Danny Johnson's new novel is The Last Road Home.
From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with your characters Junebug, Fancy, and Lightning, and why did you choose to set the book in the 1950s and '60s?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I grew up during that era, and the setting of the book came from my own childhood of spending every summer on the farm with my grandparents, who were tobacco farmers.
I lived in a city housing project until I was around 15, where it could get a little dicey much of the time, and tell folks the two things I learned best was the value of friends and how to be the fastest white boy in the project.
But, as soon as summer came, I looked forward to spending it on the farm, enjoying the peace of the slow life, watching how the natural world interacted, and I loved being alone.
My grandmother taught me to read at an early age, and she was an avid reader, letting me read the books she would get from the book-mobile when it came around every couple of weeks. My great grandmother also lived with them and taught me to count by sitting me on her lap as a small child and counting my knuckles.
I made friends with a couple of black kids around the community because there were no white kids, and we spent hours playing, me learning from them and them from me. I loved it.
As for Junebug, Fancy, and Lightning, one of the things I used to do when I had no ideas, was sit in front of my computer and simply begin typing the first words that came to mind, eventually making them into flash fiction stories or short stories and not caring if they sucked or not…somewhere in the mix of that, Fancy and Lightning came to me, like...[read on]