Monday, February 14, 2011

Author Spotlight on: Terry Lynn Johnson

We’ve all heard the adage: Write what you know. Sometimes, it’s actually good advice. 

It worked for author Terry Lynn Johnson, debut author of DOGSLED DREAMS. In a crowded literary world filled with vampires, witches and snarky teens, DOGSLED DREAMS stands out from the rest because it’s so…well, different.

The book came out last month through 4RV Publishing, and Terry is here today to talk about her journey so far.

I can’t think of a lot of books on this topic, though I do remember reading Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance a few years back. What made you think about bringing this story to the children’s market?
When I went to races with my dog team, I was constantly asked the same questions by spectators. Questions about my life in general with the dogs. People are curious about the lifestyle and they want to make sure the dogs are being treated well. Especially kids! It was important to me to show how amazing it is to share your life with sled dogs. To try and portrait how strong the relationship is between a musher and her dogs. How it's that special relationship - that bond and trust, that keeps the integrity of the sport. Gary Paulsen is also a musher. His books are a joy to read.

I know you canoe and kayak and do a lot of outdoorsy activities. Do you actually have any experience with dogsledding?
For over ten years I had my own team. I raced, guided overnight expeditions, even went to Alaska for a winter and handled for a team running the Iditarod and worked for a dogsledding company in the Yukon. Every dog in DOGSLED DREAMS is inspired by my own real life dogs. All the names are the same, as well as some of their quirks. 

Wow, that's impressive! So you know this topic very well!
I’m not exactly a city girl, but the whole dogsledding thing seems really foreign. How hard was it to make the story accessible for all readers?

At the heart of dogsledding you find universal themes. Love and trust. That is easy for anyone to relate to. I weaved in some technical information, some mushing terminology too, but hopefully in a way that a reader will understand and learn. I've had readers email me and say they now feel like an apprentice musher after reading the story. That is so wonderful to hear!

Even after finding a small publisher on your own, you were still querying agents. How surreal has it felt to sign with your dream agent and have a book come out so close together?
It has been quite a year. I feel extremely lucky.

And are you out on sub with another book through your agent? Can you tell us the pitch for that book?
My latest project: A 15-year-old musher, a boy with a secret, and a fight for survival.

Secrets and survival -- sounds like another exciting read!

You’ve done some pretty out of the box marketing for this book. Not everyone can talk about their Junior Musher Video Contest! And the little stuffed Huskies were too cute! How did you manage to find such creative tie-ins? 
I can NOT take credit for the Junior Musher Video Contest. That was the brilliance of my publicist Kirsten Cappy of Curious City. She has awesome ideas and it seems an unlimited supply of energy. I couldn't have done it without her.

What has been the most amazing part of your journey so far?
The support from readers. Their enthusiasm and selfless assistance with promotion completely blows me away! Also, connecting with the writing community. I've made so many great friends. 

I know lots of people on the East Coast have been suffering under this Snowmageddon. Any professional tips for staying warm? :-)
Find a buddy. Or a good book!

Thanks, Terry! Stay warm with DOGSLED DREAMS. Hey, that could be your new slogan :P

DOGSLED DREAMS has been selected as a recommended read by the Iditarod Education Department. The book is available through Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Read more about Terry and DOGSLED DREAMS:
First chapter of DOGSLED DREAMS
Terry's website:
Terry's blog:


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yeah for Terry!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Terry is just way cool! My favorite part is how schools can use the book! That I just love!!

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks Sherrie for such a great interview. I'd seen the book around and wondered what it was all about.

Thanks Terry for sharing your story. Your sport takes so much dedication and love, I'm so glad you wrote a book about it. Congratulations and much much continued success.

laura Pauling said...

Write what you know with Terry's book is a great example. Especially with such unique knowledge on the subject. I love the promotions efforts and can't wait to see more from Terry!

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful! I LOVE dog stories that take place in the far north.

Kristan said...

Sherrie, that last comment about boycotting American women is so priceless I almost think you should leave it.

Anyway, great interview. And what a fascinating topic for a book. I think anyone who loves dogs or horses or animals in general could understand the love and trust bond and would be interested in a book like this.

Kelly Polark said...

I love that Terry said that love and trust are the heart of dogsledding. Looking forward to reading this book!
Congrats, Terry!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love, love, love Terry's book and Terry and her marketing and this interview and . . .

Thanks, Sherrie! :-)

Susan R. Mills said...

So exciting for Terry! I can't wait to read the book.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Terry's a class act. And I love those huskies!

Christina Lee said...

I've heard about this book and it stands out for that exact reason-- it's different! IT SOUNDS GREAT --lots of luck!

Kristine Asselin said...

Lots of luck for future success to Terry! Thanks for the interview--I love the marketing "swag" picture. :)

Krispy said...

Terry sounds very cool, and so does her book! :) Thanks for the interview Sherrie!

Stina said...

Those huskies are adorable. I've always wanted a real one. ;)

Great interview, ladies!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I think Terry hit a great point by saying at its heart the story is about love and trust. That's something everyone can relate to and then the reader also gets to go on a wild ride!
Wonderful interview, Sherrie and Terry.

lisa and laura said...

Great interview! We love Terry and can't wait to read her book. I bet kids are LOVING it. When I taught, they found the Iditarod fascinating.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I've had a sneak peek at that new book, and it's going to be awesome too!! Best of luck with everything, Terry!

Lola Sharp said...

Wonderful interview, ladies. :)

I'm so excited for Terry! And, I that is the cutest marketing EVER.

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks for a great interview - and congratulations Terry! I wish I could stay home and read on snowy days :-)

Theresa Milstein said...

I hope she sells many, many books. A few weeks ago, I bought it for my daughter, and I just gave it to her last night for Valentine's Day. When she's done with it, I'm going to read Dogsled Dreams.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

sorry I'm late to the party! THank you everyone for all your great comments! And to Sherrie for having me!

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