March 20, 2012

Author Interview: Anne E. Johnson

I'm very excited today to welcome Anne E. Johnson.  One of my goals as a blogger is to highlight and share new authors that people may not be aware of.  Anne has two novels coming out this summer. I really think you should get to know her and her books.  

Trouble at the Scriptorium (July 2012)

Anne E. Johnson's medieval mystery novel for tweens, Trouble at the Scriptorium, features a twelve-year-old boy named Harley. It takes place in a fiefdom north of London. 
There are missing jewels, a missing monk, and a secret message hidden in a book of Gregorian chant! Good thing twelve-year-old Lady Margaret reads Latin, but Harley sure finds it hard to know how to behave around a noble girl he wants to be friends with. 
Harley's father is a traveling jester, his mother a lady’s maid, his uncle the monks’ choirmaster.  Through Harley’s eyes, the reader experiences life in a medieval English castle, village, and monastery.  
Ebenezer's Locker (ebook June 1st)
 A hundred years ago, Corbin Elementary School's building housed Dr. Ebenezer Corbin's School for Psychical Research. It seems that a couple of old spirits are still wandering the halls. It's up to Rhonda Zymler to find out what they want. 
Ebenezer's Locker follows the adventures of Rhonda, a sassy sixth-grader who's having trouble finding her place and identity. Getting to know these spirits becomes Rhonda's quest. The more she digs, the more perilous her task becomes, and to complete it she must take two trips back in time. This story blends the realities of an economically-challenged modern American town with supernatural elements. What Rhonda finds not only gives her life a sense of purpose, but changes the fortunes of her entire town. 

Welcome Anne! So glad you are visiting The O.W.L. today.  

Let's start with the easy questions

Point of View: 1st or 3rd:
For Ebenezer’s Locker, 1st. For Trouble at the Scriptorium, 3rd. If I had to explain it, I’d guess the reason for the difference was that Ebenezer’s Locker takes place in the modern day and I was thinking of my own school.

Boy or Girl main character.
Ebenezer’s Locker girl. Scriptorium boy AND girl working together.

Both are mysteries. Ebenezer’s Locker is paranormal (with ghosts), but Scriptorium is a realistic story taking place in the Middle Ages.

More boy or girl book (stereotypically).
Ebenezer’s Locker is more for girls, but Scriptorium is for both boys and girls.

The Serious Questions!
Why MG instead of any other age level?
I really relate to the perspective of kids 9-13. Good sense of fun and wonder, but very smart and developing a sense of how ridiculous the world is.

For you MG novel what part are you most excited about? What part do you think they'll enjoy reading the most or was the most fun to write?
In both novels, I think the mysteries are exciting and bring the characters into danger. But they also have to use their brains to figure out what’s going on. Ebenezer’s Locker has ghosts and time travel. Trouble at the Scriptorium has knights and swordfights, and a scriptorium where monks copy out words and music and bind the pages of vellum together into books. There was no paper in England in the Middle Ages.

When you were in middle school kind of student were you? Did you write then? Did you read?
I was kind of a teacher’s pet, an over-achieving perfectionist. And I wrote all the time. I had a third-grade teacher who made us write short stories, so the habit stuck all through school. I got out of the habit in college, and it was a long time before I started again. Now I’m sorry for all those years when I didn’t write stories. But I was writing other things all that time, like articles and essays and lesson plans.

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? OR WHOOO do you like to read or really enjoyed in HS or middle school?
These days I love the MG novels of Frank Cottrell Boyce and Linda Urban. In middle school my favorite novels were My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. 

The Fun Questions! (based on what 7th graders do!)
Do you chew gum? Yes or No If yes favorite kind?
Yes. I like the exotic flavors of Extra gum, like Orange Crème Pop.

Do you text?
Yes, to my husband several times a day.

Was school lunch just as yucky then as it is now?!
Ooooooh, yes. But every couple of weeks we’d have pizza. It was square, with a spongy crust, and really tasted nothing like pizza, but it was better than the other stuff they served.

Thank you so much Anne for visiting and sharing your books! I'll be watching for them this summer!  If you want to know more about Anne check out her website!


  1. Thanks for hosting me here. This is such a nice blog, and I'm delighted to be included!

  2. Wonderful interview, ladies. Lovely blog, Jill. Good luck getting the kids to read. Anne, I admire your imagination. You really know your stuff. Wish these books were around when my kids were Middle Graders. Heck, I wish they were around when I was a Middle Grader! Best to you both.

  3. Thanks for the great interview! Sounds like a book I'll like lots.

  4. What a delightful blog! I love the colours and owly icons. Both books sound terrific and appeal to me differently: I like the English setting of one, and the paranormal mystery-genre of the other. MG is a fun level for reading because the sense of humour is wry and the characters are bolder than they think. :)

  5. Nice interview. A Wrinkle in Time was (and is) my favorite MG read of all time. And, I think my school served the same *pizza* for lunch. I'll keep an eye out for her books this summer.

  6. Great interview...and love the sound of both books. Thanks.