Local author shines a light on Middle East

EDMONDS — Retired surgeon Dr. Lloyd Johnson prepared for years before writing his adventure novels based on events in the Middle East.

He spent months in Palestine and Israel, talking to people and recording their stories.

In 2013, “Living Stones,” the first in his action trilogy, was published by Koehler Books. The book is available in bookstores and online, and soon will be available to borrow at Sno-Isle Libraries.

The sequel, “Cry of Hope” comes out as an e-book later this month and in paperback in mid-January. The third book probably will be published in 2016, Johnson said.

An emeritus clinical professor of surgery at the University of Washington, Johnson, 83, has written many articles for scientific journals.

The trilogy is his first foray into fiction. Johnson, bolstered by his membership in a local writer’s group and encouraged by his wife Marianne, set out to write a series of books that would illuminate what’s happening in the Middle East.

“The series springs from our interest in Israel and Palestine and our visits there,” Johnson said. “While there are many excellent non-fiction books about the area, there is very little for American fiction-loving readers. So it is a fiction adventure story, based on reality, of a young woman from the University of Washington. But in the process the reader learns about what is going on.”

Ashley, the UW student, visits the Middle East, where she begins to question her pro-Israeli convictions. She visits the beautiful rock churches and shrines of the Holy Land. But she takes a closer look at the living stones — the people. Ashley meets Jews and Palestinians; rabbis for and against Israeli occupation and settlement expansion; Christian Palestinians such as her boyfriend Najid’s family; those in the West Bank suffering under military occupation; Muslims and Christians living peacefully together.

The story involves a terrorist bombing and Ashley’s journey to see, first hand, life in Israel and Palestine.

The character’s journey is similar to the one taken by Johnson.

“It was shocking to see what was really going on there,” he said. “We met people whose homes were demolished for no reason, people killed for no reason. They begged us to tell their stories.”

The second book, “Cry of Hope,” involves chance meetings between wounded Israeli soldiers and wounded Palestinians and asks the question, Can there ever be reconciliation?

“Peace is conditional if it’s not based on justice,” Johnson said. “Peace in the Middle East is an issue that’s not going away.”

Book calendar

Mindy Hardwick: The children’s book author will teach “Writing the Picture Book” on two Wednesdays in January at the Schack Art Center. The class is 1 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 14 and 21. It is designed for people who want to learn how to write their own picture book stories for children. The class focuses on writing the story, but illustrators are welcome to attend. Details for registration are at www.schack.org/classes/writing-the-picture-book. More about Hardwick is at www.mindyhardwick.com.

Helen Wand: The author of “Where Eagles Nest” will sign books from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Snohomish Grow Washington Store, 1204 First St., Snohomish. The book is the heartwarming story of Wand’s family and their journey to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s.

Christine Pattillo: “I Am We,” is Pattillo’s story of living with multiple personalities. It wasn’t until she was 41 and after a decade of counseling that Pattillo was finally able to say, “There is more than one of me.” She will sign books from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Everett Grow Washington Store, 3013 Colby Ave., Everett, and from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Snohomish Grow Washington Store, 1204 First St.

Patrick Jennings: The author of the children’s book series about “Guinea Dog” will read and sign books at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 at Barnes &Noble, 19401 Alderwood Mall Parkway, Lynnwood.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @galefiege.

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