Author Sarah Johnson has her First Book Span Multiple Genres
Writer / Matt Keating
Sarah Johnson, author of “The Devil Inside Me: Finding Jesus in a Life of Struggle,” says her new book crosses many genres.
“It’s a memoir, a spiritual growth and self-help book, and a medical mystery,” she says. “During my freshman year of college at Ball State, I began having bizarre symptoms after eating. At first it felt much like I was coming down with the flu. Within 20 minutes of eating a meal, I experienced waves of nausea, clamminess, and an immediate need to rest, often leaving me incapacitated.”
After a couple of hours, her symptoms would vanish.
“Over time my symptoms got worse, and I developed intense pain just below my breastbone,” she says. “The symptoms became both longer in duration and more frequent, forcing me to seek medical attention. I began to fear eating, and as a result my weight started to plummet, as did my energy, nutrition and overall health.”
It took 23 years for Johnson to be diagnosed with superior mesenteric artery syndrome (SMAS). Johnson says it’s a condition in which an abnormal artery angle causes compression of the duodenum.
“It was discovered using a CT scan with contrast, done by a vascular surgeon,” Johnson says. “Essentially, eating certain foods was like trying to get a watermelon through a straw. My body couldn’t process food beyond that problem area the way most people can, and it caused my body to react in a strong way.”
Johnson stresses that 23 years is a long time to go through something like that.
“It changes you,” she says. “There were many times that I felt alone and desperate for answers to some hard questions. Those dark moments led me to remembering things that my family had taught me as a child, about Jesus and about the Bible. I found that spending time reading scripture helped me mentally and emotionally.”
There were passages she found that made her feel more relaxed and reassured.
“As I continued my quest for healing, I developed a strong relationship with God,” Johnson says. “This is why I wrote a Christian book. I wanted to give people the chance to grow their faith, even as small as a mustard seed, from Matthew 17:20. Jesus calls us to be disciples. My life-altering experience has created in me a desire to share the love of Christ with anyone willing to listen, or in this case, to read.”
Johnson says this is her first book. It’s currently available through Amazon in paperback and as an e-book.
“After my life-saving surgery, I knew that I wanted to help others through my experience,” she says. “I read a lot, and ultimately I wanted to write the very book that I wish I’d been able to find when I was really struggling. There are so many people in the world facing all kinds of tough circumstances. I wanted to be a source of hope for anyone that might find my story inspirational.”
When Johnson was preparing to graduate from high school, she wanted to be a police officer.
“We took a profile test our senior year that indicated I would do well in that profession,” she says. “I told my grandfather those plans, and he sternly but lovingly told me that I had ‘no business doing that,’ and that I’d ‘get hurt out there.’ He pointed to the television and said I’d make a good news anchor, and so I went to Ball State and majored in telecommunications.”
Johnson took an internship at Fox 59, and then worked at Fox Sports 1260 for a short time after graduation.
“I left radio and television to try working in homebuilding, and absolutely loved it,” she says. “I was working at CP Morgan in 2008 when the economy tanked. CP Morgan closed their business, and I left their company as accounts payable manager. That career path was never planned, but it’s just kind of where I ended up, and I’ve been in that line of work ever since. I’ve been with an engineering firm for the last 10 years and I enjoy that. While I always seemed to get my best grades in English growing up, I never imagined I’d write a book.”
Johnson has had thoughts of writing another book, but has that on the back burner for now.
“This first book was a big undertaking, so I’m enjoying celebrating that accomplishment and enjoying the marketing side of things,” she says. “It was and still is a priority for me to spread the message that this book contains, so that remains my focus.”
Johnson’s family history in Boone County goes back to the early 1800s.
“I delivered the sermon at my family’s church, Salem United Methodist Church, in Zionsville on March 13, 2022,” she says. “My message, ‘Why Me, Why Now, Why This?’ was crafted to correlate with my book’s content. I spoke about fear and what to do when it strikes. I also talked about trusting him and having faith, along with the importance of telling others about the love Jesus has for us. ‘Knock and the door will be opened to you,’ from Matthew 7:7-8.’”
Johnson has some upcoming events that readers might be interested in.
“Books & Brews will be hosting my book-signing event on June 29, 2022, from 5 to 8 p.m., at 3808 Shelby Street in Indianapolis,” she says. “I will be at the Henry Henley Public Library in Carthage, Indiana, on May 10, 2022, to give a talk for their Book Club at 6:30 p.m., and signing books afterwards.”
Johnson will also be doing a signing in Upland, Indiana, on April 30, 2022, at Barton Rees Pogue Memorial Library at 10 a.m. She will be a part of Authors Alley in Elwood, Indiana, on May 21, 2022, signing during their annual Home, Health & Garden Show.
“That event is hosted by the Elwood Chamber of Commerce, and will be outdoors in front of the Elwood City Building,” Johnson says. “This fall I will be signing books at the Read to Lead/Write to Enlight Book Festival in Westerville, Ohio.”