How Acclaimed Debut Author Jocelyn Nicole Johnson Writes


Critically-acclaimed debut author, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, spoke to me about becoming a late-stage “literary debutante,” Walmart militias, and the #writinglife as an introvert.

Jocelyn is a veteran public school art teacher, whose short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2018, guest-edited by New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay, and read live by LeVar Burton as part of PRI’s Selected Shorts series.

Her buzzy debut is 2021 Kirkus Prize Finalist, My Monticello, five stories and a novella all set in Virginia. It has been described as a “…precisely imagined [novel exploring] burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging….Set in the near future…”

It was selected by National Book award winner Charles Yu as his most anticipated book of the year, hailed as a “masterly feat” by the NY Times, called “electrifying” by Colson Whitehead, and “absolutely unforgettable” by Roxane Gay.

Netflix recently bought the title novella “My Monticello” for adaptation and Jocelyn’s writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli, Joyland, among others, and she has been a fellow at TinHouse, Hedgebrook and VCCA.

Stay calm and write on …

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If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please “Follow” us to automatically see new interviews In this file Jocelyn Nicole Johnson and I discussed:

  • What inspired her quasi-dystopian fiction
  • How she was discovered at a short story reading
  • Why getting tweeted by Roxane Gay was a game-changer
  • How to build a writing community as a wallflower
  • And a lot more!

Show Notes:

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