Michael Johnson


My name is Michael Johnson. I am a husband, a father, a son, and an author. Writing is something I have always been good at though I have not always wanted to be an author. That changed one day while I was at work back in 2009. I was married to my first wife at the time and working at a small HBCU when a student noticed I was wearing a wedding band. She correctly assumed that I was not married to a black woman and wanted to know why I was not married to a black woman. I could have handled this in a number of ways but I could tell she was not asking me about my life as much as she was asking about black men in general who date outside the race.

There exists a very complicated dynamic within the black community when it comes to interracial dating. Those of us who are or have previously dated outside the race have done so for many reasons, but all reasons are influenced by racism. Black people who say they just fell for someone of a different race without considering any other factor is probably lying. Some of us do it because we feel we were driven to by the mistreatment from our own people. Some view interracial dating as a promotion of sorts; validation of their individual appeal to the outside world. Some believe the interracial relationship will be superior due to the influence of media and how often black people are presented in a negative light.

When I answered the student's question, I told her that I was married to woman who was not black because I wanted to be, but also because I had not been noticed by my own women until I was with someone who did not look like them, and that is where the problem lies. For too many reasons to list here, black men and black women do not value each other and this belief I have, more than any other reason, compelled me to write this book.

I wanted to explore how its possible for black men and women to reach a point when we look at potential romance with each other with pessimism. And then not at all.

What is presented in Shades of Gray: The Introduction of Walter Harrison are the reasons why, mostly from the black male perspective, that black people are increasingly looking for romance for those who look nothing like us.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was something I wrote in my senior year of high school. Unfortunately, I do not remember the title of the story but there is an interesting tidbit behind it. I received an assignment from a science class in which the students in my class were to write a story about yourself and three friends construct an underwater vehicle, travel to three different continents, describe what you see while traveling on the ocean floor and on the surface and return home. I was worried because I was not doing well in the class and I didn't have a strong grasp on science. I thought if the story was interesting enough, the lack of scientific expertise would be overlooked. I followed the few parameters the teacher set but otherwise the story would be something that would resemble a horror film. The vehicle was overtaken by a omnipotent presence who murdered two of my friends. When the vehicle resurfaced on land, the local citizens were in a trance while dressed in white, or dead. One of my friends on the vehicle was the person who controlled the tragic events of the story. When we returned home, my friend revealed to me the people who were still alive had taken pills to have their memories erased and would live forever without pain. Those who refused the pills were killed. My two other friends on the ship refused the pills and were killed. My character was intended to remain alive and absorb the memories (good and bad) of those who had taken the pills. My character did not want to carry that burden alone and ended up stealing pills and joining everyone else living a lobotomized existence.

My teacher read it and mistook it as a cry for help and notified the school counselor who then called my mother. My mom was rattled because she thought I was suicidal. The school did not want another Columbine situation. Once the school counselor interviewed me, the fears were alleviated. I got a 94 on the paper.
What is your writing process?
I am not terribly organized as a writer. I can write for eight to ten hours at a time and then go days without writing at all. I do need to be alone as I have difficulty concentrating on my writing and doing much of anything else. I need silence when I write stories. I project a lot of my personal thoughts and feelings into my characters. I may feel a certain way and that feeling is reflected in my writing. I may read it some time later and decide that is not what I want for the character or the story and delete it. Sometimes I push myself to express something I may not be totally comfortable saying. When I push internal boundaries, I know I have found something great.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Michael Johnson online

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Shades of Gray: The Introduction of Walter Harrison
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 95,110. Language: English. Published: March 11, 2011. Categories: Fiction » African American fiction » Urban life
Walter Harrison is a twenty something owner of an apartment building, Harrison’s Palace, which he inherited from his father, as a patronizing gift to remind Walter of the disappointment he has become. Walter carries the burden of feeling ostracized by his fellow African Americans and internalizes a toxic combination of anger, self-pity, and resentment towards black people.

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