ABOUT AUTHOR: Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd's career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House.
A graduate of
Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.
The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson's first novel, debuted in 2012. Todd's second novel, Critical Reaction, was released in October 2013.
How did you come up with the idea for Critical Reaction?
In 1997, my firm accepted a case involving workers exposed to a smoky plume from an explosion at the Hanford Nuclear Facility. It was an eye opening experience, as we learned about this six hundred square mile facility that had been in operation for fifty-five years, but of which I’d heard virtually nothing–even after living half a decade in
Seattle. While I was careful in the book to avoid any persons or companies or even the true events in our case, that six year litigation was an education about the high cost America paid to defend itself during the Cold War, and the inspiration for Critical Reaction.
What was your favorite scene in Critical Reaction? Which was the must fun to write?
My favorite scene to write in Critical Reaction was a courtroom scene involving “Poppy” Martin, one of the workers injured in the explosion. Poppy is on the stand as a witness. He has been subjected to severe company harassment intended to break him, and now faces a decision: whether to tell the truth on the stand about the explosion, or to avoid the question and protect his retirement.
Courtrooms lend themselves to considerable drama, and I really enjoyed developing that scene.
What authors have inspired you?
My favorite modern authors are Pat Conroy and Harper Lee. Conroy’s ability to develop character and place while growing suspense is wonderful. To Kill a Mockingbird is simply my favorite novel of all time.
Nora: So many author say that their favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm going to have to carve out time to read it!
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Can you share your testimony with us?
I became a Christian in college. I came to Christ while a member of the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, a group which was going through a transition on the campus at the time. The evangelical presence on campus was quite small, but I was connected up with it by a friend at the time. It was a tumultuous time of change for me (as it is for so many at that age), and my newborn faith lent a stability I sorely needed.
Nora: Thanks for sharing your testimony with us Todd! Grin!
You write about a pretty intense topic; do you think this could happen to us in the
USA? What hope do you want readers to take away from this pretty bleak situation?
Well, an explosion did happen at
Hanford in 1997, as I mentioned. In fact, there have been dozens of explosions or accidents at atomic defense facilities in the United States, including critical reaction events. Also, the factual backdrop for the novel is entirely accurate: all of the facts about the contamination at Hanford; the irradiated foliage and animals; the lost plutonium; the buried white trains, and the rest, are well documented and entirely accurate.
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As for the underlying actions by the corporate defendant, I’d like to think no person or corporation would be capable of such duplicity. The hope for the reader, of course, is the same as that in the book: that people of good conscience, and particularly people of faith, will stand up and do the right thing, even in the face of significant personal risk.
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what books affected you most?
The very first movie I ever saw was “Old Yeller”. That’s a pretty tough film for a five year old, and it stuck with me! I think I could recite the plot to this day.
But regardless of how traumatizing that first movie was, it launched a lifelong long of movies. I would enjoy it very much if one of my books made it to the big screen.
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?
|Catching up with readers|
I’m kind of an explorer. When I was young, I’d go with friends to explore fields, woods, follow creeks: even explore abandoned farmhouses near my hometown. Later, I loved trips to the boundary waters, knowing I carried my entire world in my pack. I still love camping and hiking.
I’d do what was needed, but given a choice, I’d volunteer to explore the island and help with keeping food on the collective table. (The only job I’m sure the group should keep away from me would be cooking. There’s only so much I could do with cocoanuts).
A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?
I am a history buff, so there are dozens of places and times I’d love to visit. But three over all the rest.
We can only imagine, from the Gospel descriptions of the crowds drawn to Jesus Christ, the power of hearing Jesus speak ‘in the flesh’. I would love to hear him: if possible, in the more intimate settings where he spoke among friends and his closest followers.
The second trip would be to see the figure I most admire in history, Abraham Lincoln. I would love to hear him telling the jokes for which he was famous. I’d also like to hear him giving his astonishing second inaugural address during the Civil War.
The third would be to see my father, coaching his small town basketball team in the tiny town of
, shortly after the war. I’d like to be in the stands when his team shocked rivals, winning a place in the State Tournament. Sioux Center, Iowa
Nora : Hey Todd, your the first author to take the Time Machine to more than one place. Fun!
What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!
Although it appears in my book flap, the first would be my service in the Diplomatic Corps in
Hong Kong. I served as a young officer during the tumultuous period when Great Britain was negotiating the return of Hong Kong to China in the mid-eighties, and during the run up to the Tiananmen Square incident in Beijing.
The second was a high school job where I worked as a “gandy dancer”, changing railroad ties for the Milwaukee Railroad through
Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. It was a job with a foot in the early part of the Twentieth Century, and one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.
TODD, ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS?
|Reading from Critical Reaction|
I’ve a dozen books in mind, most legal thrillers, but suspense and historical fiction as well. Keep reading, let me know your thoughts, and help me keep writing for many years to come! Stop by my website, I'd love to hear from you. http://authortoddmjohnson.com/
THANKS for stopping by Todd! It's great to know you and your books better. I'm thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity Bethany House Publishers has at TBCN Starting December 20th. There will be a 10 book giveaway and discussion. You've come up with three fun questions to ask readers. I'll be interested in that discussion.
Stop by The Book Club Network (TBCN) DECEMBER 20th
Check out the Front page CLICK the Link that will take you to the entry author page. www.bookfun.org
SEE YOU THERE!!
ALL ENTRIES ARE MADE AT TBCN NOT ON THIS BLOG POST!! www.bookfun.org