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Johnson consoles through novels

Author’s writing grew out of counseling

November 16, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

For over 30 years, Joy Johnson and her husband offered grief counseling to people, helping them regain their lives. It's that background that has led her to write a series of books dubbed The BOOB Girls, other wise known as the burned out old broads at table 12.

Johnson will appear at the Estherville Public Library Community Room 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Her most recent iteration of The BOOB Girls series, Murder at Meadow Lakes, is the fourth book and came out this past June. Johnson plans for the fifth book to come out about the same time next year.

Article Photos

Author Joy Johnson with her best friend

Johnson describes her work as comedy/mystery for seasoned women, or, to put it into perspective, "all of us who grew up with Nancy Drew."

While the comedy/mystery genre seems a departure from the bereavement literature she marketed through her company, the intent is the same - to provide people an outlet through fiction that's funny, heartwarming and inspirational. She self-publishes through Grief Illustrated Press, the publishing arm of her and her husband's company, She and her husband also founded Teddy Bear Hollow, a center for grieving children. Johnson's daughter took over the helm of Centering a few years ago so Joy could devote more time to her writing.

While many authors draw on real-life people for their characters, Johnson said that's not at all the case for her.

"Absolutely none of them are people I know. They just sort of appeared," she said.

That doesn't mean though that some very big real-life people haven't been instrumental in encouraging her writing career.

After her first book, Johnson received a letter from Phyllis Diller who endorsed her work. Diller, Johnson learned, had lost a number of children or have them fall victim to some tragedy.

As for Johnson, she finds herself championing the cause of older women.

"I do have a soapbox on every one of them. I think older women area beautiful," Johnson said.

Johnson also believes having older women as characters fills a literary niche.

"These are all widows. They've survived grief," says Johnson.

Not coincidentally, she targets woman 50-60 and up. And when she signs books for younger women, she often pens, "To a beautiful BOOB girl in training."

And they don't always use the traditional means to overcome that grief. In her first book, for example, her characters take off and don't leave a forwarding address.

Through it all, Johnson stresses the importance of laughter and that women are beautiful - regardless of their age.

With Estherville her 64th stop this year, Johnson also champions the role of libraries in communities, especially in rural areas.

"I think libraries are the heart of the town," said Johnson.

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