Bienvenue Press would like to welcome Lee St. John to our company/family! She’s a writer from Georgia who writes funny Southern stories. We look forward to working with her and sharing her books with you. Today, she stops by the front porch to share a little about herself.
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
I’ll be saying plenty below. But I will tell you two things that surprise people:
a) I made TERRIBLE grades in high school.
b) I am an Oxfordian. You are going to have to look it up.
What made you want to become a writer?
I consider myself a journalist first. My hometown newspaper selected a high school senior representative to cover school news with a weekly column regarding school events. I was chosen. In college I majored in communications which included all kinds of writing – radio ads, news releases for the PR department, human interest stories, etc. When I came home for the summers, I continued writing for my paper. Even after I married and had children, I was again asked to write a social column. This gave me a lot of practice. And that’s my brand – short, concise, but packed with a lot of punch. While working for the newspaper, my publisher told me I should write a book someday. I had another idea totally in mind but ended up in the humor department when I realized it was more my forte.
What is your advice a) to Indie Authors? b) On writing? c) Marketing?
a) Tenacity. b) Write. c) Step our of your comfort zone if you are not one who likes to aggrandize and self-promote. It’s just something you must do and have to do.
Music or silence? If music, what do you normally listen to?
Silence except for my tinnitus.
What is/are your book(s) about?
Non-conforming behaviors of a well-brought up Southern Belle. Think Margaret Mitchell. If you don’t know her background, think Scarlett. One in the same.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Laughter. When I hear them laughing during my speaking engagements or they tell me they relate to an essay I have written and laughed, I’m good to go.
What book that you have read has most influenced your life? Why?
As a retired high school English teacher one might think I’d put forth a more serious book for consideration. But in 1978 I was twenty-five and a coming of age story affected me by one quote in the book. It was THE LAST CONVERTIBLE by Anton Myrer and the quote was, “Life is fair. It hurts everyone.” With this awakening and my middle and high school students whining about “That isn’t fair!” or such statements, I busted out that quote. Of course there were other books I loved, but at that moment in time, I identified with that character’s statement.
Who is your favorite author? If you could ask this author one question, what would you ask?
I want to say Harper Lee and telling her Southern story of injustice but I have to admire the female courage of Margaret Mitchell who put herself out there and personally stayed true to herself. I feel like I know what her answer would be to this question, “Was your maverick behavior worth it?”
What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
Ill-timed behaviors, practical jokes, inept verbiage, wild excursions, and wacky real-life personalities.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
My characters ARE real people.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
On Facebook recently someone wrote that she was getting tired with the downer “must read” book club books and wishes she could find a good book that would make her laugh. She said she had not laughed out loud since The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. With all the harsh worldly news today, a book to make your sides hurt from laughing would be a good thing. I think these short essay humor books sharing a slice of life from unconventional but real behaviors are just the ticket to get out of the doldrums. But make sure you are wearing your “I-am-not-overly-sensitive-to-political-incorrectness” glasses because we’re having none of that in these true stories of yester-year. It happened the way the story is told and that’s that.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I like thinking about how the storylines unravel in my brain while I am writing. I like creating suspense by starting a simple story and then taking the reader down a rabbit hole with a parallel story, usually, which makes the reader think they are getting another kind of adventure but then bringing them back up for air and for the punch-line or resolution. It’s all about keeping them engaged with your narrative. Think Twain. And when I do, I think of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. What a yarn that was. Bottom line: man plays trick with frog to win a bet.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
I have a publishing contract!
Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
I know my place. I have likened myself to the descriptions of certain national magazines and by those characteristics can tell you who I am NOT: I am NOT Traditional Home’s sleek designs. I am NOT Architectural Digest’s ultra-formal décor. I am NOT HGTV magazine’s informal mostly-craft decorating. I am NOT Garden and Gun’s rustic-outdoorsy living and appearance. I am NOT Martha Stewart’s perfectly placed designs, and I am NOT as simple as Real Simple magazine. But I, as a person, embody SOUTHERN LIVING magazine, which includes a smidgen of all of the above without being just one identifiable characteristic. I am a small-town girl who was cocooned in a Mayberry existence, later living and learning faster and sleeker ways through young adulthood in Georgia’s capital. So my writing reflects that – a barefooted, pearl-wearing girl, who uses her formal silver possibly with store-bought potato salad (who wants to peel all those potatoes?), and who’s strong personality always exudes, “Don’t tell me ‘NO!’” And since I know who I am, it is my goal to actually be featured IN Southern Living Magazine as I feel such a connection with the quality of the South it represents – down-home panache.
Where can we find you online?
CONNECT WITH ME!
Website and Blog: http://www.leestjohnauthor.com/
Newspaper: Newnan Times-Herald Contributor, Newnan, Georgia
The Fayette County News, Fayetteville, Georgia
Radio/podcast: upcoming “Spilling the Beans Book Club” with Lee St. John on 99FM
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Atlanta Writers Club
Can be found on Amazon.com
BIO: Good Grief – haven’t I said enough? I will add I am an only child (yes, it shows), married for 34 years to my best friend, proud of our two adult sons, and love our rescue Schnauzer, Obie, who looks like a TATER-TOT.