Friday, May 31, 2013

Feature Friday: J.R. Johansson

J.R. JOHANSSON is a young adult thriller author published with Flux & FSG/Macmillan. Her debut, INSOMNIA is coming June 2013. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she's not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she's nearly drowning in testosterone.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

J.R.:
Keep writing no matter what. When you finish one book, take a breath and start another. Your first book usually isn't the one that gets published (and you'll be grateful for that later), but as long as you keep writing and striving to improve, you'll be ready when the opportunity finds you.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

J.R.:
Ah, the impossible question for any book lover. I don't have a favorite book, I have MANY favorite books. Today, I'll pick the top two on my list: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Insomnia?

J.R.:
I have bizarre dreams and one morning I woke up after an especially odd one wondering if other people had dreams like mine and what would my husband or my mom think if she saw my dreams. Then it just kind of evolved from there.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Insomnia?  What were they and how did you fix them?

J.R.:
I always hit a snag about 1/3 in to every book. It's the part where my internal editor starts yapping and I have to duct tape her mouth shut and stick her in the closet at the back. That's the only major snag I ran into with this particular book.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Insomnia is your favorite and why?

J.R.:
That really depends on the day, but I'd have to say that most often it's the main character's best friend, Finn. He's the comic relief and helps ease the tension a bit. He's real and loyal and everything else that a person need in a best friend. Love him!

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

J.R.:
Let's see, I've been writing for just over 5 years. I wrote my first book and then rewrote it about 727 times before I was finally ready to move on. I've been with my agent, Kathleen Rushall, for two years. Insomnia sold to Germany and Italy before it sold in the U.S. And I have been known to scare myself with my stories.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

J.R.:
I'm finishing up drafting the Insomnia sequel right now, and then I'll be diving into one of my new ideas. I'm so excited about my top 3 choices, I'm not really sure how I'll pick.

A.L.:
Since we're talking about dreams, if Parker could see into your dreams, what's he most likely to find?

J.R.:
Haha, um...I dream a lot about aliens. I dream about things crawling out of books. I also have dreams of running errands lately...I'm pretty sure those would bore Parker out of his mind.

A.L.:
How did you maintain Parker's likability without making him seem too much like a creeper around Mia?  Or DOES he seem like a creeper, even to the reader?

J.R.:
I think there are moments when he seems like a creeper, and (hopefully) those are the moments that I wanted him to seem like that. I didn't want him to be basically stalking this girl and not come off as creepy, I think that's sending a bad message. Stalking isn't okay and I wanted to make sure that was clear. But Parker really struggles and he spends most of the book trying to do the right thing, and often at risk and loss to himself. I think those parts of the book plus the struggles he goes through make him likeable overall.

A.L.:
If you could visit any one country in the world, where would you go and why?

J.R.:
I'd go to Germany because they love dark creepy books there, so I feel like they might be my people. ;-)

The Giveaway:
J.R. is giving away a signed copy of INSOMNIA.

Insomnia:  It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?


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How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.

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