Interview with a Writer: Madeline Johnston

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Madeline Johnston onto the blog! Madeline and I have quickly become friends, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! I had the chance to read the first chapter of her WIP, and it was amazing! I’m so excited to hear what Madeline has to say today!

#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

Way back in 2005 and 2006, I was obsessed with “The Sims 2”. But it wasn’t about gaming for me, it was about the added feature of being able to create your own stories and upload them to the official website. Thousands of writers uploaded their stories, and me being eleven at the time, wanted to be exactly like them. I ended up writing a story about a teenage girl who could see ghosts at an abandoned train station — don’t you love the mind of an eleven year old?

But what made me want to become an author? Hands down reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare when it first came out. All those disorganized stories as an eleven year old slowly became more book-like over the years since!

#2. Where do you usually get your ideas?

Everywhere! I’m constantly refueling my well of creativity with television series, books, movies, anime, music, Pinterest, etc. A trope may catch my eye, like enemies to lovers for example, and I slowly create a story idea around that.

#3. What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I’m currently working on a YA Space Fantasy about magic in space, angry girls overthrowing evil galactic empires, and an enemies to lovers’ romance.

I’ve always wanted to write a book that blends two genres together (science fiction and fantasy), and I’ve never written enemies to lovers before. With these two ideas in mind, I slowly began creating a story around them.

#4. Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursed and why?

The ultimate dream is to traditionally publish — whether it’s my current book, the one after, or the one after that. But every book I write is going to put me one step closer to one day seeing my book in a bookstore.

#5. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Honestly, this quote changed my life and I will share it forever: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” — Shannon Hale.

I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to get our book right the first time. I wrote many first drafts and never went back to them because they weren’t how I initially envisioned them. But since being in the writing community and seeing that quote, I’ve learnt that most of writing is rewriting, and the first draft is only the first step of getting something “book-shaped” to work with.

#6. When are you most creative?

Early hours of the morning or late afternoons. I wish that I could be one those writers who stay up late, writing into the night. But I need sleep otherwise I can’t properly function haha.

#7. What authors inspire you most?

Cassandra Clare was the author that inspired me to become an author. But Jay Kristoff, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, V. E. Schwab, Amanda Foody and Julie C. Dao are also some of my biggest inspirations.

#8. What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I am super excited to read King of Fools by Amanda Foody, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho and There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool.

#9. What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and it was a very dark, magical read! I’ve just started reading The Devouring Grey by Christine Lyn Herman and the writing is beautifully descriptive!

#10. What’s your favorite book or book series?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is one my all-time favorites, as well as the entire Mortal Instruments series. I’m also obsessed with Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and The Wicked King by Holly Black.

#11. Favorite childhood book?

My favorite books to read growing up were the Pony Pals series. From what I remember, you didn’t have to read them in any particular order and I borrowed them from my school’s library all the time. Once I hit high school, anything with vampires and werewolves grabbed my attention. Thanks, Twilight!

#12. Biggest book pet peeve?

When the book forces together two characters that have no real chemistry — or forces them together too quickly without the excitement of the buildup. Give me slow burn romances any day!

#13. What book has made you cry?

Can I just say that I weep with total happiness/anger/sadness whenever I read a Cassandra Clare book?

#14. Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m the absolute worst and spend most of my writing time eating chocolate or cookies or both. I quite literally put on like 10kg whenever I write a book, oops. But they are just so delicious and my self-control is very minimal and, guys, life is too short.

#15. What your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise — or both!

I sometimes worry that no one out there will like my book or even understand it. After putting so much passion into this project, what if the only person who likes it is just me?

Also birds. Birds are terrifying.

#16. What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I read a lot. I also love baking all types of chocolate-y treats. I really want to get more into kick-boxing, but I’m a sloth at heart and much rather curl up into a ball on the couch and watch Netflix with my cats.

#17. Biggest real life pet peeve?

People who are always late to meet-ups, they drive me nuts!

#18. Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

It is always important to remember why you started writing in the first place. Writing a book is such a complicated, stressful journey — you’ll want to quit, you’ll want to give up. But thinking back to your why can help reignite your passion and put things back into perspective.

All About Madeline


Madeline is a marketing coordinator by day, an aspiring author by night and a full-time mama of three adorable rescue kitties. She writes books about angry and scheming girls, monstrous boys, dark settings, found families full of misfits and lots of magic.

When she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend her spare time baking, watching Star Wars or Star Trek, eating too much chocolate (it’s a serious problem), screaming over anime and listening to music way too loud. Her hero is Jay Kristoff.

You can follow Madeline on her blog and on Twitter!

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