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Fort-born author publishes book

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While most mainstream science fiction movies and books typically are geared towards a male audience, a Fort Frances-born author has been working to create more queer female representation in the genre.

Late last month, 26-year-old Laurel Johanson had her 115-page book, “All Things Mortal,” published by McNally Robertson Book Sellers in Winnipeg.

She best describes the book as a lesbian space opera novella.

“It's about two women, one a death goddess, the other a runaway princess, and they journey across the universe together to try and defeat an evil overlord,” Johanson explained.

She told the Times she always has been a huge fan of science fiction/fantasy and felt there was a lack of LGBTQ representation within the genre.

“I thought when I was growing up what kind of stories would I have needed . . . as a queer kid, especially in a smaller town like Fort Frances, which is where I spent the first seven years of my life,” Johanson said.

“So I thought I would try to write the kind of story that maybe my younger self would have needed at the time growing up.”

Her focus is on making people in the LGBTQ community feel seen or heard through her novella.

“I felt like there was a gap I could definitely try to fill at least, or try to contribute . . . to provide more representation,” Johanson noted.

It's been a gratifying experience for her to see “All Things Mortal” published and she has received a great response from those who have picked it up.

“It was actually super-rewarding, even at the launch, having people come and ask for a signed copy, I was overwhelmed,” she enthused.

“I'm not use to that kind of attention," she noted. "I'm more of a reserved, kind of quiet person so it was awesome to see.”

Johanson said because the book is only 115 pages long, many people read it within a day or two of its release and told her how much they enjoyed reading it.

“It was super-cool to be able to talk about the characters with them and the story,” she remarked.

The opportunity to write the book was made possible through Red River College, where she currently is studying communications.

Johanson was tasked with creating an independent professional project and thought writing a book would be the perfect fit.

“I decided to write a book because I thought . . . this might be the only time in my life where I get to write one,” she reasoned.

Writing always has been a passion of Johanson's, especially in her earlier years, but it tapered off. Now it is something she returned to in her adult life.

“It's something I had to find my [way] back to, I would say, but it's something that now—especially after this project—I'm not going to give up anytime soon,” she stressed.

“I'd love to just be able to write full-time," she added. "That's kind of the dream that I would aspire to right now.”

Johanson will be graduating in June with hopes of pursuing a career in communications.

In the meantime, she is encouraging people to check the book out, which can be ordered as paperback on McNally Robinson's website or purchased as an eBook on Amazon and Kobo.

“Give it a shot," Johanson urged. ”Even if it doesn't sound like your thing, I tried to incorporate something for everyone.

“That might sound cliché but I did draw from a number of different sources," she noted. "And even if the queer thing isn't your thing, there's so much more to the story than just that and it shouldn't deter anyone, I would hope.”

“All Things Mortal” is the first in a series and Johanson is hoping to write a sequel this summer.

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