A perfect Sunday with...E.K. Johnston

How to make any meal brunch, balls-to-the-wall fantasy and messed up Dragon Age fanfic.

A perfect Sunday with...E.K. Johnston

Every week, a top writer, artist or creator reveals how they’d fill their perfect Sunday, sharing their favourite comfort reads, movies, food… anything that would make their weekend great.

Today it’s the turn of Pretty Furious author, E.K. Johnston.

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… brunch

I had a whole instinctive reaction about pancakes, but then I realized there is one extremely key component in my perfect Sunday Brunch, and that is: not washing the dishes. Especially the bacon pan. So, keeping that in mind, my perfect brunch is two sunnyside up eggs with buttered rye toast, a side of bacon, square cut hashbrowns, cold orange juice and hot coffee. Oh, and a slice of melon, because I read somewhere once that any meal can be brunch if you eat it at the right time and include a slice of melon. (Note: I just looked it up and it's from The Simpsons, so now my mother can never read this, which is still better than if it was Friends, at least.) ANYWAY, there's a bit of wiggle room in the eggs (I'll take over easy up to juuuuuust shy of over hard), and if the whole thing comes in an English muffin with melted cheese, that's also acceptable.

One time in California I got a pile of lettuce instead of the toast and was extremely perplexed, but the main part is not having to wash the dishes. 

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… read

Usually on Sundays, I want to be cosy, and that means The Hobbit or a nice low-stakes regency romance. Mary Balogh is a particular favourite of mine, especially her Survivors' Club series which is equal parts funny and moving across all seven books. What both of these have in common in the formula. With The Hobbit, it's right there in the second half of the title--There and Back Again--and with romance novels, it's knowing that no matter how anxious it gets, there will be a happily ever after, good things will happen to good people, and the bad guy will probably get punched in the neck. Or at least be publicly humiliated and stuck in a bad marriage. On the Sundays when I wish to feel things, I opt for Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. Arguably the best book ever written (and the only book I have ever started reading again IMMEDIATELY upon finishing it), Code Name Verity can be relied upon to make me cry, faster than you can say "Kiss me Hardy, kiss me quick." 

(I'm lying, obviously. The real answer is: the most messed up Dragon Age fanfic I can find on AO3.) 

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… comic

I didn't start reading comics until well into high school (wait no: that's a lie because I definitely read a lot of Archie), so I don't really have anything particularly formative. One of the first comics I ever read was J. Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars, and it remains one of my favourite deconstructions of the superhero story. If I'm allowed to extend the question to graphic novels, then it's definitely Squire, by Nadia Shamas and Sara Alfageeh. I grew up on Tamora Pierce and the "not like other girls" fantasy of the early 90s, and I am thrilled to see the genre grow to be a better reflection of the world at large and feminism in general (including Tamora Pierce herself! Oh, to have a 40-year career!).

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… movie

I have a wide range of movies for this answer, and I just spent like 10 minutes staring out the window trying to pick one. There was a really fun swashbuckling era of the late 90s/early 2000s, including films like The Mask of ZorroA Knight's Tale, and the first Pirates movie, and there was an extremely balls-to-the-wall era of 80s fantasy movies that gave us LadyhawkThe Princess Bride, and the original Willow (*pours one out for TV Willow, I will die mad about it*). Sandwiched in between all that, in 1993, we have Disney's Three Musketeers. The cast of this movie sounds like some sort of clown car joke, and the title song "All For Love" is a combined effort from Rod Stewart, Sting, and Bryan Adams. Where a few years before Prince of Thieves had gone for seriousness, Three Musketeers was not afraid to have fun. Most important, though, were the characters of Anne and Constance. There are, obviously, a lot of dudes in this movie, but the three female characters are remarkably well-developed. And super important to the plot! With agency and everything. It's completely ridiculous, and I love every glorious moment.

(The reason it's NOT Lord of the Rings, by the way, is that I don't always have 12 hours.)

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… TV binge

I'm already thinking about Willow, but the truth is that that show was taken from us before I could really decide where it's going to stand in my personal library. (I know where it's going to fit into my personality, obviously: I'm going to be mad about it FOREVER.) My go-to TV shows for comfort (and cross stitch), are Bluey, the DuckTales reboot, and The Owl House (And My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but they took that off of Netflix a few years ago and I'm eternally sad about it). The Owl House is one of those shows I kind of can't believe exists because it's so good. The third season is extremely truncated because Disney cancelled it, but even under constraints, the story is top-level. I still get anxious watching the back half of season two, and I love how it all comes together in terms of who gets a redemption arc. Also, it makes me laugh. And cry. And remember how freaking awkward being a teenage girl is.

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… podcast

This might sound weird, but podcasts make me feel kind of carsick???, so I don't really listen to them. I react the same way to talk radio and audiobooks that don't have music or sound effects, so at least I am consistent in my weirdness. I keep trying, but nothing sticks.

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… album

This is absolutely my most changeable answer, because it depends on what music I currently remember exists, how I am feeling, and what I am working on. Most albums throw me directly into specific memories (Battlestar Galactica: the extreme agony of writing at a coffee shop while having to pee; At World's End: summer 2006 in Bradford; Sigh No More plops me directly into my shitty 2013 apartment, bedridden and reading Hobbit fanfic non-stop), but the perfect Sunday album has to be singable, danceable, and driveable, and that means: Florence + The Machine. Specifically, How Big How Blue How Beautiful. The album took a while to grow on me (I spent a long time wishing it was built around Which Witch), but now it's definitely the first one I turn to when I need to let loose.

E.K.’s perfect Sunday… treat

Just before the triangle intersection of Palestine St and King Talal St in Madaba, Jordan (basically kitty corner to the Church of the Map), is a little restaurant called Ayola Café. It has changed entirely since the last time I was there in 2010, and the item in question is no longer on the menu, but they used to have a chicken burger that was absolutely normal in every conceivable way, and somehow also the most sublime thing I have ever eaten. The café was decorated like a Bedouin tent, and there were always Arabic music videos playing (what did the lady doing all that laundry want???? We may never know!), and it was my favourite place in town. On Sunday afternoons, it was pretty quiet, so they'd let us stay as long as we liked. I don't even remember what, entirely, the chicken burger tasted like, but I would give a lot to curl up on one of their embroidered cushions and eat one again.

Pretty Furious by E.K. Johnston is out April 16th from Dutton Books for Young Readers.

#1 NYT Bestseller E.K. Johnston returns to contemporary feminist YA. This story of a small town, fierce friendships, and revenge served cold is a perfect companion to Exit, Pursued by a Bear.

In the small town of Eganston, Ontario, five good girls have had enough. They’ve experienced the best of what their community has to offer, but they’ve seen the darker side too. Together, they’ve decided that it’s time for a reckoning and that justice is their privilege to give.

E.K. JOHNSTON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several YA novels, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist The Story of Owen and Star Wars: Ahsoka. Her novel A Thousand Nights was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. The New York Times called The Story of Owen “a clever first step in the career of a novelist who, like her troubadour heroine, has many more songs to sing” and in its review of Exit, Pursued by a Bearthe Globe & Mail called Johnston “the Meryl Streep of YA,” with “limitless range.” E.K. Johnston lives in southwestern Ontario.