Ujima had the opportunity to interview the author of a new book, Found In Black Texiana. The creation of this book is interesting and inspiring. Congratulations to Shannon Johnson on her awesome accomplishment.
Shannon, could you please give us a little bit of history about yourself?
I am a Senior Information Technology professional at a Fortune 100 company and I have a true passion for writing. Having majored in Management Information Systems at the University of Texas at Austin, I was never formally trained as a writer beyond the mandatory English Literature classes. Yet writing down my poems, thoughts and stories became a significant source of joy that I hid behind closed doors for many years. Most of my close family and friends didn’t even know I loved to write until I published my first book, Found in Black Texiana, in late 2012. I am married to a loving and supportive husband and I have two beautiful daughters.
The title of your book, how was it selected?
“Found” refers to the self-discovery of my joy of writing and deciding to share that joy with others.
“Black Texiana” is a cultural term I created to recognize African-American Texas residents that have Louisiana heritage and embrace both the Texas and Louisiana cultures. I was born and raised in Texas but both my parents and all of my aunts and uncles were born and raised in Louisiana. My parents, my brother and I often travelled to Louisiana for the holidays to spend time with extended family and it was a second home.
What was the inspiration to encourage you to write your book?
My daughters provided the inspiration for my book because I wanted them to know my poetry and I also wanted them to know more about their Louisiana heritage. My daughters are too young to understand many of the poems and stories or try to make the recipes I included, but I hope one day when they have a family of their own they will pick up the book and seek to understand my thoughts while I wrote. I would also love for my daughters to create a permanent legacy for their own children and pass along the importance of following your passion.
Since this book also represents a spiritual journey of love, being lost and being found, I must acknowledge my faith also provided all the groundwork for this book and is a constant inspiration to me.
What is the message you hope readers will take away from your writing?
My book didn’t start out as a poetry memoir and I didn’t have it all figured out in the beginning. Since my book is a collection of poetry, Louisiana recipes, notes to my daughters and stories of travelling back to Louisiana to visit family, I couldn’t fit it into a single writing genre. That was a problem. The first rule of trying to publish a book is that it MUST fit into a genre, which threatened to stall my progress with traditional publishing. That is when I decided to continue to pursue my dream of sharing my writing through self-publication. The message I want readers to take away is that the unconventional road less travelled can be daunting but is well worth the effort.
Are there any future plans for writing or any new projects you would like to share?
Yes, I do have future plans for writing. I have started my next writing project and it is my first venture into a fiction novel. All of my writing centers around my fascination with Texas, Louisiana and religion and my fiction project will be an exciting extension. I also write monthly on my blog that can be found on my website: www.YourTexiana.com/blog.
For book purchase information see information below.