s currently reading Middlemarch by George Eliot, which she finds a little intimidating because she’s on chapter four and location 798, but her Kindle is only at 1 percent! She’s also reading Next up: What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis and The Rook by Steven James.

Beyond that, Johnnie has big plans for organizing family photographs and scrapbooks—once she finishes her current manuscript!

Her source of inspiration

To accomplish that, as with each story she writes, she takes a great deal of inspiration from God’s words through His Scriptures. And she takes it one step further by giving her favorite Scriptures to her heroines. Proverbs 31:25 has been a favorite since she was in college, and it’s the verse her heroine in Where Treasure Hides relies on to see her through the horrors of World War II.

Several years ago, God revealed the phrase “into a spacious place” to Johnnie. It’s found in several books, but two Psalm passages are her favorites: Psalm 18:19 and Psalm 31:7–8. Her heroine in Where She Belongs held onto these verses tightly, just as Johnnie does in keeping those Scriptures close to her heart.

As God continues to order Johnnie’s steps and guide her career, next up is a novella in the Courageous Brides collection followed by book 2 in the Misty Willow series. Her most recent release, book 1 in the Misty Willow series, is listed in the sidebar on the left.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who lives with her husband and author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Retriever-mix named Roxie. She has sold 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader’s choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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