inkpopper of the Week: Author SM Johnston
Posted by inkpop on April 19, 2010
This philosophy of providing constructive criticism to the inkpop community of writers is the reason why fellow inkpoppers describe Author SM Johnson (aka Sharon Johnston) as a critic who is “most helpful without being hurtful.”
The Australian who lives in a place with “tropical islands, lush rainforests, and platypus” is an inkpop community leader and writer in addition to a young mom with a full-time career.
Here, Johnston talks about her writing ambitions and the dream world she’s created with her book, Mishca.
inkpop: What’s the coolest thing you’ve figured out while being on inkpop?
Author SM Johnston: That I am a teen trapped in a grown-up’s body! I also have discovered how much people love Australia—the most common feedback I get is about the “like a kangaroo in headlights” line in Mishca.
Have you always known you were a writer?
I’ve only recently realized this is what I want to do for a living. When I was young, I loved Matlock, so I wanted to be a lawyer. Then in high school, I caught the drama bug. In school, I devoured books and wrote occasionally. I had a poem published in a newspaper, but it wasn’t something I considered as a career, because I was encouraged to look at “sensible jobs.”
Unlike Mishca, I didn’t follow my own dreams, and went to university to study law and economics. It was so stifling for a creative person, and I only lasted six months. I studied literature and journalism before landing a journalism cadetship 14 years ago. Since then, I moved into corporate communications—while it pays very well and I’m good at, it still doesn’t have the creative outlet I crave. I’ve been writing on-and-off for the past 12 years, and recently a friend urged me to try to get published, so inkpop has helped me figured out what I want to be when I “grow up.”
You’ve written a number of short stories, but you don’t include them on inkpop because you want the focus to be on your book, Mishca. What are these “mystery” short stories like?
They’re a combination of social commentary and the plain weird. My favorite, Broken Butterfly wings, is trapped on an old dead computer that I’ll retrieve one day. It looks at the strained relationship between a mother and her adult daughter through the eyes of the youngest daughter.
A good example of my weird-inspired writing is Lamia and Mano, which is in the collaborative project, V’Day: 8 Tales of Love, Horror, and Friendship.
What’s Mishca about?
Most people love the main male character, Ryder, and want to beat me to a pulp for breaking Mishca and Ryder up partway through the book for Colin. Fantasy and sci-fi beings are hidden characters and include a night elf, mermaid, faerie, gargoyle, and a son of a super soldier (imagine if Captain America had a kid). Mishca is not your normal protagonist—she’s not white, she is very flawed, and, at times, funny. People regularly comment on how “real” she seems and how strong of a character she is.
At the end of Mishca, people will know what she is, but they won’t know why—I think they’ll be shocked when they discover “the mystery of Mishca.”
You posted an essay on inkpop called Etiquette for being a good inkpopper—how did this come about?
It’s about respect and tolerance. I know my perspective is a bit different. No matter how much you think you know someone’s motivation, we actually don’t, because other people don’t think like you. You can only control your own actions, and if you want inkpop to stay an awesome site, focus on your own actions, and respect other people’s rights to make their own choices.
inkpop Forums Topic: Who do you think should be the next inkpopper of the Week?
inkpop.com: Read. Write. Connect.
This inkpop blog post was written by Amy Schroeder (aka inkpopAmy)