We had the good fortune of connecting with Margaret Johnson-Hodge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Margaret, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It came from a moment where I realized my own ‘worth’ and the company I was negotiating a new contract with didn’t. I felt that to accept the offer they were extending would be just giving my next novel away and decided that, if I were going to ‘give it away,’ I might as well give it away to myself
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a National Bestselling Author and Writing Instructor with 23 published works. I’ve been published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Publishing, Warner Books, Simon and Schuster, as well as my own publishing.
Because I’ve had book contracts with mainstream publishers and have self-published, the guidance I give to my writing students is immeasurable as well as helped me to create my own works under my name. Knowing the ins and outs, pros and cons of both sides gives me a great advantage in not only my career but in the writers I help.
I’ve reach National Bestselling Author status numerous times, had my novels considered for movies by Showtime and Hallmark, was asked by Harvard University to submit a short story, had my novels used as part of the English Course curriculum at University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and was also ‘guest author’ there. One of my novels was the ‘launch’ for a mainstream publishing imprint and I’ve made the Essence Magazine Bestseller’s List as well as others. My works have been highlighted by Essence and Ebony Magazine as well as USA Today and the Dallas Morning Star. I’ve received raved reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Midwest Book Review, Quarterly Black Review and fellow authors. I’m extremely pleased with what I have accomplished.
There was nothing easy about becoming who I am today. It was filled with self-doubt and too many naysayers to count. I walked away from Mainstream Publishing contracts and took the plunge in creating my own works under my own tutelage. I also lost my husband unexpectantly to an aneurysm along the way. But I know God has guided my steps and I’ve embraced envisioning more for my life than what my eyes can see, blessed to have had people—my mother (R.I.P), my husband (R.I.P.) my writing mentor Brenda Connor-Bey Miller (R.I.P.) and a good friend, Vanessa Benton to push me when I needed to be pushed.
What I’ve learned is to trust yourself in your goals. Nothing is ever the way you would like it to be but if you learn to make do with what you have, the rest will follow. You may not succeed the first time around, but keep trying. Have faith in your dreams and yourself. Believe.
My ‘brand’ is twofold: writing authentic, realistic stories about that place I was born–Queens, New York– in a way no one ever has and inspiring the next group of writers. My mentor always pressed upon me to ‘reach back’ when I got successful and I had taken her instruction to do so every chance I get.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’d start at a wonder restaurant I really enjoyed called “Fish Thyme,” spending the evening dining on great food and playing catch up with our lives. The next day we’d take a trip to Atlanta to see the sights–the CNN Building, The World of Coca Cola and then head to Atlanta Station for something good to eat. We’d end the evening near a mountain range to drink in a magnificent sunset and come back to my home for wine, laughter and ‘remember when’s.’
Depending what was playing at the Fox Theater we might go and see a show the next evening. The next day it would be a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and definitely a trip to the Municipal Market on Edgewood Avenue for some of “Miss D’s Pralines” Famous Popcorn! The best popcorn ever!
The final day would be spent in the Northwest Mountains with a picnic lunch and on the lookout for deer, feeling the sun playing hide and seek between the branches of the tall pines and the crunch of fallen leaves beneath our feet…
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to ‘Shoutout’ two people: My mother, Alma H. Johnson (may she rest in peace) and my husband Terence A. Hodge (may he rest in peace.) When I was a child, someone prophesized to mother that I would become a great writer. Though she never shared that until long after I’d become established, she always supported my goal, heralding my successes, telling anyone who would listen that “her daughter was a NY Times Bestselling Writer” (I’m not yet) and gave me start-up money to self-publish though she was on an extremely-fixed income.
My husband gave me the ‘springboard’ to truly set my dream in motion. He told me, without me even asking, that I could quit my nine-to-five and dedicate myself to writing and raising our children. Though I didn’t have a literary agent, a book contract, nothing but a dream, he believed in and loved me enough to give me the space to hone my craft. Three years later, I got my first major book publishing deal!