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Liz McKinney-Johnson spent the majority of her professional life as an award-winning marketing copywriter and creative director, running her own agency for most her career. There she honed the ability to wade through piles of client-provided data, unearth the one or two pieces of information a normal person might actually find interesting, then craft that discovery into an attention-grabbing message. It’s a skill that translates well to plot and character development. As does the field itself, since most advertising is about 98% fiction.
In her debut novel, The Eulogist, Dead But Not Forgotten, McKinney-Johnson slips into the skin of a character 180˚ from her own reality, turning her back on the classic advice to, "write what you know." She believes the goal of a writer should be to expand what you know, to delve into new, intriguing topics that can be woven into stories to captivate an audience. "I get to meet all kinds of interesting people," says McKinney-Johnson. "I've interviewed psychologists, neurosurgeons, pharmacologists, priests, even FBI agents. Everyone has a story to tell, and I love to listen. Eavesdropping on the people in front of me in line at Starbucks® or the grocery store is kind of a nasty habit, but great for dialogue."
McKinney-Johnson was raised in and still writes from the Pacific Northwest, staring out between sentences on a view of the forested foothills of the Coast Range. Her three children are grown but still spend plenty of time around the house and its surrounding twenty acres, or as it is better known: Rancho Relaxo.
When not writing, McKinney Johnson is a sewing and craft enthusiast who knows her way around a buttonhole and blind hem. She is one of the masterminds behind the wildly successful sewing website, Sew4Home.com, which brings home décor creativity to over a million visitors each month. And, she can bust out a triple time step, thanks to a love of tap-dancing that goes all the way back to high school
Neil M Campbell
on Aug. 18, 2014 :
The Eulogist is pure delight from start to exquisite finish. Sham mourner, insurance fraud investigator, chapel Casanova, opportunist par excellence, deeply rooted in rootlessness, philosopher Charlie Sandors bends life to his existentialist whim in this insightful, deeply thought out, meditation on the nature of identity.
Packed with fresh takes on the human condition, this life affirming book draws the reader into the deeply serious tongue-in-cheek mind of a resourceful orphan in a very entertaining, laugh out loud, exercise in fun, while at the same time gently nudging us to take a look at our own life and attitudes.
Liz McKinney-Johnson wields her psychology lightly as she meshes the various strands of her protagonist's personality and background into a perfectly rounded, balanced character, who leaps off the page into our affections - Charlie has found the key to living his psyche to the full, and takes us along on the joyous ride.
The other characters are equally consummately realised. Lily in particular will remain with me for a long time - a deeply moving study of a woman bereft, courageous, torn between public confidence and private diffidence - dutiful, tender and loving in the service of others.
Altogether a wonderful achievement - I came away smiling and am smiling still . . .
(reviewed the day of purchase)