Tim Johnston biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Tim Johnston
Photo: Dave Boerger

Tim Johnston

Tim Johnston Biography

Tim Johnston is the author of the debut adult novel Descent, the story collection Irish Girl, and the young adult novel Never So Green. Published in 2009, the stories in 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. In 2005 the title story, "Irish Girl," was included in the David Sedaris anthology of favorites, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. Johnston's stories have also appeared in New England Review, New Letters, the Iowa Review, the Missouri Review, DoubleTake, Best Life Magazine, and Narrative Magazine, among others. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He currently teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Memphis.

Tim Johnston's website

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Interview

Tim Johnston discussed his first adult novel, Descent - the inspiration behind the book, and how he came to write a thriller.

Descent is essentially a literary page-turner with a plot ripped from the headlines—a teenage girl mysteriously disappears while out on a run—but the telling of the story is so unlike any other thriller. You go into remarkable depth about how this sudden disappearance affects every family member, showing each character's own secrets and tribulations. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration for your novel?

This story, and these characters, snuck up on me as I was doing the finish work on a house way up in the Rocky Mountains. I was all alone up there for months, happy just being a carpenter for a while—that is to say, not actively trying to write—when this family of four, the Courtlands, became so prevalent, so insistent in my head that one day I had to drop what I was doing—painting a bathroom, as it happens—and begin writing.

The inspiration was a combination of the solitude, the carpentry, the astounding mountains themselves, and the books I was reading at the time, which were infused with an American West harshness, vastness, and lyricism that thrilled me. This was suddenly the kind of novel I wanted to write—although it would be a long time before I would admit to anyone, least of...

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Books by this Author

Books by Tim Johnston at BookBrowse
Descent jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Tim Johnston but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Peter Heller

    Peter Heller

    Heller was born and raised in New York. He attended high school in Vermont and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became an outdoorsman and whitewater kayaker. He traveled the world as an expedition kayaker, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Descent

    Try:
    The Painter
    by Peter Heller

  • Stephanie Kuehn

    Stephanie Kuehn

    Stephanie Kuehn grew up in Berkeley, California. She holds degrees in linguistics and sport psychology, and is currently working toward a doctorate in clinical psychology. Other passions include mental health advocacy, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Descent

    Try:
    Complicit
    by Stephanie Kuehn

We recommend 3 similar authors

View all 3 Readalikes

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Book Discussion
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