Friday, September 21, 2018

My Interview with Mary Ellen Johnson


What is your name and/or pen name? 

Mary Ellen Johnson also my pen name for all but THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER, which is Mary Ellen Dennis 

What genre do you write? 

Historical fiction, mainly medieval. When I’m finished with my six book series, KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND, I will do a series of time travel, which I consider historical in a different form. I look forward to going back in time but using the contemporary knowledge that my time traveler possesses so I can play with now vs. then. 

What made you want to be a writer? 

Books have always been part of my life. Parents always read to my brothers and me, but what a gift when we discovered the public library! And, at twelve, when I discovered the Middle Ages via Thomas Costain and Anya Seton’s KATHERINE, I knew I wanted to be a part of that world. 

What do you use to keep yourself inspired while writing? 

Research. My books blend historical characters such as Edward III and the Black Prince with my own creations. I haven’t been gifted with the greatest imagination so when I read, I think, I canuse that! I try to be historically accurate with “real” people  but can play with my characters. For example, I had read about women, anchoresses, who voluntarily walled themselves up in a room adjoining a church. There they would stay—some hand digging their own graves—until they died. Then the one window through which they maintained contact with the outer world would be walled up andthere  they would remain until Judgement Day. I had to use that, just as I had to play with how my hero, who runs through five of my six books, would deal with the fourteenth century version of PTSD. For surely, knights/soldiers during this time—beginning of Hundred Years’ War with lots of battle—would be affected. How did they cope?  I love trying to figure out the medieval mind—how they thought, why they believed certain things, how they perceived the world around them. While I have to always keep contemporary readers in mind, I am happiest when I can successfully give us a realistic glimpse into our ancestors. 

How do you feel about the writingcommunity as a whole? 

After a long hiatus when I was involved with criminal justice issues, I’ve only recently returned to writing. Social media is a wonderful tool and the indie sites are really helpful and encouraging. 

Have you or will you be willing to collaborate with other authors in the future? 

I collaborated on THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER with a friend. After putting on my save-the-world hat, I lost all interest in fiction. I had finished a book based on the Victorian poem, The Highwayman, and a very good friend asked if she could play with it and see if she could find a publisher. I said, “Sure.” She added some sex scenes--which rather make me cringe. Not my style at all—and sold it under the pseudonym, Mary Ellen Dennis. It actually did quite well, better than THE LION AND THE LEOPARD, which is an earlier book I had published with a traditional publisher (Crown). 

Tell us about your book and if it’s upcoming or already published. 

I have three books published in my six part KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND series.THE LION AND THE LEOPARD (totally rewritten), A KNIGHT THERE WAS, and WITHIN A FOREST DARK are available via both ebook and paperback. I have finished A CHILD UPON THE THRONE and LORDS AMONG THE RUINS. My series bookends the fourteenth century, a time I find very exciting with the Black Death, the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, brutal battles against the French (beginnings of the Hundred Years’ War) and the death/murder of two kings. 

Is your book or upcoming book an eBook, paperback, or both? 

Both. 

Is this your first book? 

No, nearly completed my six book series, THE KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND. 

Previously published THE LION AND THE LEOPARD and THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER. 

Are you planning to write more? 

Yes. I didn’t write anything other than business/political correspondence for two decades and I’m making up for lost time. I have things I want to say and a limited amount of time in which to say them! 

Is there anything you would say to other writers, that want to write and publish a book? 

Please take the craft of writing seriously. The wonderful thing about indie publishing is that many different voices can be heard. The bad thing is that so much of what is out there is so very amateurish.  An electrician, plumber or carpenter does not become proficient in his craft in a week or two. Neither will a writer. Read. Write. If you can’t take classes study the writers you admire and emulate them. I do a lot of editing for other writers… Not everyone can be a great writer—I certainly am not—but please learn the basics. Some of the writers whose work I have critiqued have told me they don’t read! When you write you are in the company of the greats from Shakespeare to current Pullitzer Prize winners. Respect them! 

Where can my readers find your book and how they can follow you on social media? Leave only links that you want open to the public. 

On facebook you can follow me on Knights of England. https://www.facebook.com/mejauthor/

 I’m also on various writer/historical groups. I am actually very new at this particular part of writing. 


All three KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND books are free with KINDLE UNLIMITED 

THE LION AND THE LEOPARD https://amzn.to/2MTv15X

A KNIGHT THERE WAS https://amzn.to/2PkPjHk

WITHIN A FOREST DARK  https://amzn.to/2MtW0rU



Thank you so much Mary. I don’t write in your genre Historical Fiction and I really enjoyed learning about it. Also I have to admit that I am very interested in your upcoming time traveling books. Everyone that reads my stories knows I love putting in a time element, sometimes it’s time traveling. 
I hope everyone will check out Mary’s books by using the links above. 
As Always, Happy Reading and Writing Everyone 
G. D. Talbot