Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Prison Librarian

Author Interview ~ Johnpaul Mahofski

As many of you know, I spend lots of time in the virtual world, Second Life (and, recently, Kitely, too).

Lots for a writer to do in these worlds—at a café, library, or even a fishing club—talking about writing or, as writers do, talking about everything else

One of my long-term friends has had three names, so far, for his avatars—Soup Johnson, Relish Resident, and Brokali (trying on personae is often practiced in virtual worlds…).

His real-world name is Johnpaul Mahofski and I’ve done four past posts featuring him and his unique fiction:

Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

Microfiction ~ Revisited

MicroFiction Reprise :-)

And, we had a mini-interview in this post—My Friend ~ Micro-Fiction Writer & Prison Librarian

And, here’s an article about Microfiction, itself.

Those links to Johnpaul’s posts will lead you to some of his stories

So, let’s have a proper interview with this man.


Would you tell us a little bit about yourself, Johnpaul?

Let’s see I have low self-esteem and suffer from depression and anxiety. I definitly think those two aspects are me. On paper, I am Johnpaul Mahofski, age 43. I’ve been in the taxable workforce since I was 15. Prior to that, I carried newspapers and cleaned offices and, along the way, I’ve earned a B.S. Education, emphasis Mathematics; and, an M.L.I.S. Masters, Library and Information Science.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read a decent amount, work my day job, fish, and attend church regularly. Oh! And, hang out in virtual worlds

And, the title of our mini-interview revealed that day job as prison librarian—an exemplary service you perform

So, Johnpaul, when did you start writing?

I always enjoyed writing; but, I’d say it was in the early nineties that I penned a column for the college newspaper called Pope’s Thoughts. Little did I know these stories were what I now call microfiction. After that, I earned a bit in journalism (on the side) up until about five years ago—sports reporting, feature writing, local meetings. I did this mostly for Pittsburgh newspapers.

Can you explain your motivations for being a microfictioneer?

I think the best I can say is that short columns and stories are what feels the best. I don’t know about novels for me I love to just punch, hard and quick.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m a people watcher.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

No, but I do experience laziness.

Are there any particular authors who’ve influenced you?

Charles Dickens, David Barry, David Sedaris, Lydia Davis, Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, Nicholas Sparks—not in that order.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I think when you self publish the only challenge is yourself.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?

I feel like I would have done more stories

How do you promote your work?

I haven’t marketed this work yet. (see above—low self-esteem, anxiety, depression {Also see my punctuation.})

Would you say your stories are mostly based on your people-watching or is it also imagination?

Yes, both play hard in these stories.

Do you have any favorite stories in this collection?

No, every little story is important to me.

What project are you working on now?

I’m working on a professional project, an anthology; plus, I’m doing a lot of research about Saints, hoping to write microfiction about them.

What’s been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Or, what’s been the best compliment?

As a journalist I was often criticized and told “We’ll call you”. It hurt a lot. The best compliment is being interviewed on this blog.

Well, Johnpaul, your best compliment is a compliment for me :-)

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read, visit your libraries, and write with your eyes closed once a week.


Thanks, so muchJohnpaul, for an interview that’s let my readers peek into a corner of the mind of a microfiction author…

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My Friend ~ Micro-Fiction Writer & Prison Librarian

Johnpaul Mahofski—formerly known as Relish, now known as Brokali on Book Island, in the virtual world, Second Life.

I’ve never met him in “real life” but we do have a Real friendship

We’ve had his Micro-Fiction here twice, so far:

Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

Microfiction ~ Revisited

Johnpaul is also the librarian at a real prison in Maryland in the USA.

Recently, I asked him a few questions about his job:

From the figures you gave me, I notice you have over 9,000 books. What are some of the inmates’ favorites?

The collection balance is slowly growing as many have donated books, and I have purchased books. We have a normal dewey system library. With Urban fiction circulating the highest, but Horror and Mystery being second. The number one author is James Patterson. I have an entire section dedicated to his work.

Also note that we constantly weed books due to the inmates reading them until they are tattered beyond repair. Your book was like that!

I’ll be eternally grateful that you found a home for Notes from an Alien in your library :-)

So, do your patrons use the Internet?

Inmates cannot use the Internet. I can however look up things for them. Sometimes they are researching things and want more info. They like to learn about everything they read about and beyond. I have searched for them about Herod, Ring fingers, small towns, slavery, the 1968 Olympics, many medications they are prescribed and much more.

Do they use computers at all? Also, what about printed reference books?

Our reference collection, print-wise, is no different than any public library. The computers we have offer inmate resources including rehabs, outside programs once paroled, zip code finders, resume makers, typing tutors, Word, Excel, Power Point tutorials, Lexus Nexus and many other legal resources. I track stats for all of these.

They can even send for full case reports and use them to help with their legal motions. Everyone can order up to 5 cases a week.

Any special programs you’d like to mention?

Book discussions! Each unit has approximately 5-10 volunteers that read 2 books a month and then discuss them.


I can’t leave this post without mentioning that, whenever Johnpaul and I are on Book Island together, FUN  is a major part of the program :-)
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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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