Abigail Johnson: “When we read stories that mirror our own we feel less alone.”

Abigail Johnson

[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Abigail Johnson and ask her five(ish) questions. Abigail’s novel Every Other Weekend is out Jan 7th!]

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?

Abigail: Every Other Weekend was inspired by an old episode of The Wonder Years where Kevin falls for a girl he meets on vacation and then has to leave her behind when he comes home. I started wondering about what it might have been like if they’d continued to see each other regularly, but briefly, and forged a relationship that was totally separate from their ‘real’ lives back home. Adam and Jolene’s story evolved radically from that inspiration—they always do—and there were other influences that played a role including Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and my own childhood growing up in Pennsylvania.

 What character do you most relate to and why?

Jolene is the character I most relate to. Hands down. My life experiences are completely different from hers but we have a similar sense of humor and love for 80’s movies. We also both tend to act before we think which often gets us in trouble. 

Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?

Relatable characters can often feel more real and alive than more fantastical characters—though I love those too. There is a connection that readers create with characters who are going through real-life situations they themselves have been through or have witnessed in the lives of people they are close to. As magical as it is to read about a boy discovering he’s a wizard, that’s sadly not something any of us will get to experience. But parents splitting up? A friend or family member falling ill? Falling in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way back? That’s real-life for so many of us. When we read stories that mirror our own we feel less alone. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.

Every Other Weekend is a dual point of view story about two teens, a boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and a girl who thinks love is for fools, who meet and spend every other weekend together at the same rundown Philadelphia apartment building. Readers can expect a messy, complicated, romantic, funny, heartbreaking and heart-healing story of first love. There are tons of movie references, deeply broken families, characters you love to hate, text messages, sneaking out, kissing, fighting, and kissing again. I hope readers laugh, they’ll probably cry, but I promise they’ll be smiling by the last page.

What’s next for you in the book world? 

More contemporary YA! I’m working on a loath-at-first-sight story right now that I can’t get enough of. I’m also branching out a little with a YA thriller that is super intense and fast-paced.  I hope to have more official news to share soon!

Who is your favorite writer right now and why?

 That’s an evil question so it’s getting a slightly evil answer. I have to limit this to contemporary YA because my brain will explode if I try to include more than that genre. I’m constantly discovering new authors that I love for different reasons. Kasie West is my go-to for rom-coms, John Green, Jeff Zentner, and Tamara Ireland Stone are my break-my-heart-with-their-stunning-writing-and-equally-stunning-stories authors, and I always have to list Rainbow Rowell because her characters—specifically Eleanor and Park—are the ones that I will forever carry in my heart.

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