Paperback Writer Chats with Lloyd Johnson about Living Stones

Lloyd Johnson wants people to understand better the need for justice and peace in the Holy Land, and question how we in America may actually be on the wrong side of history.  (We are actively supporting oppression by our huge military aid to one side only, enabling 46 years of occupation by the 4th strongest force in the world.  The other side has no army at all, and negotiates currently from a position of weakness.) 

About Living Stones

Living Stones
Living Stones

She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nearly killed in Seattle during a jihadist bombing, Ashley recognizes the synagogue bomber and is later stalked by a hired Muslim hit man in Israel. There she reacquaints with Najid, the Christian Palestinian scholar she had met at the University of Washington. She falls in love with him, putting her at odds with her Zionist pro-Israeli convictions.

On the run, Ashley sees the beautiful rock churches and shrines.  But the living stones, the people of the Holy Land intrigue her. She meets Jews and Palestinians, Rabbis for and against Israeli settlement expansion. Gentle Palestinians like Najid’s family, and those in the West Bank suffering under military occupation. Both Muslims and Christians living peacefully together.

Najid and Ashley find the bomber in Seattle despite the FBI dragnet put out to arrest him.. Living Stones is the story of an American woman coming to terms with the truth of the Middle East, and the lies she had been fed. Will she survive the forces that threaten to tear her apart?

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Interview with Lloyd Johnson

 

Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book? 

Marianne and I were shocked by meeting the people in Bethlehem in 2008, and again when living there in 2012.  Their stories of living under constant threat of arrest, home demolitions, and water deprivation grabbed us.  And the huge concrete wall with guard towers that imprison them.

They asked us to tell their stories at home since most Americans know little of real life in Palestine.  And since many excellent books about the conflict are almost all non-fiction, it seemed best to write a good action/adventure story that would somehow illustrate the difficulties of living under a 46 year-long military occupation.  And would attract the general fiction reader, a much broader audience than just those interested in the Middle East issues. 

 Living-Stones-banner

Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

I must have an outline, to know where I’m going.  Otherwise I’d get on some rabbit trail and not know how to recover.

Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

Yes

Do you have a process for developing your characters?

I just try to visualize them and get into their heads.  Pretty soon they take on an identity of their own, and almost dictate to me what they say and do.  I get attached to them, almost as real people, and am even emotional at times.

It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

Well, mostly not.  But some of the ideas that seem perhaps far out to some readers, do come from my own experience or ideals.  E.g. forgiveness.  One critic on Amazon thinks forgiving one who has critically injured you is totally unrealistic- and rated the book low.

What is your most favorite part about this book?

That the characters in the Holy Land are each so different.  They come up with entirely different perspectives.  That’s one of the ideas of the book, to not just entertain, but to cause readers to think and develop their own ideas about how to achieve peace and reconciliation. 

What struggles have you had on the road to being published?

Being told that if I could write Amish romance, my agent could get me a contract.  But seriously, the long wait to hear from publishers, and then their damning with faint praise—you have a wonderful story but it just doesn’t fit with what we are looking for.  I’ve been advised over several years that patience and persistence pay off.  Seems to be true.

 

 What has been the best part about being published?

 The long wait is over, bBut marketing has begun and that’s not necessarily my cup of tea. Now finally the message, smoldering inside, is getting out to friends near and far, and a fiction reading public.

What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

To understand better the need for justice and peace in the Holy Land, and question how we in America may actually be on the wrong side of history.  (We are actively supporting oppression by our huge military aid to one side only, enabling 46 years of occupation by the 4th strongest force in the world.  The other side has no army at all, and negotiates currently from a position of weakness.) 

  Do you have plans to write another book?

Yes.  A sequel is completed, but still in the editing process and will be for awhile.  Cry of Hope.

About Lloyd Johnson

Johnson photo for Koehler, img_0002_#1_0With special interest in the current Middle East, retired surgeon Dr. Lloyd Johnson turned to fiction writing, putting out two books, his current book Living Stones and there is a sequel in the works. He is a member of Seattle writing group, and blogs regularly on Israel/Palestine subjects. Johnson is a Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington in the Department of Surgery. He is Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, and past president of the Seattle Surgical Society. He authored 26 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals/texts. He has worked and traveled extensively overseas, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and served for six years as volunteer executive director and board member of a humanitarian NGO in Central Asia. The author lives in Edmonds, Washington.

Read Lloyd’s blog

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