Iowa State English Lecturer Margaret Johnson recently published her second book, “The Crimes of Clara Turlington."
Johnson’s first book, a collection of poetry titled “Inappropriate Sleepover," was published in March 2014. As a lecturer in the English department, Johnson has taught English 250, and is currently teaching several sections of English 150.
Johnson said she has loved writing ever since she was young.
“I’m definitely an arts person," Johnson said. "I’ve always just loved the arts in general."
In high school, Johnson wrote poems for the school literary magazine. Before becoming a writer, Johnson was in a professional dance company for six years.
Johnson said that her books tend to be funny and dark, but to her the new book is a lot darker, citing influences like noir.
“This was sort of the book that I didn’t expect to write,” Johnson said, adding that she had great mentors that helped her through the process.
Johnson said that writing is a process of putting one's self out there. She said that for some students, even English 150 is putting themselves out there, so creating a safe environment for them is important.
Johnson said that when it comes to completing a novel, sticking with it is the key.
“I think with writing, you have to like being by yourself,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that one of the most rewarding things about the process are the surprises that come along the way.
“It’s fun to surprise yourself. Maybe something becomes darker than you expected or you write something you never expected to write about,” Johnson said.
She added that being able to spend time by yourself and “lock yourself in that room” is an important skill for a writer to have when it comes to getting work finished.
Revision was important to her writing process, Johnson said, adding that she tries to carry that over to the classroom in order to improve students’ work.
“I think it’s cool that we have an English lecturer here who has a book published. It’s always nice to see that teachers have experience in the field,” said pre-graphic design sophomore Kirsten Hodge.
“The most important thing is to read and write as much as possible, above anything else,” Johnson said.