Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today's Special - - Kathryn Johnson

We are happy to have Kathryn Johnson as our special guest today. Kathryn is the author of more than 40 novels for young and adult readers, written under several noms de plume. She is also the founder of Write By You, a professional mentoring service for fiction writers. Kathryn has taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Howard University, and the Long Ridge Writers Group. Her latest novel, The Gentleman Poet, has been receiving rave reviews, including this one from our very own Janga! Please give a warm Romance Dish welcome to Kathryn.

The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Romance, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,”
by Kathryn Johnson

Like many authors, I’m often asked where the ideas for my books come from. The answer? Everywhere!
It doesn’t matter how exciting or quiet your life is—there is raw material for a rich and satisfying story within you. For instance, everyone has hobbies. Some of us quilt, others collect cookbooks or enjoy playing a musical instrument. One activity I enjoy is sailing with my husband. Our relaxing days on the Chesapeake Bay went a long way toward inspiring The Gentleman Poet, my latest novel. Right now, the crisp late fall weather is a reminder that we’re nearing the end of our sailing season. It’s truly romantic skimming across the Chesapeake Bay in our vintage sailboat Purr during the spring, all summer, and early fall before it gets too cold to be enjoyable. But as cooler days arrive, and the water turns steel-gray, choppy and chill, our fascination with being out on the water wanes, and I often wonder what it must have been like for women and their families sailing on creaky wooden sailing ships across vast and terrifyingly rough oceans capable of swallowing them whole in one huge wave.
I suppose it was partly my sympathy for these brave souls of just a few hundred years ago that prompted me to write a novel involving a shipwreck in the 17th-century, and for creating my heroine survivor Elizabeth Persons. Because this isn’t really a story about William Shakespeare, although you may catch glimpses of someone very like him in the story. It’s not even so much about a single play that he wrote, as much as it is about the courage of a young woman who—like so many women today—yearns for love and a better life for herself. Despite the hardships Elizabeth faces, she tests herself, discovers her talents and learns about the world around her—all of which give her the strength to rise above tragedy and reach out for happiness.
Maybe this story provides a message for all of us today during these challenging and stressful times. History shows us, again and again, the awesome emotional and physical strength of women at moments of crisis. Their journals, memoirs, and letters remind us that we as a sex have incredible resilience, and the power within us to be just as strong as our sisters who came before us, when we are tested. I saw the need to write about this strength in my romantic historical novel. I needed also to write about how Elizabeth finds love, despite life throwing incredible barricades in her path.
This is a book dedicated to women everywhere, throughout time, who have grown stronger through adversity and found ways to bring joy and love into their own and others’ lives. I hope you’ll enjoy Elizabeth’s journey even as you create your own life adventure in the 21st century.

Warmly, Kathryn Johnson

You can reach Kathryn at her website where she offers tips for new writers and support from her mentoring service:


  1. Hi Kathryn! We're so happy to have you visit with us today! I bought The Gentleman Poet after reading Janga's 5-star review and am looking forward to reading it after the craziness of the holiday season wanes.

    I love how you describe sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Reading your words, I could close my eyes and almost feel the smell of the water and the wind in my hair. What a great name for your boat too. I'd love to hear the story behind that!

  2. Hello and welcome to The Romance Dish, Kathryn! What a lovely blog! You certainly have a way with words. That, plus Janga's review, makes me really want to read this book. I hope to find some time to do so soon! :)

  3. Hi Kathryn!
    The Gentleman Poet sounds like such a wonderful book! Like PJ, I'll have to read it after the chaos of the holiday season. :)

  4. Hi, Kathryn! I'm looking forward to reading The Gentleman Poet this winter when the snow keeps us inside. :-)

    I went sailing on the Chesapeake Bay years ago---my husband graduated from the Naval Academy and was on the sailing team---and it was a beautiful experience. Crystal clear summer day, warm breeze, and sparkling sunlight on the water. Bliss.

  5. Hi, Kathryn! I loved The Gentleman Poet from the title to the final scene. Reviewing it was a joy.

  6. Hey Kathryn! It is so nice having you with us today. The Gentleman Poet sounds like a lovely book. I have never been sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, but it sounds like a wonderful experience.

  7. Thanks, all for your comments. Actually, we named the boat Purr because we had thought we'd be taking our cats sailing with us. A lot of people sail with their pets--dogs, cats, parrots!-- so we thought, no sweat! Unfortunately, our cats didn't agree with the plans. Perhaps it was because they are really Shakespeare cats and afraid of ship wrecks. Their names are Miranda and Tempest. LOL! Best wishes, Kathryn

  8. I have heard nothing but good things about this book It is high on my Wish List. For those considered the 'weaker sex' time has given many example of the strength, determination, and capabilities of women who survive, often in situations where men do not.

  9. Based on the blurb and review, this is going on my TBB list. Historical with romance and a stong woman sounds like a good book.