Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview : Her by Felicia Johnson

Title: Her
Author: Felicia Johnson
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA/Fiction
Publisher: 8th Street Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print (Soon to be a Movie)
Trigger Warnings: Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, Depression, Child Abuse, Self-Harm


In many ways, Kristen Elliott is a normal, seventeen-year-old girl. Kristen loves her family. She works hard academically, and tries to please her mother. She takes on the additional responsibility of caring for her twin siblings, Nick and Alison. She idealizes her best friend, Lexus, who not only seems to lead the perfect life, but also catches the attention of John, the boy Kristen secretly loves. However, as is the case with many teenagers, Kristen feels frustrated, isolated, and confused.
In other ways, Kristen is not like other kids her age. She knows something is wrong with her. Kristen feels like an utter failure. She is unable to please her abrasive mother, and scared to confront Jack, her abusive stepfather. She is also unable to protect Nick from Jack, making her fell all the more helpless. Adding to her problems, she knows she will never be as beautiful as her best friend Lexus. Kristen finds solace in self-injury, and the company of Mr. Sharp, her imaginary friend who encourages her feelings of self-loathing.
After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is placed in the Bent Creek mental hospital, where she is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. While in the hospital, she meets a group of peers suffering with their own mental illnesses, and a compassionate staff of doctors and counselors. From there, Kristen begins her journey to survival. She discovers the circumstances that brought her to this breaking point, struggles to understand her mental illness, and fights to be a survivor against her own worst enemy: her self-blame.
Kristen’s tale of endurance illustrates the complex illness of Borderline Personality Disorder. Readers – including those suffering from BPD and their friends and family – can glean insight into the illness from Kristen’s humanity. Her story is an example of how, if we try to push the past away, we are either doomed to repeat it or let it haunt us to our graves.

Stop and think, and you’ll discover that you probably know someone who is going through this right now. Yes, 1 out of every 4 people struggles with mental illness – the dark secret so many live with.

One of the most corrosive aspects of living with mental illness is the urge to keep it a secret. Felicia Johnson learned that secrets can be lethal, and courageously shines a light on a diagnosis rarely talked about: borderline personality disorder, or BPD. Your audience will appreciate her candour and this opportunity for insight.
In Felicia Johnson’s book Her, we walk in the shoes of a girl suffering with borderline personality disorder, share her hopes and struggles as she desperately tries to understand what is happening. It is an example of how if we try to push the past away, we are either doomed to repeat it or let it haunt us to our graves. This powerful and compelling story enables those suffering from BPD, and their friends and family, to turn the abstract concept of BPD into a more real understanding.

Meet Kristen Elliott, a normal seventeen-year-old who loves her family and friends and strives for their approval. But Kristen knows something is wrong with her. In her pain and isolation, she finds fleeting solace in self-injury, and the company of Mr. Sharp, her imaginary friend who feeds her feelings of self-loathing.

After a failed suicide attempt, Kristen is placed in a mental hospital and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). There, she discovers the circumstances that brought her to this breaking point, struggles to understand her mental illness, and fights to be a survivor against her own worst enemy: her self-blame. It is a story of endurance, survival and finding hope from within.
The story is inspired by Felicia Johnson’s own life of survival and her childhood best friend, Holly who, at fifteen, committed suicide – a silent victim of untreated Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stemming from the trauma of childhood abuse. While Holly lost her battle with depression and BPD and at 15 years old took her own life, we can make a difference in showing teens that they are not alone on this journey and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her also illuminates the harsh reality of child abuse in the home and the long term psychological effects it has on everyone involved.”

Through Her, Felicia Johnson helps to bring the understanding of BPD within reach of many young people and families afflicted by it, and continues to help many come to terms with mental health issues they face.


What do you do when you are not writing?
I speak and advocate about mental health and to raise awareness about personality disorders. For fun, I like to spend time with my best friends and travel.
Where did you get your idea? -
When I was 15 years old I had a friend who had suffered from BPD. She lost her battle with depression and BPD when she committed suicide. I wanted to write a book to help raise awareness about mental health and personality disorders and promote prevention of suicide. This book is inspired to help family, friends and loved ones of those who are suffering with mental illness.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Cages of Glass, Flowers of Time by Charlotte Culin is a novel that I've read at least once a year, every year, since I was 14 years old. It helped me understand abuse and gave me hope.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your book published?
Mental illness is a controversial topic. This book is technically considered a YA Realistic Fiction novel. At the time I began to shop for publishers, paranormal romance ruled the YA genre. It was hard to get a book with such a serious and taboo subject matter out there for others to read.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I feel that word of mouth is best. I sell myself to everyone I come in contact with. I do speaking engagements and trainings on mental health, trauma and abuse. People seem to want to educate themselves more on mental illness and mental health. I think it's because every day we see more people talking about their struggle with abuse and domestic violence. People are beginning to open up more and more. Even celebrities such as football player, Brandon Marshall, has opened up about his struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). People  are beginning to see that this is a real topic that needs to be discussed.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
I think that the process is going the way that it is supposed to be going. All will come in due time. I will continue to work hard and strive to raise more awareness using the avenues that I'm blessed with.
Tell us about the first story you ever wrote and how old you were.
I wrote my first novel at 6 years old. I was in second grade and my teacher, Mrs. Medley, gave us an assignment to write one paragraph about something that we wanted. I received my first composition notebook. That weekend, at home, I filled up all 100 pages about wanting a dog. My first novel was titled “I Want A Dog.” When Mrs. Medley saw what I had written, she encouraged me to continue to write and predicted that one day I would become an author.
Do you prefer to live in a big city or in the country?
The city is great because there is a lot to explore and so many shops and places to explore are accessible. On the other hand, the country is peaceful, private and seems to have a bit more security. I can appreciate both the city and the country.


Night Owl or Early Bird? - Early Bird, unfortunately haha
One food you would never eat? - I tried clam once, I'm allergic. Never again!
Pet Peeves? - Lack of communication. I'm a strong communicator.
Plain or Peanut (M&Ms)? - A bowl filled with both!

Coffee or Tea? - Depends on the day and time. I like both. 

“We need help in turning this book into a movie, so we can reach thousands more and change the perception of mental illness and enable those who need the help to get it, help those going through this and also help families of those going through this to understand what their loved ones are facing. My goal is to help put an end to stigma on mental health and provide hope to those who seek help.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway Book Trailers 

FELICIA JOHNSON is a child abuse survivor, writer, sought-after speaker, mental health worker, and youth advocate. She loves ice cream, and seeing her little sister, Laura, smile. She is an active youth mentor at Youth Villages Inner Harbour and has been a volunteer with the Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN). Johnson readily engages an audience with the moving story behind her latest book, Her. It is the story of a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who courageously peels back the layers of her complex and serious mental illness in a desperate attempt to understand it. 

Places to find Felicia Johnson

Her the Book Website

Places to find Her

Book Trailers (Please Share These With Your Post)
   The Pain
   The Hope