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An Interview with Linda O. Johnston


MM: Linda, give us the back story on your writing career?

          I've been a writer all my life, and each of my careers has added to it.  My first job was as a secretary at my father's advertising and public relations agency and it led me to get my undergraduate degree in journalism with an advertising emphasis.  Later, I attended law school where I wrote articles for the law review and also learned to write contracts.

          But I also started to write fiction, and my first published fiction, a short story in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year.  Then came novels, starting with time travel romance--and, by the way, I'm currently making some of those first stories available as e-books, including ONCE A CAVALIER, where Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (my loves!) help the heroine travel to the time of King Charles II of England when the spaniels who were the ancestors of Cavaliers first became popular.  And of course the heroine meets the hero there...

          Since then, I've written more romances, including paranormal and romantic suspense, as well as four cozy mystery series.

MM: What comes first the character, plot or setting?

          In general, I get a good sense of the protagonist before I start putting her into the situation where she'll wind up solving murders in my cozies, or finding her true love in my romances.  But plot comes in a strong second since I need to know quickly what's going to happen to her and how she's going to handle it.  Setting is generally fit in to work with the rest.

MM: Do you have a village of people who help you? Such as a writing group, people who read your manuscript as you go along to help catch the error before the editors see the book?
          I belonged to the same critique group for twenty years but it recently disbanded.  Now I have a couple of writer friends who read my manuscripts, tell me what errors they see, if any, and give me suggestions about the story.

MM: Is there a mentor or teacher you would like to thank?

Maybe one of my junior high English teachers, who, when my school year with her was over, told me I'd never be successful because I didn't participate in class enough.  That was because I was shy, not because I didn't know the answers.  But her criticism helped to convince me to work even harder and, yes, hopefully become successful!  So, in a backhanded way, I thank her.

MM: If you could sit down with five authors over a meal. Who would be authors be? What would you ask them? What meal would you have and what would you tell them?

          I suspect I'd choose a meal at one of the mystery writer and reader conferences I attend and I'd want to get together with my buddies who also write pet-related mysteries, such as Tracy Weber, Sparkle Abbey, Dean James, Krista Davis and Janet Cantrell.  Yes, I know that's six authors but the two wonderful people who are Sparkle Abbey write together.

          I'd ask them what's next in their writing, thank most of them for our great Facebook group Nose for Trouble Mysteries, and tell them what I hope to write next.  Not sure what meal we'd have.  It'd have to be something fun and quick!

MM: Give us the guided tour on where you live? Why do you like living there?

I live in Los Angeles in the Hollywood Hills.  L.A. is a fun place to live since it has so much going on, but that unfortunately includes ever-growing traffic. 

MM: What would your characters tell us about you that we don't know?

I can be a bit demanding of my characters at times, but they all seem to step up and do a good job following what I tell them to do.

MM: Do you have any television shows, snack or dessert that you binge on once in a while?

Well, I'm an admitted chocoholic...  And of course my favorite TV show is Castle, partly because it's about--what else?--a mystery writer!

MM: Now for fun questions. What is your favorite movie, songs, vacation place, do you ever reread your favorite books?

Movie: Maybe Mamma Mia, because I like Abba songs, but there are a lot of oldies I'd like to watch again.  And recently, I really enjoyed The Intern.
Songs: "I Was Born Under A Wandering Star" from Paint Your Wagon; "It's My Life" from Bon Jovi, "Lucky Ladybug" and, of course, "Linda."
Vacation Place: Cruises, particularly Alaskan.  Australia.  And especially London since I met my first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on the Underground on my first trip there.
Rereading favorite books: Yes, when I have a chance.  And I do reread my own!  (Especially when I'm working on another in that series.)

MM: Tell us about your series? Your latest book and professionally what 2016 will hold for you?

My latest release is KNOCK ON WOOD, the second Superstition Mystery.  In the Superstition Mysteries, Rory Chasen is a superstition agnostic who first came to Destiny, California--which is all about superstitions--to learn if superstitions are real after her fiancé walked under a ladder and was killed shortly thereafter.  When she arrived in town, her lucky black-and-white dog Pluckie found an ill older lady in the back room of her store, the Lucky Dog Boutique.  Now, Rory runs that boutique.  That beginning is described in the first Superstition Mystery, LOST UNDER A LADDER.

In KNOCK ON WOOD, Rory's best friend Gemma comes for a visit and winds up staying to manage the Broken Mirror Bookstore--and run from her newly ex boyfriend.  She starts flirting with others in town, and when one of them, Lou Landorf, the town's Public Affairs Director, is found dead... well, you can guess who the main suspect is.  And there will be at least one more Superstition Mystery.

I'm also writing three other series.  My Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries began in May of this year with BITE THE BISCUIT, and the second one, TO CATCH A TREAT, will be published next year.  I also write romances for two Harlequin series.  My Alpha Force miniseries is part of the Harlequin Nocturne paranormal romance series, about a covert military unit of shapeshifters, and I also write for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. 

MM: Lastly, is there something you would like to say to your readers?

Anyone who's familiar with me and my writing knows that I'm a dog lover, and I try to include dogs in my work whenever possible.  In fact, all of my mystery series involve dogs.  I wanted to mention that here, since it's important to me and my work.
And I especially want to say to my readers, thanks for reading!


  1. I absolutely adore your book covers. I also love Castle and the interview was fun.


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