To the average onlooker, the city of Los Angeles represents glitz, glamour, and the celebrity lifestyle. But to seventeen-year-old Julie Jones, the city is a vast host of problems she’s longing to get away from. The latest? An unfortunate disagreement with her ex-boyfriend Mark—one that could land her in some serious hot water.
So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren’t on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.
With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?
What Julie doesn’t know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.
A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.
• How to tackle serious life issues in a story that teenagers would enjoy
Hi, and thank you for having me. Here’s one thing I learned from watching Disney movies: as long as you make the story relatable at a personal level, by touching the heart of the audience at the core, you can tackle any topic you want. And serious life issues, like growing up without parents, or being addicted to drugs, or having to survive death, and destruction, or the apocalypse, or teenage pregnancy, will never be relatable if the characters carrying the story aren’t somewhat likeable. That’s why I use animation movies as inspiration for my writing, because what seems simple, and superficial, is actually very deep, and the message sticks with me. And when the story has a good balance of funny and sad moments, it’s a homerun.
Emotions speak to all of us. Once our emotions are triggered, and we get attached to the characters, their struggle becomes ours. It’s tough to be a teenager. But the beauty of being a teenager, is that the possibilities are infinite. They’re not adults yet, and not kids anymore. They’re strong, resilient, resourceful, and constant works in progress. They’re still so small against the big dangerous world. Practical necessities like paying the bills or looking for a job won’t be very attractive to a young audience. But talking about their feelings, and how they don’t quite fit in, how it’s tough to deal with a body constantly changing, and life on life’s terms, that will get a young (and older) mind going. As long as the writing touches the heart, any story can be told.
• Reading/Writing quirks – any fun habits or quirks (dog-earring pages, reading the last page first, etc.) you have as a reader or writer?
My quirks as a reader have become very limited since I read most of my books as ebooks (unless that counts as a quirk…) But I love to read before bed. And I love to read on my morning and evening commute. When I don’t read, I write on my commute. My phone is my notepad. I never read the last page first, but I do judge a book by its cover a lot. If I like the design, I’m going to give the book a try. And if I don’t get hooked within the first chapter, I usually give up. Sometimes though, I continue reading despite not being into it at all, and some books grow on me. I can never tell. It’s always a surprise when I start a new book.
• One question you wish you were asked in an interview and the answer you’d give.
A question I’m not asked very often is why I love writing, and why I chose to write books. It seems logical if I publish a book that I love writing, but it’s not always the case. I could write a book to prove myself something. I could publish one book, and never write again. So I love writing because it gives me freedom. It helps me exorcise my demons, and travel to universes I could never find on this earth and in this life. I love words because they’re like clay I can mold into anything I want. I’ve always loved writing, even if I find it very hard to write sometimes. My muse isn’t always cooperating. But I don’t give up. Being a writer is a lonely exercise but I wouldn’t express myself in any other way. It’s like breathing. I couldn’t live without it. Thank you for having me! I hope you enjoy 32 Seconds. Remember it’s free for download this week on Amazon.
Johanna K. Pitcairn has dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood--authoring her first novel at the age of nine, and countless poems, stories, and screenplays by the age of seventeen. Later, rather than pursuing a career as a director and screenwriter, she decided to go to law school, driven by her father's opinion that "writing does not pay the bills."
Ten years later, she moved to New York City, which inspired her to go back to the excitement, wonder, and constant change of being a writer. Pitcairn is a huge fan of psychological-thriller novels and movies, and delves into her hopes, fears, friends, enemies, and everything in between in her own writing.