Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend. Visit Abigail online at abigailjohnsonbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @abigailswriting and Instagram @abigailjohnsonya.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, Girl on the Run? What made you want to tell this story?
Abigail Johnson: I was reading a YA Thriller at the time, and I kept getting frustrated with the plot because it wasn’t going anywhere near where I would have taken the story. The book I was reading wasn’t remotely close to the idea for Girl on the Run, but it made me start thinking about thrillers in general, and bam! The idea just hit me, and I literally couldn’t type it fast enough. I’ve never drafted a book so fast in my life.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
AJ: It’s that you don’t have to change your life to find happiness in it. So often stories involve seemingly magic solutions to change or undo a character’s problems. In my experience, real-life doesn’t usually work that way. I much prefer stories where characters persevere or adapt to triumph, despite their maybe less-than-ideal circumstances.
V: What was the hardest scene of Girl on the Run to write?
AJ: This is a tricky question to answer because pretty much everything after the first chapter is a spoiler. The final scene was challenging because everything leading up to it had to pay off and yet still surprise the reader. I went through quite a few versions and let myself go too far just to see what would happen—kind of to get the extreme out of my system—before writing a scene that gave me literal goosebumps! I hope readers love it as much as I do.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
AJ: Write a synopsis before you start drafting! Work out all your story/character issues in those few pages so that you don’t spend months (or years) re-writing draft after draft after draft… I would also say to trust your instincts and remember the only person you’re writing for is yourself.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
AJ: Quiet or rain sounds to drown out any noise (rainymood.com is a favorite). My MacBook, then I use Scrivener as my writing software and can’t imagine writing a book without it. I’m not big on snacks when I write, but ice-cold water is a must. And my cat in my lap!