I live on Mercer Island, Washington, near Seattle, with my wife Jill, my filmmaker son Ben, who is now a weekend visitor, and three dogs; Sunshine, Piccolo, and Chloe.
My daughter April, who is currently making a documentary film, lives nearby in Seattle, and my first son, Colby, a filmmaker, lives in New Orleans. (I have to wonder if a gene for filmmaking runs in my family!) At the age of seventy-eight, I now pursue my two passions: writing and jazz guitar. I was born and raised outside of Birmingham, Alabama. You can take a Southerner out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of a Southerner!
As a boy I had the good fortune of growing up with the space and freedom to be outside, have adventures, explore, and get into trouble. A boy’s purpose in life is to have fun, and the tantalizing possibility of getting into trouble added spice to that purpose. I was also blessed with a rich heritage of storytelling from the members of my wonderful, extended Southern family. I share some of my family stories in the Blackwater Novels.
My boyhood in the South and my college years at the University of Alabama also gave me first-hand experience of the good people coming together with love to help each other and to confront racial hatred. I am grateful to my Southern past for giving me the rich experiences to draw on in writing the Blackwater Novels. I consider these books to be parables on how to live. This may explain why some things work out better in the novels than they do in real life.
— Allen Johnson Jr.
Interview by John Seigenthaler, host of NPT’s A Word on Words, Publisher of The Tennessean, and Editor of USA Today