TRP Q&A: An Interview with Johnnie Bernhard

Mackenzie Campbell interviews Texas Review Press author Johnnie Bernhard

A former teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard’s work has appeared in University of Michigan Graduate Studies PublicationsHeart of Ann Arbor MagazineHouston Style MagazineSouthern WritersMagazineThe Texas Review, and Southern Literary Review. She is the author of the novels A Good GirlHow We Came to Be, and Sisters of the Undertow.

How are you keeping yourself busy during social distancing?
Reading, gardening, writing, and cooking

What books are you reading now?
Redhead by the Side of the Road, by Anne Tyler.

Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally, or intellectually?
The sweet spot is emotional and intellectual books!

Which writers do you admire most, of those working today?
Jesmyn Ward is an extraordinarily talented author. Those punch-gut sentences she writes take my breathe away. She is painstakingly honest with the themes of present-day Mississippi.

When reading for pleasure, what do you read?
I try to support many of the authors and poets I know by buying their books. It is a pleasure to read their work!

Did you like to read as a child? Were there any childhood books and authors that were your favorites?
I loved the Nancy Drew series as a child. What a great role model! She was smart, in charge, and drove a sports car!

What’s your all-time favorite book?
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Genius!

Does anyone give you books as a gift? Do you have a favorite?
I love receiving books as gifts from friends and family. My favorites are books written by friends.  It’s a privilege to share that moment with an author. My children have given me many books over the years. Those are the ones I read over and over again, often thinking about how old my child was when I received the book.

What are some of your ‘comfort food’ books, the books you keep coming back to when you need encouragement or escape?
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez; Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez; Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver; and The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Mackenzie Campbell grew up in Kansas and north Texas. He is an MA candidate at Sam Houston State University. His research interests include 20th century American literature, women’s literature, and queer literature. He is currently the marketing assistant and publicist at Texas Review Press.

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