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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Author on the 'Hump' Wednesday : Mahlena-Rae Johnson

Hump Day is that special day in the middle of the week, where we try to figure out whether the week is just beginning or about to end.  So, I've decided to use Wednesdays to catch up with some other writers.  

So I  spoke with Author Mahlena-Rae Johnson on the release of her second book, 
Bianca Regan Where the Action Is.

1) What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on THE BOOK OF NOA, a trilogy of intergalactic sci-fi novels. I am planning to put out the first one, ORIGINS, in 2014. I am also developing a few pilot scripts and a web series.

2) What did you want to be when you grew up?  Always a writer?
I wanted to be a lot of things when I grew up. In kindergarten, I wanted to be an astronaut. In elementary school, I did want to be a writer, then I shifted to fashion designer. In middle school, after watching D2: The Mighty Ducks, I decided I was going to be an actor, a filmmaker, and a top athlete in Jerry Bruckheimer's hockey league, despite growing up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, which has neither ice nor a rink.

3) Do you research your novels?
I do! I didn't have to do much research for the BIANCA REAGAN series, since I have worked in entertainment for over a decade now. But for THE BOOK OF NOA, since much of the story takes place in Eastern California and Hawaii, I have been investigating the terrains and cultures and travel accessibility of those locations. Also, the main characters in THE BOOK OF NOA represent a variety of ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, and abilities, so I want to make sure that they are portrayed accurately.

4) Tell us about your titles, please.  Where do you get the ideas for them?
My first two books--STEVE THE PENGUIN and WHERE THE ACTION IS are a part of the BIANCA REAGAN series. STEVE THE PENGUIN is about a Hollywood assistant named Bianca who goes home to St. Thomas for her ten-year high school reunion. WHERE THE ACTION IS follows Bianca back in Los Angeles, as she gets caught between the worlds of politics and entertainment.

5) What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
A typical working day for me begins in the morning with breakfast at home while I listen to a podcast, and ends at night with my returning home from a networking event. In the middle, I definitely have lunch, and possibly take a nap. I usually don't have a daily writing goal, unless I have a deadline for something, like a speech I'm planning to deliver later in the week. I also try to exercise at least every other day. I especially enjoy yoga and Insanity.

I write wherever and whenever I can. Whether I'm at the doctor's office or sitting at a restaurant waiting for a lunch friend to arrive, I bring my notebook with me to detail a scene from my sci-fi series, or work on characterization for my web series. There are times when I do block off periods for specific writing tasks, but at the moment, since I am focusing on promoting my second novel, much of my day involves more marketing than generating literary ideas.

6) Do you ever see yourself as one particular character in your novels?  If so, which one?
Well, the main character of the BIANCA REAGAN series is based on me, but the rest of the characters are fictional. In THE BOOK OF NOA series, many of my best and worst traits are spread throughout the ten main characters, like tenacity, curiosity, introversion, guilt, and ambition. 

7) Do you have a favorite book character (not in your novels)?  Please, please, do tell who!!!
One of my favorite characters is Hermione in the Harry Potter series. I identify with her need to know everything and be right all the time, and her passion for education. I also relate to the way her strength and her genius is constantly overlooked because the people in charge are more concerned about the luck-driven accomplishments of her male colleagues. Aside from Professor Dumbledore, Hermione was the most brilliant person at Hogwarts, yet the entire series focused on how a boy who was good at flying was going to defeat a criminal mastermind who could bring himself back from the dead? That said, loved the books and the movies! I've read and seen them all.

8) What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I would have lunch with Whoopi Goldberg's character in The Associate, and she would invite along Dianne Wiest's character. We'd eat at a sushi/dim sum fusion restaurant, and on the walk back to their office, Whoopi and Dianne would hire me to set up their digital media division.

9) Alrighty now, just to wrap it up.  One last thing, what your favorite bedtime drink? Cocoa, soda, wine?  Inquiring minds  want to know, please.  (Don't worry, you can answer 'water,' if you don't want to say (lol).
I'd love a Jamba Juice before bed, but mostly I drink water.

Thanks, Mahlena-Rae, for stopping by the blog!!