Interview with Tiffini Johnson

What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Bible: it's comforting, full of wisdom, inspiring and helps me feel closer to God.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Studying the Holocaust has been a passion of mine since I was a pre-teen. This is the first book I've read on the subject that did a superb job of combining history with fiction. I wished it was longer than 500 pages.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: The imagery in this book and the Andy Griffith, good-guy character of Atticus made me love this book.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry -- This is so choke-full of brilliance that every time I re-read it, I find something new to think about. And it is beautifully written.

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught: If this woman wrote a version of the phone book, I would buy and read it. In particular this book is just so beautiful that I practically have the entire novel memorized.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for quite literally as long as I can remember. In fact, I don't even remember writing "Sweet Shelby," my first story. By the time I graduated high school, I'd written over 100 books, many of which were over 2,000 handwritten pages long! Writing is like oxygen to me; it runs in my blood and I would not be truly happy without a blue Bic pen and a blank notebook of paper in which to write!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My daughters. They are my heroes. By watching them grow, I am reminded of how brilliant the colors in the world are and they give me a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other. They can make me laugh, they can make me cry but, above all, they genuinely make me "heart-happy."
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I homeschool my daughters--that takes up a significant portion of each day. In addition, I volunteer as a teacher at my church and spend Sunday mornings teaching little ones. When I am not teaching, I love anything that has anything to do with the water---swimming, white water rafting, etc. I also love horseback riding, especially galloping; I love cooking (especially homemade bread and homemade cheese) and music makes me very happy.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up all over the United States! We traveled extensively growing up (by the time I graduated high school, I'd attended about 20 different schools!). We were always riding along the interstate to some unknown destination and starting school mid-year.

Although I ached desperately for stability and vowed never to move ever again once I reached adulthood, constantly changing environments and meeting new people did have a few highlights. For one, it helped me learn to be adaptable. Adaptability is very important to publishing because everything is constantly changing, particularly when you are an indie author and you are responsible for staying up to date with the changes in the industry. In addition to adaptability, I was introduced to a vast variety of people and cultures and that has enabled me to really put a lot of detail into my characters' homeland. While I tend to put them in places I know the best, I have a frame of reference for just about anywhere they want to live!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The characters.

The characters are my friends. I talk to them, sometimes out loud. And I think about them even when I am not writing. In every true meaning of the word, they are my friends. Some authors are story-driven--they are able to make their characters fit the story they want to write. I am character driven: the characters have to "show" me a "scene" before I am able to write it. If I try to write a chapter or scene that is not in my head, it inevitably sounds... contrived.

Although I love all of my characters, Ash is my favorite. He represents so many vitally important things: creativity, compassion, friendship, gentleness, imagination. He inspires me like no other character has and he makes me want to write.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are my friends. But they are more than that. In many important ways, my readers are often the ones who coax me into a place of deeper healing. Often, when they e-mail or write me a letter, they will tell me their personal stories of survival. Once, at a signing, this woman asked me how old I was. I told her. She replied, "So, at the same time it was happening to you---it was happening to me, too." In that moment, there was a connection formed that simply is amazing. They motivate me and encourage me and give me a boldness to tell whatever story is in my heart, to share whatever memories I need to, that I otherwise would not have. The hardest part of abuse is feeling alienated, dirty, different from everyone else on the planet. Having someone look at you and tell you that, actually, you were NOT alone is very empowering and a significant piece of healing.

I love my readers.
What are you working on next?
It is a very difficult book to write about the Holocaust, family and imagination. While I am excited about it upcoming release, I am also very nervous. The Holocaust is a period of time that means a lot to me. As a young adolescent and teenager, the knowledge that there were survivors of this horrific period of time reminded me that, if they survived Auschwitz, I could survive anything. The stories of bravery, courage and, yes, terror comforted and inspired me. As a result, it is critical that I get this story right.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the very first book I read. I remember hearing the story of Rapunzel over and over as a very young child and being able to visualize it very clearly. However, I do remember spending the better portion of my young childhood devouring every book in The Baby-Sitters Club series; I laughed hysterically when Stacey had her crush on her teacher and cried when Claudia's grandmother died. They were my friends and I desperately loved that series.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I really prefer printed books; however, my Kindle is also a close friend. :)
Published 2015-11-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Forget Me Not
Price: $5.00 USD. Words: 39,180. Language: English. Published: December 4, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age
My name is Jessie. I am eight years old. I am never touched. No pats on the head. No hand to hold when I cross the street. No hug when I am sick. One day, I broke the nose of a boy who tried to touch me. Another, my eyes leaked water when I watched a mother hold her little girl. I was here too, but nobody saw. This is my story. Are you ready?
The Character
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 62,220. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age
Intense. Painful. Inspiring. This is 10-year-old Anna's story of abuse and her redeeming friendship with a mysterious storyteller named Ash.