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Interview with Myra Johnson

A native Texan and beloved grandma, Myra Johnson’s love of dogs and horses not only influences her reading material, but fuels her new novels with Love Inspired. This award-winning author persevered for 25 years before her first novel achieved publication. With a childhood dream and Jo March’s courage in her back pocket, Johnson continues to charm readers with her stories, despite her retired husband’s attempts to divert her attention.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Most probably wouldn’t know that I was in my fifties before I had the chance to take riding lessons. I’ll always be grateful to friends who generously shared their horses with this “city girl.” During that time, I competed in my first and only dressage schooling show and did pretty well! Shortly afterward, though, we moved from the area, and other riding opportunities have never presented themselves.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Way to put a writer on the spot! Based on my INFJ Myers-Briggs personality type, which has proven pretty accurate, I’d have to say…intuitive, conscientious, reserved.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid? Did it play any part in your writing style today?
My favorite childhood book was Little Women. Growing up as an “only” child (my two brothers were adults by the time I was born), I always thought it would be nice to have a sister. I also wanted to be beautiful and adored like Amy, but in my heart of hearts, I longed for Jo’s courage and to write stories just like her.

What book is currently on your bedside table?
I’ve recently finished Mistletoe, Malice, and Murder, by my friend Bruce Hammack. His whodunits are always a fun read. Currently I’m reading Robin Lee Hatcher’s Cross My Heart. When I discovered the story included both horses and dogs, how could I resist? My neighborhood book club is reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan, for our February discussion.

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
Writing is as full-time as I can manage, considering my husband is retired and has an agenda of his own, which typically includes interrupting me several times a day about one thing or another! I’m at my computer Monday through Friday, typically beginning around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. with book-related “busy work.” After lunch, I try to settle in with the work-in-progress and write until around 5:00 or 5:30. Weekends are reserved for catching up around the house, Sunday morning worship, and spending time with my husband and friends.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Pretty much. I can remember writing my first story when I was about six years old. As a teenager, I began a couple of schmaltzy novels and filled notebooks with angsty poetry. I’ll admit there was a time when I dreamed of becoming the next Peggy Fleming at the Olympics, but there were no ice rinks in South Texas where I grew up, so those aspirations never had a chance.

Tell us about your first published book? What was the journey like?
From the time I began seriously pursuing a writing career until I got “the call,” it was 25 years. In the meantime, I’d earned dozens of magazine writing credits, amassed hundreds of book manuscript rejections, and won a few awards in prestigious unpublished manuscript contests. So, when Barbara Scott, then the editor of the new fiction line at Abingdon Press, put out the call for writers who had “paid their dues,” I figured I more than qualified. She offered a contract for my novel One Imperfect Christmas, which was released in October 2009.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
There have been many over the years— Deborah Raney, Robin Lee Hatcher, Lisa Sampson, Tina Radcliffe, Grace Greene, to name a few. I try to learn from every book I read, no matter the author or genre.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
I can’t really say which one comes first because they are so intertwined. When an idea begins to take shape, I mentally play with characters, goals, and conflicts until the “right” combination gels. Once that happens, the story starts falling into place.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
The blurb doesn’t mention that the story is set in the Missoula, Montana area. This is my first venture outside Texas for one of my Love Inspired romances, and I received a lot of research help from my daughter and her husband, who have lived near Missoula for about eight or nine years. It’s a beautiful area—mountains, rivers, wildlife—perfect for creating a fictional small town near a familiar larger city.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
This book is special to me on many levels. I have a soft spot for Witt because of the struggles he’s had to overcome, and I identify deeply with Maddie and her devotion to the dogs. But ultimately, I’d have to say Ranger, Witt’s dog, is the most special to me. The reunion scene between those two still gives me goosebumps.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
It took a great deal of brainstorming to develop Witt’s backstory and how he ended up where he is when the story begins. There’s a bit of a mystery involving his past and how it connects with Maddie’s that is gradually revealed as the story unfolds, and I had to make sure each aspect made logical sense.

What was the highlight of writing this book?
Definitely writing the scene where Witt and his dog reunite—and then mirroring that scene in a climactic moment near the end.

Any current or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m at work now on my next Love Inspired romance set in Montana. This one will feature Julia Frasier, Maddie’s veterinarian friend from A Steadfast Companion.
Gina Holder is an indie author and stay-at-home mom. She’s had an infatuation with books for as long as she can remember. She loves sharing uplifting messages from God’s Word and introducing readers to new and new-to-them authors on her blog at When she’s not writing, Gina enjoys playing the piano, cooking, reading, watching Hallmark mysteries, and solving “escape room” puzzles. She’s been a member of ACFW for several years, and loves growing in her craft as an author. She published her debut novel in 2017. Gina lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter.

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