Interview with author KT Johnston

[ 1 ] 27/09/2020 |

I got to know KT Johnston, and read her amazing debut children’s book, via a small group on Facebook where a couple of writers from around the world discuss and support each other. Writing doesn’t always have to be a lonely journey :). KT writes historical narrative nonfiction, and her book Railway Jack got published this year by Capstone. It’s the true story about a man, his baboon service animal, and their great friendship. Definitely worth a read as there’s so much the kids can take out of it!

KT’s interest in the past developed from a sweeping curiosity about the way things were and how history has impacted the way things are. She enjoys feeding her interests by traveling, whether she’s touring a historical site, experiencing a foreign land, or mind-wandering in a good book. Born in Minnesota, USA, KT earned a degree in biology and conducted wildlife studies before settling into a corporate career as an analyst. KT hopes to inspire others to be curious about our world as well, one true story at a time.

How would you describe yourself in 10 words?
Deep-thinking knowledge nerd; enjoy new places in time, place, imagination.

How did you get started with writing your first book?
My daughter had gone off to college and my nest was empty. She and I were discussing the craft of a book she’d been assigned in Spanish Lit. I found the 2nd person narration in Aura by Carlos Fuentes fascinating. An idea popped into my head about a book (“Wouldn’t it be cool if…”) and I started describing it to her. She said, with an excessive level of enthusiasm, “Maybe you should write it!” I think her motivation was not merely to help me find something fulfilling to occupy myself with but also to distract me so I wouldn’t keep telling her how much I missed her. I thought, “Hmm. Maybe I will….” And I did.

What do you wish that children will take out of your book?
History provides a reference point for interpreting the world. I try to elevate tiny episodes from the past that were perhaps inconsequential at the time but have indirect echoes today. RAILWAY JACK is a true story of disability and resourcefulness, perseverance, and practicality. It describes a service animal decades before the concept existed. Jim was an everyday person like most of us are, and Jack was an ordinary animal who nonetheless made a profound difference in a man’s life. I hope my books seed a child’s conversations with their adults about human issues as well as spur an enthusiasm for knowing more about our world.

Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in getting your book published?
Perseverance, belief in my work, patience.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
As relates to writing, I’d say finishing my first manuscript and learning there’s no market for novella-length manuscripts from debut authors in the U.S., LOL. But I learned I can write and I can get all the way to The End—and that I could do it again.

Tell me about your proudest achievement.
Besides my great kids? Publishing RAILWAY JACK!

Who do you admire most and why?
I admire this person (anonymous to protect their privacy) for their ability to always land on their feet, set high goals & achieve them, succeed in all things they attempt despite any curve ball lobbed their way, and care deeply about people and issues.

If you could travel back in time and give advice to your teenage self what would that be?
At the crossroads, don’t let uncertainty pressure you onto the easy path.

If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
It’s probably better I don’t know the truth to those burning questions, LOL.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Probably that my husband asked straight out when I was going to get my hair cut. My weedy Lockdown Look is apparently getting to him.

How can we introduce the love of reading to our youth?
By being an example. Read a lot yourself; they will see you. Tell them about the books you’re reading. Ask them about the ones they’re reading. Discuss books together in an in-home Book Club and/or help them form a Book Club with their friends. Make library visits part of the routine of life. Gift a book for every birthday. Set up a game of Reading Bingo to encourage them to read a variety of genres. Bring them to a signing event for an author who writes for their age-group in a genre they’re interested in. For older readers, for books that have been made into movies, read and watch both and discuss the adaptation. Expose, incorporate, examine.

What would you advise young kids and teenagers who love books and would like to publish their own?
To read all sorts of books, write what wants to come out without trying to write like someone else, and get lots of feedback on their work.

What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years from now?
My second book will be out in January 2022. I have so many more book ideas and a few already in the works, so by 5 years, I hope to have several more books out, and even more by 10. I hope to be enjoying my writing in official retirement by then!

How can the readers get in touch with you and where can they find your book?
Facebook:          @AuthorKTJohnston
Twitter:              @KTDidz

RAILWAY JACK is available through all major distributors so it can be purchased wherever books are sold, or from the publisher at

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Comments (1)

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  1. Sharon Giltrow says:

    I loved learning more about your KT and your writing journey. Congratulations!

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