‘My Monticello’ author speaks at Virginia Festival of the Book event

Jocelyn Johnson, author of 'My Monticello'
Jocelyn Johnson, author of 'My Monticello'(WVIR)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 9:44 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville author who has gained some national praise for her novella was met with a packed house for a conversation at the Jefferson School on Friday.

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s ‘My Monticello’ is a work of fiction, but she wrote it a year after the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville, and there’s a lot that can be learned from the literature.

“Jefferson wrote ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’ but Jocelyn Johnson has written ‘Notes on the Fate of Virginia,’” said Lisa Woolfork, the moderator of the event.

A capacity audience watched Johnson and Woolfork discuss the book, from the writing process to the author’s self-learned message.

“I was trying to project that into the future and think about it as a personal question,” said Johnson. “What do we do at this moment? How should we respond? What does it mean? What will happen if these things aren’t addressed?”

The book of short stories is set in a future Charlottesville, where white supremacists force a group of people in the city, including a fictional descendent of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, to flee to Monticello.

“Look at where we are,” Johnson said. “Let’s look at this as a means to maybe do something different or to address it different. If we can see it through the story, if we can project into the future, then we have an opportunity to make different choices.”

Now, Johnson’s debut book is set to be adapted on Netflix, which has some support from her family.

“My teenager thinks that’s cool and that’s amazing because teenagers don’t think anything’s cool,” she said with a smile.

Johnson said a fun element of writing the book was being able to write about the city where she taught art for two decades at Jackson-Via Elementary School.

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