Demi: As a successful author with 30 books to your name, or rather names, can you tell us how you first chose to write under a pseudonym.
Laurie: A book packager asked me to write the 4-book WANTED series, young adult novels set in the Wild West. They chose my pen name, Erin Johnson, which made me happy. Johnson was my grandmother’s maiden name, so I felt as if the name fit well. The book packager requested the pseudonym in case the series took off and they’d need to have multiple writers like the Nancy Drew series does. Books 1 and 2 are out now – Grace and the Guiltless and Her Cold Revenge. For a while, it looked as if the book packager’s expectations would come true when a movie production company expressed interest in the first two books in the series, but that didn’t come to fruition. One can always hope, though, that it catches another producer’s eye in the future.
Demi: How did the second pen-name come about?
Laurie: I chose Rachel J. Good for the pen name for my Amish novels to keep them separate from the writing I did under my own name, which was mostly for children and teens. I wanted a first name that was popular among the Amish, and Good is a common name in Lancaster County. I had another reason for choosing the last name Good. One of my critique partners was a talented writer who died much too young, so “J. Good” was to honor her and the influence she had on my writing. So far, the first book written under that pen name, Change of Heart, is out along with the Amish Quilts Coloring Book. The second book in the Sisters and Friends Amish series, Buried Secrets, will be out in March. Gift from Above should be out in the fall of 2017. I also have an inspirational novella and an Amish anthology story coming out in the spring.
Demi: And of course, you write under your own name as well. What does that work entail?
Laurie: Under my own name, I write mainly nonfiction books, many of them for the educational market. Some of the books I’ve written as Laurie J. Edwards include a biography of Rihanna, Pirates Through the Ages, the 5-vol. Native American Tribes, Imperial China, West African Kingdoms, and Ancient Egypt. Most of these books are for middle schoolers.
For younger readers, I have a picture book coming out in November, Mystery of the Missing Parathas. And for elementary students, I’m writing Exploring Ancient Rome, which will be out in late 2017. I’ve also written more than 2200 articles for magazines, such as Highlights for Children, and for educational publishers, many of them for this age group.
I also have a book I cowrote with expert Alexis Moore called Cyber Self Defense, an easy-to-read book about staying safe from cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and other online crimes. And I’ve contributed to several anthologies including Summer Lovin’, Community of Writers, Love & Profanity, and Summer Magic.
Demi: Do you maintain one “umbrella” website and social media account for all your aliases, or individual ones?
Laurie: I actually have various social media accounts, which means I need to maintain all of them. On my Laurie J. Edwards blog, I have tabs for all of the pen names and I mention them on my website, but I also have Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads accounts in my own name. For Rachel J. Good, I have a separate website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and a Pinterest page. I’m on Wattpad as Erin Johnson, which is where a lot of my teen audience is, and I’ve been lucky enough to have more than 200, 000 reads on there. I really enjoy reading the teen’s comments.
So do you think I spend a lot of time online?
Demi: While you’re busy corralling multiple personalities, what other writing jobs do you balance?
Laurie: I also edit for several publishers and individual clients, and I’m working on my thesis for Hollins University’s MFA in Children’s Writing and Illustrating. In my spare time, I illustrate picture books. I just finished the illustrations for The Forget-Me-Not Keeper by Susanna Leonard Hill, and I’m working on several other picture books. The Teeny Tiny Woman, a picture book I illustrated last year, was picked up by RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) for their Billion EBook Gift Program, and they distributed 250 million copies. I’m hoping to have time to do more illustration work in the future.