Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Rebecca Johns  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;


-- Website --
-- Rebecca Johns on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Johns grew up in northern Illinois and attended Antioch Community High School.

Biographical and Professional Information

Rebecca Johns is an author and educator. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is currently a member of DePaul University's English department.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Icebergs: A Novel
ISBN: 1582344981

Bloomsbury USA. 2006

A beautifully written, multigenerational story of love, war, and fate that spans WWII to the present.

In World War II Canada, Walt Dunmore and Al Clark are the only members of their bomber crew to survive a plane wreck on Newfoundland's Labrador coast―but now they must fight injuries and cold in the sub-zero wilderness. On the home front, in a small Canadian farming community, Walt's young wife Dottie struggles with her own battles: loneliness, worry, and an attraction to an itinerant farm worker. Only one man comes home alive from Labrador, but the lives of their two families remain forever entwined. Years later, when both families relocate to Chicago, questions of loyalty and bravery ensnare their children as they confront Vietnam and their own desires. One of them is left with a choice: revenge or sacrifice. The novel follows the characters into old age, when decades-old secrets illuminate the present and the past. Johns expertly interweaves multiple storylines, maintaining tight narrative tension and slowly revealing the stories that bind her characters together. An ambitious, lyrical debut that explores romantic love and deceit, death and survival, war and domesticity, marriage, parenthood, and aging, Icebergs explores how tragedies narrowly averted can alter the course of lives as drastically as those met head-on.

The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory
ISBN: 0307588467

Broadway Books. 2011

Was the “Blood Countess” history’s first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?

In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crime: the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty škrata—a witch—a portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.

In this riveting dramatization of Erzsébet Báthory’s life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only son—a final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Báthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in sixteenth-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsébet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.

Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferenc’s extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.

The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husband’s power and secure her family’s future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Báthory’s demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Báthory the moniker “Blood Countess,” but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

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Psychos, Stalkers, and She-Devils Using Bad Characters to Create Good Fiction Program

Aspiring writers will learn the techniques of building better bad guys from DePaul University creative writing professor Rebecca Johns, author of The Countess A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory and Icebergs A Novel, a PEN/Hemingway finalist work. Includes handouts and exercises. (Adults; 90 min; $300 with permission to sell books)

Structuring Your Novel Program

Aspiring writers will learn the craft of structuring a novel from beginning to end from DePaul University creative writing professor Rebecca Johns, author of The Countess A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory and Icebergs A Novel, a PEN/Hemingway finalist work. Includes handouts and exercises. (Adults; 90 min; $300 with permission to sell books)