Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Billie Johnson- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I welcome publisher Billie Johnson, owner of Oak Tree Press, to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
I believe the smartest, most clever people are the ones who laugh at my jokes….2) while I am a total workaholic, I DO have a long list of guilty pleasures I partake of regularly, and 3) I don’t suffer fools gladly…I find it really hard to be nice to stupid, ill-informed people. 

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A hard choice, since I love ‘em both…but I’ll say CAT, since Frida Kahlo, my darling girl, is probably reading this over my shoulder. 

3.  Tea or coffee? 

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
Boxers…although we really should talk to Jeana (OTP PR Manager) and see what it is that her man sports…I’ve had that view and ….wow! 

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
In junior high, I wrote, directed and was a performer in a short play for our school’s Talent Show. It was a homage to some I Love Lucy episodes, kind of a mish-mash of several of them. Yolanda (who once worked with me at OTP) was my good pal then and portrayed an actress in the Lucy-like part, and I played her director. Amazingly, the audience loved it and roared with laughter…and I was hooked!

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer? 
About half way through my first novel… 

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written? 
I had barely gotten started with writing fiction when I veered off and created OTP, so I can’t really say that I wrote something that makes me swell with pride. However, a few months ago, as I sorted through things to prepare for my move back to California, I came across the opening few pages of a novel. Reflexively, I started reading it and immediately thought, hey, this is good. It was funny, and well-set up to feature an engaging and quirky character. However, there was no author name on the pages. I was stumped for a moment before I realized this was the start of the novel I began just prior to launching OTP….amazing!

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
When I was 28, I faced a health crisis that scared the be-jeepers out of me. At a routine doctor’s appointment, I got sudden, unexpected and stunning news that there was a serious problem with my heart. Life took on a surreal quality as I schlepped from medical exams to tests to consultations, the upshot of which was that I had to decide between an invasive surgery and a health decline without a happy ending. Looking back, it always seems scarier that this process stretched on for several months…made me a total proponent of the ‘yank off the band-aid fast’ philosophy!

9.  How did you end up getting published?
Unless you count all the things I’ve published on behalf of Oak Tree Press, this thrill is still ahead of me. I never wanted to chance it that OTP would be considered a ‘straw man’ publisher, one set up to legitimize the principal’s self-publishing, so when I got the biz rolling, I back-burnered all my own writing. I often tell myself that when I know I must cease to run OTP, I will publish one of my manuscripts as the final title. We’ll see. 

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen? 
Hmmmm….I’ll have to ponder this.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
As a life-long proponent of the Schlitz philosophy (‘you only go ‘round once, so grab for all the gusto you can…’) I have taken many sharp turns in my life. Most recently, I decided to pack it all into a 17-foot U-haul truck and move back to California. However, to select just one most-daring-thing, I would choose the launch of OTP. I had no money, very little knowledge of the book business, no design skills, and mastery of only the most basic consumer-level computer stuff…all I had was this crazy idea that I could put it together as I went along. And amazingly, I did. Now we are in our fifteenth year. I have watched a lot of publishing houses, all sizes and abilities, start, stumble and fade away, and we are still here. We have attracted some detractors, and most of them have faded away too…and we are still here. I saw a one-man play years ago where the refrain was “When you come back, I’ll be here…” That works for me.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I’d rather be rich, since money often equates to power and influence in our culture, and I could probably lever that into fame, if fame was a goal. Also, I’d love the option of being wildly benevolent, and money could make that possible. And I could pitch a feature article on Holli and her novels to PEOPLE or THE NEW YORKER, and if they declined, I could just buy the mag and fire the guy who said ‘no’….now THAT’s entertainment!

Billie Johnson is the publisher at Oak Tree Press. An independent book publisher since 1998, OTP has 200+ titles, half mystery/crime fiction, some romance, westerns, paranormal, self help, how to and memoir. Also some children’s books, and travel books. 

LIKE us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/oaktreebooks 

Follow our blog at http://otpblog.blogspot.com/
We also manage BookBizBuzz, an email group for authors and other book fans at http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BookBizBuzz/conversations/topics  Lots of blab, few rules, BSP welcome.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful interview giving insight into a person who has done so much for writers. I look forward to working with her and connecting with you!

Anonymous said...

Now, that was fun. After spending nearly six days with Billie, traveling and attending a book fest, I could tell you even more about her. (he he)


Billie Johnson said...

Now Marilyn...you be nice!!

And Thonie...thanks!


Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

What a wonderful surprise to actually see Billie interviewed! It was lots of fun to hear her answers and get to know the personal side of our esteemed publisher a little bit better.

jrlindermuth said...

Love it. Good interview and nice to know a little more about our publisher, whose sense of humor shines through. Probably important for a publisher to have a good sense of humor, now that I think about it.

Holli said...

Thanks, Billie, for being such an interesting interview subject, and to everyone for commenting. It's not often we get to see into the mind of a publisher.

WS Gager said...

Boxers? Who knew! Great insight! Loved it!

Eileen Obser said...

I just turned on my computer to find your publisher and mine, Billie! Hollie, this is my first introduction to you, via your bio, and a wonderful new view of Billie, her background, and her sense of humor. Thanks for a fun post. You made my day.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Love it that there are now 200+ books you've published, Billie. That's quite an accomplishment!

Mary Montague Sikes

Billie Johnson said...

Thanks for checking in, everyone. This was quite fun to do!


Marti Colvin said...

Great interview Billie, and interesting questions Holli. I think the "cat" answer was a wise one, after all, the dog will forgive you. Cats not so much.

Lesley Diehl said...

Yeah, I love boxers too. I think you were very self-sacrificing to put your novel to one side and publish ours. The OTP authors are grateful and hope one day you will get your chance too.

marja said...

Fun interview! I hope one day you'll write the book you started. Anything light, and it sounds like it is, is on my "favorites" list. You do a great job with Oak Tree and it feels like a family sometimes. Good job!
Marja McGraw