Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview: Sybil Johnson of Fatal Brushstrokes


I am delighted to welcome Sybil Johnson to the Back Porch today to let us know a little more about her new book, Fatal Brushstroke, the first "Aurora Anderson Mystery", and a little more about herself!  Be sure to check out my review and the giveaway published earlier today!


1.  So are you crafty in general and/or do you specialize in tole painting?

I’ve always enjoyed crafts and have tried out many different ones over the years. My mother taught me to embroider when I was in grade school.  My first project was a set of flour sack towels embroidered with cartoon mice. When I was a kid, I checked out issues of the Pack-o-Fun magazine 
from the library and did some of the projects. I’ve tried sewing, macramé, crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, calligraphy, counted cross-stitch, and tole painting. Counted cross-stitch and tole painting are my favorites, though, and the ones I do most often.

2.  What brought you to SoCal from the Pacific Northwest?

I moved to L.A. to go to college. I’d never been to L.A., but I’d always wanted to come here so I applied to the University of Southern California. They awarded me a full scholarship so I headed south. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science which was a fairly new field at the time, got a job here, and ended up staying.

3.  Have you written in other genres as well?

Not yet. Most of my ideas fall into the crime/mystery genre so that’s what I’ve been concentrating on. It’s also the genre I enjoy reading the most.

4.  If you could walk on the beach with any other writer from history, who would you ask, what would you talk about, and how would you stay hydrated?

Agatha Christie. After I got over being in her presence, I’d ask her what her work process was, what it was like to live through WWII in London, what it was like to be on archaeological digs with her husband, and what really happened during the time she was missing. (The answer to the last I would never reveal to a soul, of course, since she’d be telling me in confidence.) I’d be drinking peppermint water for hydration.

5.  Is there a set number of books in the Aurora Anderson mystery series or is it more fluid?

It’s fluid. I’m contracted for 3 books so far in the series. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’d like to keep writing Rory’s adventures as long as I come up with ideas.

6.  What is the hardest part of being an author?

Juggling writing and promotional activities. Posting on Facebook, tweeting, blogging, updating a website, posting reviews on Goodreads... It’s all a lot of fun, but can also eat up all of your writing time if you’re not careful.

7.  What is the raison d'etre of your writing?  What would you like to accomplish?

Reading has brought me a lot of enjoyment over the years and I’d like to return the favor. I’d like to write stories people enjoy reading. It’s as simple as that.

8.  I am impressed that you remember one of the first books you read.  Does your head for detail help you keep characters and stories straight?

I’m fortunate to be blessed with a good memory for details (or cursed depending on how you look at it.) That helps quite a bit in my writing, but things sometimes still get muddled in my brain, so I keep notes on all my projects. At one point, I did some script supervising (continuity) on a few student films. Script supervisors use a slew of forms to keep track of all the details they need to remember when filming. I’ve repurposed one or two of those forms to help me keep track of information in my books.

9.  What is the best book you've ever read?

That’s a tough one. I’ve read so many great books, fiction and non-fiction, over the years I don’t really have a favorite. So here are a few books I’ve read fairly recently that stand out in my mind: LOSING CLEMENTINE by Ashley Ream, AUNT DIMITY’S DEATH by Nancy Atherton, DIAL H FOR HITCHCOCK by Susan Kandel, DISSOLUTION by C.J. Sansom, DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson.



  1. These were fun questions to answer. Glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. I'm so glad, Sybil! I try to vary the questions from author to author and check out their website, etc. :O)