The Time Before The Time To Come By Jill Johnson – BOOK LAUNCH

On a July evening, in a space full of books and literary history, the sound of Māori singing filled the British Library at the start of Jill Johnson’s book launch for her debut novel The Time Before The Time To Come, published by OWN IT!, in an event sponsored by ALCS.

An evening of Māori song and dance with poetry is not your typical book launch, but then very little about this debut novel is typical. Somewhere between history, politics, magical realism and literary fiction lies the story of a Māori family spanning six generations. Readers are transported from and between different times, places and identities, simultaneously learning about Māori culture whilst being taken on a roller coaster of emotions from heartbreak to hope. From the personal struggle of a divorced mum of three battling with alcoholism, to the political nature of colonialism and suppression of the Māori people, The Time Before The Time To Come positively broadens the literary landscape.

For too long ‘emerging’ talent has been interpreted as ‘young’ talent.

There’s little that’s typical about the book’s author Jill Johnson either. With three children, five businesses and two degrees, it’s only now at the age of 51, that Jill has found the time to concentrate fully on being an author and having her first book published. For too long ‘emerging’ talent has been interpreted as ‘young’ talent. However, Jill’s book launch was an uncompromising celebration of the mature female voice, along with voices from cultures and people who are often completely absent in the literary landscape. And of brilliant writing and storytelling too, proving that if you’re talented and dedicated enough, it’s never too late to start a career as an author.

The launch started with a traditional Māori blessing and welcome song by the Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club, followed by words and poetry by fellow OWN IT! author JJ Bola (No Place To Call Home). Jill Johnson then read the first chapter of her novel, followed by a Q&A session led by Chantelle Lewis. Finally the Ngāti Rānana Club raised the roof with heart vibrating acoustic songs, traditional dance and perhaps the thing Māori culture is most known for, the Haka which was led by the majority female crew.

Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Director of OWN IT! said: “We’re so proud to be publishing Jill Johnson’s The Time Before The Time To Come and bringing such an original, captivating and important piece of storytelling into the literary fold and to the world. We would like to thank ALCS for being our official launch event sponsor and continuing to support emerging, diverse and talented voices to be writers and authors.”

OWN IT! is an independent publishing house, self-styled as a ‘storytelling lifestyle brand’, working across books, music, fashion and film. It aims to empower and celebrate writers who are often overlooked by the literary mainstream, and inspire the communities it represents.

In 2016, OWN IT! was responsible for publishing Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man. Travis was reported to have been the only black male debut novelist published in that year in the UK. ALCS was delighted to help sponsor Travis’s book launch at Hackney Empire in East London which was attended by more than 1,000 people

See more about the work of OWN IT! 

ALCS: our work in the writing community

We are always looking at ways to support organisations and charities connected with the writing community, as well as supporting writers directly, both at home and abroad. The scope of this work can cover research, pro-copyright work, literacy programmes and teaching resources, writing awards, literary record keeping, and supporting equality within the writing community.