Sadeqa Johnson is the author of the new novel And Then There Was Me. She also has written the novels Second House From the Corner and Love in a Carry-on Bag. A former public relations manager, she is also a motivational speaker and blogger. She lives in Virginia.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for And Then There Was Me, and what does the title signify for you?
A: The idea for And Then There Was Me came from a story my husband told me. He had a friend who was badly betrayed by her best friend and as he was telling me the story, it was as if the idea latched itself into my skin and wouldn't let go until I started drafting the book.
The story came very quickly for me and it is the first novel that I have written that didn't have me and my life at the center of the story. It was scary to write from a place of pure fiction with nothing of me to rest on, but also exhilarating to find this new voice inside of me.
The title was very serendipitous. I was sitting at my desk writing down titles and then a little voice said, And Then There Was Me. I loved it right away. For me, And Then There Was Me signifies a woman/wife/mother who puts everyone first and then as a last thought she thinks of herself. It goes very well with the plot of the story.
Q: For much of the book your main character, Bea, is pregnant, serving as a surrogate for her husband's cousin. Why did you decide to include surrogacy as a theme in the book?
A: I decided to include surrogacy because it's not a topic that comes up a lot even though it happens more than we know. When I started researching the topic I was fascinated with the information that I found and wanted to really share that experience with readers. Bea carrying Lonnie's cousin's baby also gave her another level of sainthood that I liked. Again, putting everyone's needs before her own.
Q: Another theme is bulimia. Why did you choose to incorporate that in the novel?
A: It wasn't a conscious effort to include bulimia. I was writing the first draft of the story and Bea threw up on my page. I stopped for a second and I could feel the hairs raise up on my forearms. I wrote down, Bea are you bulimic? And Bea said yes. I dove right into the world doing online research and even interviewing women who suffered from the disease.
I do enjoy writing about people battling addictions and self-demons. I’m often asking the question, what happens when a person hits rock bottom and has to find a way out? The resilience of the disease is what kept me writing about it and I hope I've shed some light for those who need it.
Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I did not know the ending when I started the book. I am a hopeless romantic on every level so I had to make some tough choices in this book. In the end I'm glad that I didn’t give it a red bow.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm working on my fourth novel entitled Yellow Wife. It's a pre-Civil War story set in 1850 and it takes place in Richmond. It's the story of a mulatto girl who marries her Master and has five children with him.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: If you haven't had a chance to pick up my other novels, please look for Love in a Carry-on Bag and Second House From the Corner. You can find out more information about me by going to my website. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks so much for taking the time out to read this interview. All the best!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb