Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, 50, is having her first book My Monticello is being adapted by Netflix.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, she has always had literary aspirations but they have shifted throughout the years. “I always knew that I was interested in visual art and writing since I was a kid and I knew that I would do that, but the idea of what or how it would look like in the world changed over time,” she said.
“It went from just wanting to get something in a literary magazine in my high school and going to the young writer’s workshop in Charlottesville when I was a teenager, to later in life starting a blog before blogs were cool, and then, finally, wanting to publish a book.”
The Kirkus Prize finalist and public school teacher shared the inspiration behind the popular titular story of her collection, where a group of Charlottesville survivors escapes the clutches of a White nationalist insurrection by heading to Monticello. “That story was definitely my reaction to Aug. 12 here in Charlottesville,” she said. It was thoroughly researched.
“I wrote the beginning and the end, with a short middle, just to get through my experiences in that time after August 2017. Slowly I realized that it definitely needed more of a middle. That I needed to understand Monticello and the history a little better. I wanted to feel grounded in place and what would be reasonable considering it’s a survival story.”
She shared that it can be a bit taxing to become a book world darling overnight. “Luckily, some of things, like the Netflix thing, I already had some time to get my mind around it, but the reception and the buzz around the book has been great. It’s also been a little overwhelming,” she admitted.