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Do you know what makes me happy?

The feeling of the sun on the back of my neck, lazy Sunday afternoon barbeques and the laughter of my children.

And a really good book.

All of that and more is achieved in Deborah Johnson’s The Secret of Magic. 

Her phrasing is impeccable and her characters are so well developed you would be hard pressed to prove they aren’t real.

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.

In the below video, I talk to Deborah about the troubling duality of the Jim Crow Era South, the most courageous character (of which there are many) and her writing process.

Deborah Johnson is the author of The Air Between Us, which received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction. She now lives in Columbus, Mississippi, and is working on her next novel.

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Nikki Woods Chats with Author Deborah Johnson About ‘The Secret of Magic’  was originally published on