County social worker writes first novelBased on the fact that both she and her book’s character are social workers, it may seem that Kristin Johnson’s new novel mirrors her own life.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Based on the fact that both she and her book’s character are social workers, it may seem that Kristin Johnson’s new novel mirrors her own life. But the Red Wing resident stressed that is definitely not the case.
“This main character is not me,” she said. “It’s fiction.”
For 18 years, Johnson has been a Goodhue County social worker, a job that “is appropriately protected by data privacy,” she explained.
While she admits some days on the job are nothing to write home about, others can get pretty interesting.
“Sometimes at work we say, ‘Somebody should write a book,’” Johnson joked.
Of course, they can’t write a book about what actually happens, so Johnson decided she would combine her general knowledge of social work with her imagination and write a work of fiction that still chronicles the life of someone in that career.
“Part of what I wanted to do is give a little bit of a picture of what it is like,” she said, adding that many people don’t understand what the job description entails.
Johnson’s novel, “unprotected,” paints a picture for readers by following a young social worker, Amanda, in the start of her career while focusing primarily on one particular child protection case. The 23-year-old works hard to settle matters of abuse and keep a local family together.
“This is a character who doesn’t have much context for that,” Johnson said, explaining that the protagonist grew up without a family to care for her.
Again, the author noted, the book is not a reflection on her life. In fact, Johnson was raised by both of her parents and has two siblings. Her sister — who is just a couple years younger than she is — writes for a living and helped edit “unprotected” since Johnson admits she doesn’t consider herself a professional when it comes to the craft.
“I think more like a social worker than a writer,” Johnson said. “I was writing it a little too much like a social work case novel.”
Still, “unprotected” caught the attention of North Star Press of St. Cloud, which published the book Sept. 1. Before the novel was ready for print, however, Johnson said she was asked to come up with a photo for its cover.
The author left the photography up to her husband, Gary, who decided to take a picture of the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Abby, in Memorial Park.
Enlisting the help of her family members was a fitting way to wrap up work on Johnson’s first piece of published writing, which consistently brings up the theme of family in its storyline.
Abby even got to read “unprotected,” although Johnson warns that it does feature frequent adult language. Ultimately, however, she said the book is good for a variety of people.
“To me, it’s a book club book. It’s pretty wide range.”
If you go…
What: “unprotected” book signing by Red Wing author Kristin Johnson
Where: Loons and Ladyslippers, 1920 Old West Main St., Red Wing
When: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday Oct. 13
More info: 651-388-3562