About Paige

I grew up in Evergreen, Colorado and moved to Virginia at sixteen. The Colorado Rockies are an amazing place to grow up; turquoise skies and jagged mountain peaks loomed outside my classroom window. There were often elk at my bus stop. The little town of Evergreen held a summer festival, the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra played by the lake on the Fourth of July, and the Kiwanis Club sold Christmas trees at the Hardware store in December. My pediatrician was my best friend’s dad, and I could walk–through a meadow full of wildflowers–to the movie theater, where movies were always three dollars.

Paige Duncan JohnsonNow I live in Alexandria, Virginia, with my husband and four children. It is a nice place to grow up in a different way: when we are bored and need an outing, we go to the American History Museum, or the Museum of Natural History. Every day on the way to school, the Potomac River is beside us, sparkling in the sun, and in the summer, we have taken a picnic dinner to eat on the steps of the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorial. The traffic is terrible and I have lost track of what going to the movies costs, but on the whole, we are happy here.

I have wanted to be a writer since second grade, and I have published a little here and there. I have been raising amazing children and singing on the side, so writing had taken a back seat, but it is time for me to focus on it. To get published, if I can. My hope is that this site is a way to show people who I am.

When I was thirteen, I read a book by Madeleine L’Engle called Ilsa. Most people think of A Wrinkle in Time when they think of Madeleine L’Engle, if they think of her at all, but she wrote many other things. Ilsa grabbed at my heart and my brain and shook them around a bit, and I have never forgotten it. It was all light and beauty; beautiful, complicated prose about a beautiful, complicated heroine named Ilsa. I read it twice, back to back, the way kids now read HarryPotter/PercyJackson/Twilight/The Hunger Games. But it wasn’t because of the plot; nobody had superpowers and nobody was in love with their competitor in a televised war game that ends in death. I loved Ilsa because the writing and the characters made me feel more than I felt at home or at school. The words on the page made me feel like I’d taken a giant breath of autumn air, laced with joy and melancholy, highs and lows. Like I’d won a lottery, like my dog died, like I’d been loved and betrayed and loved again. I wasn’t bi-polar, I was thirteen.

There are books in my life, our lives, that (I really don’t want to phrase it this way but) touch us, and I am grateful to them all. I won’t say they were books that I couldn’t put down; it was more like they were books I had to put down sometimes, just to reflect. To breathe. Books that made my heart ache with feeling. Books that swept me up in the story and the words so much that colors took on a deeper hue, smells became more potent, and I read through meals, forgetting to eat unless made to. Books that made me want to be a writer.  Ilsa was one of the first. Then there was The Small Rain, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Giant, The Thorn Birds, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird and My Antonia. Then it didn’t happen for a long time. That magic seemed to be gone. Everything I read was dull, or had an agenda, or was what I then called “Cheerleader Fiction.” (To all the cheerleaders who read Hemingway and Melville, I’m sorry.) I grew up, and started finding that magic again sometimes, by accident, when I stumble across someone who writes with poignant accuracy, or whose characters seem more real than most of the people I know. I won’t name them here, but they do exist, and I still get swept up, forgetting to eat. I wish it would happen more often. I’d be thinner.

Well. I’m not Madeleine L’Engle. I’m no Thomas Hardy, no Edna Ferber or Colleen McCullough, no Betty Smith or Harper Lee and certainly no Willa Cather. But I can dream. I can play with words on a page and try to capture moments and feelings and contain them for the reader, for a moment, in a sentence, a paragraph. If I feel I put it down with accuracy and beauty, and if somebody–even just one person–reads it and thinks oh, I have known exactly that feeling, then I will be happy. I’ll have captured a little, imperfect but beautiful picture of humanity and framed it, and said Here: look. 

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