Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meet Linda O. Johnston!

Hi Linda! Welcome and thank you for taking time to talk with us today. I just finished reading your latest Hounds Abound and had a few questions and comments for you.

For our readers new to you, how long have you been writing?

All my life! My first published fiction was short stories in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and the first won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery story of the year. My first novel, a time travel romance, was published in 1995, and HOUNDS ABOUND is my 30th published novel.

What inspired you to pick up the pen (or sit down at the computer) one day and create characters that capture the imagination?

I love using my imagination. In fact, my favorite quote is “Reality is only for those who lack imagination!” I always loved to read and decided that I could do that, too. The first time I tried I was just a child, and I started a sci-fi epic about a girl and boy who started traveling around the universe in a space ship. Never finished that one, though.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?

As with every profession, we writers need to keep our noses to the proverbial grindstone, or at least aiming toward a computer screen, a lot of each day. We don’t usually take holidays or vacations like those who have real jobs since we can write, or at least plot, everywhere. Glamorous? Not really. But it’s always fun to get together with readers or do book signings and talk about our stories.

What is the most glamorous thing you’ve done as an author?

I’ve given lectures on writing on cruise ships. Now, that’s fun! Maybe a bit glamorous, too.

With two series, both with pets as a backdrop, are you a plotter or pantzer?

I’m definitely a plotter. I always start by plotting, then developing a synopsis that I work from, usually sticking to it fairly closely.

If you could be a character in any of your books who would it be and why?

Well, Kendra Ballantyne, the protagonist of my Pet-Sitter Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, is a lawyer who lives in the Hollywood Hills and has a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie. Although I’m a full-time writer at the moment, I’m also a lawyer, and I do live in the Hollywood Hills with my Cavalier Lexie. There’s a lot of Kendra in me. But I’ve also gotten involved with volunteering at a local private pet shelter, so there are traces of Lauren Vancouver in me, too. She’s the protagonist of my Pet Rescue Mysteries, also for Berkley Prime Crime and a spinoff from the Kendra series. They both get things resolved in their own ways, so I wouldn’t mind being either of them.

Looking over the past year, what has been the best moment for you in your writing career?
Over the past year? That’s easy. I was selected to participate in Read Humane®, a very special program established by my publisher, Penguin Group (USA). Berkley Prime Crime is an imprint of Penguin’s. They’re donating a substantial amount to the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team, and several Penguin authors with pets in their stories have been chosen to participate to encourage readers to help support the Humane Society and get involved with caring for animals. The other authors are Rebecca M. Hale, Alison Pace, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly--and I’m especially excited to report that the spokesperson is Nora Roberts. A special version of my first Pet Rescue Mystery BEAGLEMANIA will be available to promote Read Humane--one that has a Read Humane seal in the front and information about the Humane Society and its Animal Rescue Team inside.

What do you enjoy doing with your spare time, your non-writing time?

I love being told what to do by my Cavaliers. (I have two, Lexie and Mystie.) Plus, I enjoy volunteering at that pet rescue organization I mentioned. It’s Pet Orphans of Southern California, and I’m a dog adoption counselor there.

What prompted you to write the first your pet sitter and now your pet rescue mysteries?

My first published novels were romances, and I almost always included some suspense or mystery in each of them. I decided to try writing a mystery series that I could especially enjoy writing. In case you can’t tell, I’m obsessed by animals. Pairing mysteries and animals together first in the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series, and now in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, just seemed natural.

If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for lunch, who would it be and what would you eat?

I suspect I’d invite Betty White. She seems like such a character, and her affinity for animals is awe-inspiring. For example, she’s very much involved with the Morris Animal Foundation and the Los Angeles Zoo. Plus, I love her sense of humor. I’m especially enjoying her new reality show Off Their Rockers. Despite my love for animals, I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t know about her. A nice salad would be fine with me.

You’ve gotten the call, a Hollywood producer is going to bring the pet rescue series to the big screen. Who do you cast in the major roles?

Unfortunately, probably not Betty White. Let’s see. I haven’t really considered this before. I might just let the producer hold auditions and request to watch!

Do you see Kendra and Lauren solving a case together in a cross-over?

Kendra always has cameo roles in Lauren’s stories. Lauren likes to do things herself so I’m not sure she’d be glad to have much more than Kendra’s acknowledgment But the idea could really be fun, especially since I think there would be a lot of rivalry between them!

Who are you more like? Kendra or Lauren?

As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of Kendra in me. Lauren, not so much, although I admire her self-reliant attitude and dedication to saving animals.

I have to tell you, three of my cats are rescues and I recently took in an elderly foster with some health issues. I feel rescues are the best. There is something about them that just makes them so very special.
What do you feel makes them so appealing?

Congratulations! I think we love rescues not only because we can save their lives and make sure they have wonderful homes, but because they often act especially grateful and loving--at least once they come to recognize that their lives have changed for the better.

What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about it?

I just turned in the manuscript for the next Pet Rescue Mystery. It’s called OODLES OF POODLES, and it features the film industry and how movies with animals in them strive to get the very special certification from the American Humane Association (different from the Humane Society of the United States) that “No Animals Were Harmed.”® And, yes, it’s a mystery, so Lauren Vancouver has another murder to solve.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’d just like to say thank you very much for inviting me. Loved your questions!

Thank you for taking some time with us today!

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year. Since then, she has had had more short stories published, plus several novellas, and thirty novels including mystery and romance.

Her Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime is a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series. The Pet Rescue Mysteries debuted in March 2011 with BEAGLEMANIA and continued with THE MORE THE TERRIER, an October 2011 release and HOUNDS ABOUND, published in April 2012. Protagonist Lauren Vancouver runs a no-kill pet shelter in LA’s San Fernando Valley and will do anything to save animals. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!

Linda also writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne including the Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters. Her first Harlequin Romantic Suspense novel, UNDERCOVER SOLDIER, will be a July 2012 release.

Visit Linda anytime at www.LindaOJohnston.com. She blogs each Wednesday at KillerHobbies.blogspot.com and you can also find her on Facebook.

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