Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gone to the Dogs

To me nothing makes a house a home more than the animals that share it with me. I have a house full with cats, rats, and a dog...and I board a horse. I'm thrilled when I discover new animal friends in the books I read. Many of my favorite authors love animals too and Linda O. Johnston is one of them. Sit, Stay, Slay was the first of her books that I read; the first Kendra Ballantyne Petsitter Mystery. Sadly, there are currently no plans for more books in this series (although with the possibility of self-publishing, you never know!) but Linda currently writes another mystery series along with romance novels.

Kathy: In addition to cozy mysteries, you write romances. Which came first?
LOJ: Depends on how you look at it.  I’m one of those traditional writers who had a dozen manuscripts under the bed before I sold a novel--and, yes, in those days it was printed-out manuscripts rather than sent via computer.  My first ones were mysteries, and my first published fiction was a mystery short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine which won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year.  But when I finally began selling novels, my first published ones were time travel romances.
Kathy: Do you find it easier to write one genre over another, or is it the same? Do you prefer to write one genre over another? 
LOJ: I find all genres equally challenging to write--and equally fun!  I always include some romance in my mysteries and some suspense or mystery in my romances, so I combine the genres in some respect in each of my stories.
Kathy: Animals play a huge part in your work, in particular Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. What drew you to that particular breed?
LOJ: I met my first Cavaliers on my first trip to London .  A rider on the Underground had a couple of them on her lap.  I saw them and was immediately hooked by their adorable faces.  When I returned home, I did some research and also found that they were among the most loving of breeds.  I had to have them in my life!
Kathy: Kendra deals with all sorts of pets, as does Lauren, do you have multispecies experience as well?
LOJ: I’ve always been more of a dog person than anything else, although we had fish and turtles as pets, too, when I was growing up.
Kathy: You have 2 upcoming releases. Would you tell us about them?

LOJ: OODLES OF POODLES is my fourth Pet Rescue Mystery from Berkley Prime Crime.  Its background is the film industry and making sure that “No Animals Were Harmed,”™ which is the registered trademark of the American Humane Association.  Lauren gets involved observing the shooting of a movie about rescued poodles, and then the director is murdered.  Lauren’s best friend Dr. Carlie Stellan is a suspect, so of course Lauren has to help solve the murder. 
UNDERCOVER WOLF is, coincidentally, the fourth in my Alpha Force miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  It’s a paranormal romance about a covert military unit of shapeshifters.  The hero Quinn is a shapeshifting wolf, and the heroine Kristine isn’t, but she’s an experience aide to shapeshifters.  They both go off together to find out what’s happened to disappeared newlyweds who are Quinn’s brother and new sister-in-law, the protagonists of the prior Nocturne, GUARDIAN WOLF. 
Kathy: What first drew you to the cozy mystery?
LOJ: I love their themes, such as, in my case, animals.  I enjoy reading about protagonists who are in law enforcement or investigation who wind up having to solve crimes, but it’s even more fun sometimes to read and write about how ordinary people deal with stumbling over dead bodies--while going about their regular lives that involve crafts, cooking or, of course, pets.
Kathy: Do you write any other genres? (I know about mysteries and romances...anything else up your sleeve?)  
LOJ: I’m always coming up with ideas for other kinds of stories.  I’ve got one theme in mind now that probably won’t be a cozy, but I haven’t yet figured out the best way of presenting it.  One of these days, though, I’ll focus on it and see where it leads me.
Kathy: Tell us about your series. (Please describe your series-each of them-in a sentence or two.)
LOJ: My Pet Rescue Mysteries are about Lauren Vancouver, the chief administrator of HotRescues, a no-kill pet shelter in L.A. ’s San Fernando Valley .  She’ll do anything to save animals--including solve murder mysteries.  As a result, in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!
My Alpha Force miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne is about a covert military unit of shapeshifters--mostly werewolves.  Each member is also assigned an aide to help in their shifting, which is enhanced by a wonderful elixir first brewed by one of its officers, one that allows the shifters to choose when to shift and to keep their human awareness while shifted.  They keep getting into interesting situations involving members of the opposite sex who may or may not be shifters--but are definitely alluring and sexy to them!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LOJ: My favorite character is always the one I’m writing about at the time.  But of all those I’ve featured in stories, I’ve identified most with Kendra Ballantyne, star of my Pet-Sitter Mysteries.  That’s because she’s a lawyer, as I’ve been.  She lives in the Hollywood Hills, as I do.  And she has a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie, as I do.  Then again, I enjoy Lauren Vancouver, star of my Pet Rescue Mysteries.  My research into writing her stories led me to volunteer at a local private pet rescue shelter, which I really enjoy.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LOJ: Not really, just a love of animals.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LOJ: Writing is delightful, and I wanted to share what I did with others.  Publishing traditionally just seemed the way to go when I started out.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite? 
LOJ: I’d love to invite the three authors who got me into reading most as a teenager, also inspiring me to write: Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis A. Whitney.  Then, for the fun of it, I’d also invite Edgar Alan Poe.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LOJ: As usual, I tend to read in the genre I’m writing to get me into the mood, since I change back and forth so often.  I’d rather not share a specific book, but since I’m finishing another Pet Rescue Mystery, it’s a cozy mystery.  But I’m about to hop into a Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LOJ: I already have--animals, especially dogs!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LOJ: Dog food, soup, ice cream, salads.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LOJ: Always!  There will be at least one more Pet Rescue Mystery and another Alpha Force paranormal romance, as well as another Harlequin Romantic Suspense novel.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author? 
LOJ: Writing, of course!  And letting my mind go wild.  I’ve always said that my favorite quote, although I don’t know whom to attribute it to, is “Reality is only for those who lack imagination!”

If you want to read more about Linda O. Johnson, check out these sites:
Starting Monday Cozy Mystery Book Reviews will host the Oodles of Poodles Book Tour. Be sure to follow all of the different blogs participating for more Linda O. Johnston all week!


  1. What an awesome interview. I love the Kendra Ballantyne series. I must pick up the Pet Rescue series. Oh, maybe on the 17th of February, hmmm Linda?

  2. The research sounds like a fun part of your writing process. Thank you for volunteering in an animal shelter, and I hope you get lots of inspiration there!

  3. Great interview! Thanks.
    I'm reading an ARC of Oodles of Poodles and absolutely loving the story. I've read the others in series and enjoy your writing style so much, Linda. Love your finesse with red herrings. : )

  4. Thanks, Christine. Up to you about the 17th, but that would be fine with me! :)

  5. Research is definitely fun, Alyssa, and there are always a lot of dogs and cats to provide inspiration!

  6. Thanks, Robena, and I'm glad you're enjoying Oodles of Poodles!

  7. I love dogs in books, and you have always done that beautifully, Linda O.

    Enjoyed the interview a lot.

  8. Thanks, Kathy and Linda, for an intereting interview. The stories sound awesome, and completely different! Linda, you're versatile as well as prolific. Congratulations on your TWO upcoming releases!!

  9. Thanks, Lynne. In case you can't tell, I love writing about dogs!

  10. Thanks, Samanthe. I certainly don't get bored with my writing!

  11. Thanks everyone for all the great comments.