A.G.S. Johnson always intended to be a writer, but worked as a banker for more than 20 years. Then she returned to school, earned a master's in fiction writing from the University of Southern California and proceeded to pursue her lifelong ambition. Twelve years in the making, her debut novel, The Sausage Maker's Daughters, was published February 7, 2012, by BiblioFile Press (distributed by Ingram). Johnson serves on the Board of the Council of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and is a founding board member of The World Is Just a Book Away. Proceeds from The Sausage Maker's Daughters will benefit this charity, which builds libraries in developing countries. Johnson lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their menagerie of cats and dogs. She is working on her second novel, a medical murder mystery based on a true story.
On your nightstand now:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, Passions of the Mind by Irving Stone and The Biographer's Tale by A.S. Byatt. No wonder I'm sleeping so well! I just added the biography of QEII--the person not the boat--by Sally Bedell Smith, whom I recently met at a book event. It's both enjoyable and educational.
Favorite book when you were a child:
As a young child, the Nancy Drew mysteries. In middle childhood: Hawaii by James Michener, which made a reader out of me. M.M. Kaye's works back then made a traveler out of me. As an older child: Herman Wouk's World War II series, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, which made me feel like I finally grew up.
Your top five authors:
Herman Wouk, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Smiley and Lisa See. This is so hard because I really do jump around a lot. Recently I enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Paris Wife by Paula McClain, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson's trilogy, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and, before all of those, Philippa Gregory's historical works on the royals. The earlier works of Allende, along with those of Irène Némirovsky, Milan Kundera and Gabriel García Márquez have had a lasting impact on me, all of which comes out in the writing. I don't rule much out that is well written and that I can learn from or gain experience from.
Book you've faked reading:
Any title by A.S. Byatt, although I keep trying!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It's somewhat old but completely relevant. What woman and thinking man wouldn't be interested in exploring "wild woman archetypes"?
Book you've bought for the cover:
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and I'm glad I did! It has arguably the very best opening paragraph of any book ever. I dare you to read it and put the book down.
Book that changed your life:
All books, literally, that I've read have changed my life by broadening my horizons and expanding my POV. But Atonement by Ian McEwan opened my eyes to History with a Capital H, both fact and fiction, and how it relates to both memory and guilt.
Favorite line from a book:
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Okay, that's kind of boring so here's another far more recent one: "...the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life." That is from the first paragraph of Shantaram and still makes me suck in my breath in amazement.
Why are books and reading important?
Because every human needs to reach beyond the narrow confines and circumstances they happened to be born into. Every person must come to know and understand the bigger world as it continually shrinks, so we learn to live together more and more closely.