• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Stephanie Johnson talks about Everything Changes


'Everything Changes' by Stephanie Johnson is shortlisted for the NZ Booklovers Fiction Award 2022. Stephanie talks to NZ Booklovers about her latest novel.


Tell us a little about Everything Changes.

‘Everything Changes’ is a humorous novel about a couple who opt for a big change in late middle-age. Col and Davie leave their lives in Auckland to run a retreat in a delapidated motel in Northland at the top of the Brynderwyn Hills. Accompanying them are their pregnant daughter Liv and mut Muzza. Just about everything that could to wrong, does.


What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a novel about how we are in New Zealand now. I wrote it just before Covid hit, but a lot of things haven’t changed. I’m interested in the craving for change, in the sense of entitlement in adult children, in post-feminist sensibilities, how fatherhood has changed in the early-mid 21st century, the rehabilitation of young felons, the epidemic of anxiety, the soothing cure of reading and the notion of retreat in all its different hues.

What research was involved?

Unlike most of my novels, this one required little or no research. I know the North well and the characters were very familiar to me.


What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I still write my hand, which astonishes some people. I type up and redraft as I go – I’m a fast typist, having worked as a secretary in my youth. But I prefer to write longhand, either in exercise books or on the backs of printouts.


If a soundtrack was made to this book, name a song or two you would include.

Marlon Williams’ song ‘What’s Chasing You’ is mentioned in the text. I think it’s very apposite. Skyscraper Stan’s song ‘I Fell Over’ would also be worth including.


If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Donogh Rees as Col, Joel Tobeck as Davie, Thomasin McKenzie as Liv, Fesuiai Viliamu as Choirmaster. I have no idea who could play Muzza, but he’d have to be big, yellow and ugly.


What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

Laughing.


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

‘She’s a Killer’ by Kirsten McDougall. Multi-layered, complex, disturbing, and very funny in places. McDougall succeeds in making a fairly unlikeable central character likeable, and her evocation of a slightly futuristic New Zealand is distopic, powerful and angry.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

I have a new novel ‘Kind’ scheduled for publication with Penguin Random House in April 2023. The story begins during the first lockdown in 2020 and ends in 2023. It’s a sort of thriller set mostly in the Southern Alps and Russell in the Far North.


Penguin Random House