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Turning Autobiography into Fiction

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With Dewey Johnson, author of the coming-of-age novel Summer of Champions

From Summer of Champions:

“Greg had made me cry until third grade when Mom explained to me that he had been adopted from an orphanage in Albuquerque. I was to pay him no attention, but I found that hard to do. He could come up with scary things to think about! So scary that I imagined his real parents were Bonnie and Clyde, the bank robbers. When they were shot to death at the roadblock in Louisiana, their hoodlum baby Greg was in the backseat in a bulletproof crib. He was put up for adoption in New Mexico where no one knew what a public menace he would grow up to be.”


Experienced writers often counsel “Write what you know.” But it’s difficult to write about yourself or your own experience and weave a compelling story. It’s tempting to throw in too much, or to insist that because that’s the way it was, that’s the way the story should be. This week we visit with one author who, in his very first attempt, got it right and produced a riveting coming of age story.

Dewey Johnson was born in Lubbock, Texas, and grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. He is a pastor, standup comedian, and the creator of the High Desert Home Companion as well as the coming-of-age novel, Summer of Champions.

In this breezy and inspiring interview, Dewey discusses:

  • How he approaches turning autobiography into fiction
  • How he reveals his characters
  • Why some of his characters were easy to write, and some difficult
  • What his greatest writing challenges are
  • How he edits to achieve a clean, tight style
  • How his consumer book came to be published by a university press.

Interviewee: Dewey Johnson
Host: Paula B
Date: May 29, 2006
Running time: 54:42 minutes
File size: 43 megabytes
Rating: G
Dewey Johnson’s Web site: Summer of Champions

Purchase Dewey Johnson’s book at Barnes and Noble:

Summer of Champions
Summer of Champions

2 Responses to “Podcast: Turning Autobiography into Fiction”

  1. JTennant Says:

    This author has such a fresh voice that it’s a shame he waited so long to write his first novel. I especially enjoyed listening to his reading from his book, ‘Summer of Champions’, and when I went to to buy my own copy, I saw that it’s doing quite well in sales, deservedly so. Congratulations!

  2. Administrator Says:

    Wasn’t he great? Dewey’s just a natural writer and speaker. I can’t wait for the sequel!

    I’ll pass on your comment to him, J. Thanks so much for letting us know.

    Paula B.