Friday, April 5, 2019

Tim Johnston Interview - The Current

Photo Credit: Christine Beane

Tim Johnston is the author of the novels Descent and The Current (Jan 22, 2019), the story collection Irish Girl, and the Young Adult novel Never So Green. Published in 2009, the stories of Irish Girl won an O. Henry Prize, the New Letters Award for Writers, and the Gival Press Short Story Award, while the collection itself won the 2009 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Tim’s stories have also appeared in New England Review, New Letters, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Double Take, Best Life Magazine, and Narrative Magazine, among others. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2011-12 he was the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington Fellow at The George Washington University, and he is the recipient of the 2015 Iowa Author Award. Tim currently lives in Iowa City, Iowa.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Iowa City, IA, & I came back three years ago to write The Current & I'm still here.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Do not be in a rush. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Find peers & teachers, readers & editors, who can give you honest & useful feedback. Also, writing is always there. After raising the family & having the other career or whatever, you can always begin writing. Or begin again.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
One day at the University of Iowa, my teacher & advisor Brooks Landon asked me if I'd ever thought about graduate school. I hadn't. And I went. UMass, Amherst. I got my MFA, & then I became a carpenter, & that's how I supported my more-than-a-hobby for the next 25 years. 

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THE CURRENT?
The moment I first saw Katie Goss again, when Audrey goes to see her in Rochester. Katie had been just a minor character early in the book—one more casualty of those terrible events of 10 years ago—& now here she was, living her life, raising her little girl. My heart cracked open. 

What part of Audrey did you enjoy writing the most?
Her strangeness. Her directness & her open-ness to experience. Her connection to a realm she can see & smell & touch but can't entirely believe is real. Her bravery. 

What book would you recommend for others to read?
True Grit by Charles Portis.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
How much pain was in them. And love. How connected those two things are. 

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am working on working on the new novel. But I am a VERY slow worker.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Ove from A Man Called Ove. He is entirely hilarious & damaged & beautiful & addictive.

  • Open City, Teju Cole
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy
  • Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger
  • Islands in The Stream, Earnest Hemingway
  • Dog of The South, Charles Portis
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor
  • Independent People, Haldor Laxness
  • Last Night, James Salter
  • Molloy, Samuel Beckett
At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?
All of them.

If your life was a song, what would the title be?
"Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." U2 has one by the same title. 

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Danny Glick

Who was your first girlfriend?
Cindy Rowe. We met at a kind of religious camp in high school (it was a phase)...but she lived in Kansas & I lived in Iowa, so.

Tell me about your first kiss
Cindy Rowe...on the dock by the lake at that camp, at sunset. "Tell me are you a Christian child?" / And I said "Ma'am, I am tonight" (Marc Cohn, "Walking in Memphis")

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Handing the ARC of Descent to my father at his favorite restaurant after a round of golf. He died a year later. 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
Any point in that last year of my dad's life, so I could ask him more questions, & tell him more things, like how important he'd been to me. To who I'd become. 

Where can readers find you?
Other than my sofa, the best bets are Twitter & FB Messenger I also have a website,

A Stunning New Novel from the Bestselling Author of Descent

Tim Johnston, whose 2015 national bestseller Descent was called “astonishing” by the Washington Post and “unforgettable” by the Miami Herald, returns with another tour de force about the indelible impact of acrime on the lives of innocent people.

When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them. One father is forced to relive his agony while another’s greatest desire—to bring a killer to justice—is revitalized . . . and the girl who survived the icy plunge cannot escape the sense that she is connected to that earlier unsolved case by more than a river. Soon enough she’s caught up in an investigation of her own that will unearth long-hidden secrets, and stoke the violence that has long simmered just below the surface of the town. Souls frozen in time, ghosts and demons, the accused and the guilty, all stir to life in this cold northern place where memories, like treachery, run just beneath the ice, and where a young woman can come home but still not be safe.

Brilliantly plotted, unrelentingly suspenseful, and beautifully realized, The Current is a gripping page-turner about how the past holds the key to the future as well as an unbreakable grip on the present.

Praise for THE CURRENT

“Gripping as it is, Johnston’s masterful novel is worth lingering over—it soars above the constraints of a traditional thriller and pulls you deep into the secrets of a grief-stricken town.” —People

“Johnston dazzled with his breakout thriller, Descent; his follow-up is a more ambitious page-turner, unpacking how a shocking murder impacts the denizens of a small Minnesota town as they weather suspicion, guilt, and grief.” —Entertainment Weekly (The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019)

“Tim Johnston’s second novel, The Current, is even better than his first, which is saying something. He’s a terrific writer and definitely a name to watch.” —Dennis Lehane, author of Since We Fell

“Johnston writes in gracefully exact language with genuine heart . . . reminiscent of writers like Annie Proulx and Richard Bausch.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Tim Johnston’s gripping second novel is much more than a skillfully constructed, beautifully written whodunit. It’s a subtle and lyrical acclamation of the heart and spirit of small-town America. The Current is not your conventional, frenetically paced page-turner, although it smolders with a brooding, slow-burn tension that nudges the reader forward, catching you up in the lives of the troubled solitaries at the book’s core.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

“Pick up Tim Johnston's suspenseful novel The Current and you risk finding yourself glued to your chair, eyes to the pages, no thought of attending to daily obligations. Johnston's elegant, cinematic style takes us into the characters' lives and history, problems and concerns. The book examines that horrifying moment when everything changes, the before and after when love, friendship, hopes and trust turn into dread, guilt, blame and grief.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Tim Johnston’s new novel, The Current, is an exceptional tale of suspicion and secrets—and a strong follow-up to his excellent 2015 book, Descent.” —Cedar Rapids Gazette

“The author of Descent, returns with a tour de force about the indelible impact of a crime on the lives of innocent people.” —The Wichita Eagle

“[An involving and layered thriller . . . Johnston’s prose is so lyrical you want to stop and read it again.” —St. Paul Pioneer Press

“With The Current, Johnston presents readers with another slate of unforgettable characters.” —The Missourian

“Along with his poetic style, the author’s acknowledgement of the complicated nuances inherent in friendship, family and love, especially the love of a parent for a child, elevate this tale to literary fiction.” —The Columbus Dispatch

“With unhurried ease The Current carries us along, mirroring that fatal river, as clear as winter ice on the surface while beneath flowing darkly into the past.” —The Barnes and Noble Review

“Seriously suspenseful.” —HelloGiggles

“This novel is careful layer upon careful layer, as deceptively thick yet brutally delicate as winter ice itself. Johnston's descriptions of people, places, grief, and loneliness are subtle and evocative; the minor plot about an aging dog becomes a rending portrait of the ravages of love. Indeed, for all its harsh observations about human nature, this novel has at its heart a strong belief that love, for all the pain it brings, is the one thing that truly saves us. An apt title that functions as a beautiful metaphor for all the secrets and emotions roiling beneath the surface of every human life.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[An] outstanding thriller . . . Johnston imbues each character with believable motives. The nuanced plot delves deep into how a community—and surviving relatives—deal with the aftermath of a death.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Tim Johnston’s Descent, a complex missing-person thriller set in the shadowy wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, was one of 2015’s most pleasant surprises. His follow-up, The Current, is equally, if not more, impressive . . . as methodical as Johnston is at unwrapping his carefully plotted story, readers will churn throughThe Current's 400 pages—a paradox that only the most accomplished mystery writers ever achieve. The only complaint is that we might have to wait another three years for his next one.” —Amazon Book Review (Best Book of the Month)

“The Current is a rare creature: a gripping thriller and page turner but also a masterwork of mood and language. You’ll want to go fast at the same time you’ll be compelled to savor each and every word.” —Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley

"Tim Johnston is the best thing to come along in crime fiction in years. With Descent and The Current he has already established himself as one of the best writers in the game, with an original voice that calls to mind the likes of Cormac McCarthy and Dennis Lehane but is entirely his own. With its beautiful prose, deeply emotional storytelling, and craftsman's eye for detail, The Current made me want to read slower, and write better." —Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of How It Happened

“I would have taken a break long before 2:00 a.m. last night were it not for Johnston’s masterly ability to rummage inside the heads of his various characters, revealing the frayed fabric of small-town life in the process and showing us the stand-up grit of a handful of women and men . . . We need a little hyperbole if we’re going to adequately describe how much we love a Tim Johnston novel.” —Bill Ott, Booklist

“Johnson plots out intricate story lines—his character development is thorough and intensive . . . what an invigorating read!” —Dayton Daily News

“The Current is moody, layered crime fiction at its finest; you’ll be tempted to tear through the pages, but, slow down. The lyrical language is worth lingering over.” —The Augusta Chronicle

“Tim Johnston has given us the gold standard of lush narrative description—captivating, mesmerizing, stunning. It's doubtful you'll ever read a more beautifully written book than The Current.” —The New York Journal of Books

“The Current is a haunting story . . . Johnston masterfully describes people, their grief, their guilt, and loneliness. He brings out both the brutal and loving sides of human nature. It is a real treat for those who love thrillers.” —The Washington Book Review

You can purchase The Current: A Novel at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TIM JOHNSTON for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Current by Tim Johnston .