Interview with… Meg Johnson

I’m being quiet on my blog for several reasons this month, one of them being that it’s the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge when loads of bloggers commit to blogging throughout April prompted by the letters of the alphabet. Have you heard of it? Are you taking part? I’ve done it a couple of times, but I’m concentrating on my WIP this year. Well done to everyone who’s participating – you’re almost there!

Today I’m pleased to welcome Meg Johnson to my blog

Meg is the author of the books Inappropriate Sleepover (The National Poetry Review Press, 2014), The Crimes of Clara Turlington (Vine Leaves Press, 2015), and Without: Body, Name, Country (Vine Leaves Press, 2020). Without: Body, Name, Country was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards, The Crimes of Clara Turlington won the Vignette Collection Award, and Inappropriate Sleepover was the runner-up for the Rousseau Prize for Literature. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and received an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her writing has appeared in Bust MagazineHobartMs. MagazineNashville ReviewPainted Bride QuarterlySugar House ReviewVerse Daily, and many other publications.

Hi Meg, tell us a little more about yourself. 

I’ve been in the arts my whole life, starting with the performing arts. I write poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. It feels a bit strange describing yourself during a pandemic. Things feel hazy. 

How has Covid-19 affected the release of Without: Body, Name, Country? 

Something I’ve learned is that there is never a perfect time for a book to come out. My first book, Inappropriate Sleepover, came out when I was in grad school. My thesis was what would eventually become my second book, The Crimes of Clara Turlington, so I was thinking about two manuscripts at once. Even though there was a lot going on, I was able to do all the readings for Inappropriate Sleepover. Not long after my second book came out, I was in the hospital because I had Guillain-Barré syndrome. In my experience, being isolated for over a year is still preferable to being seriously ill. It is definitely easier to promote a book from home than it is from a hospital. Because of my experiences, I probably was freaking out a lot less than some people who have also had books come out during a global pandemic. I’ve enjoyed doing online readings, and I hope when the pandemic is over there will be a mix of live events and virtual events. Obviously, everyone is craving in-person readings again, but continuing with some events online would help make things more accessible to everyone.  

How did your writing career begin? 

I started submitting poems for publication in late May 2009 and started having poems accepted for publication. I started telling people in June 2009 about forthcoming poems/acceptances, but before that, I didn’t tell anyone I was working on submissions. The only people who knew were editors who read my submissions. I was very secretive about it. At the time, I was a dancer and a dance teacher, so when I started publishing, most people were surprised. 

And then you fell in with Vine Leaves Press…?

Vine Leaves Press published my second book and my third book. The Crimes of Clara Turlington won the Vignette Collection Award which is how everything started. VLP seemed more genre fluid than some presses which was very appealing to me. Also, their submission process, scheduling, and book contracts are very straight-forward.  

How do you approach new projects? What is your writing process like? 

Writing, for me, takes a lot of energy. I pace around a lot. I remember feeling relieved when Jennifer L. Knox told me that writing poems is a physical thing for her. I also remember David Giffels talking about what writers have to do physically to get the work done. I think David talked about that in one of his classes around 2013 and Jen talked to me about it around 2014. Before that, I wondered if I was less chill as a writer than some people.  

Is there anything you need to have with you when you write?  

I’m most comfortable when I have a laptop, caffeine (coffee or diet pop), and a room to myself.  

Sometimes it’s as simple as that, isn’t it? Thank you so much for sharing your writing life with us. I definitely think online book events are here to stay!

You can learn more about Meg on her website and via her blog.

And you can find Meg’s latest book Without: Body, Name, Country on the Vine Leaves Press website.


6 thoughts on “Interview with… Meg Johnson

  1. Hi Annalisa – yes the A-Z is fun, or just plain absorbing … I used to enjoy doing it – but now just am around … continuing on with my erratic posting on eclectic subjects. Meg’s book sounds very intriguing – thanks for introducing us to her.
    While the A-Z finishes off … we all carry on as our Spring slowly comes along … beautiful days, not very warm nights. Enjoy the Cornish scenery – cheers Hilary


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