Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We welcome Linda O. Johnston to the HotSeat!

Today we welcome bestselling author Linda O. Johnston!

A bit about Linda:

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, Linda, who is also a lawyer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 33 romance and mystery novels, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne. 

Linda’s Pet Rescue Mysteries, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, feature Lauren Vancouver, a determined pet rescuer who runs a no-kill shelter.  In this cozy series, “no-kill” refers to pets, not people!  (R: Yay!) 

And now, in my hotseat....Linda O. Johnston!

R:  Meow, welcome to my blog Linda
L:  Thanks ROCCO.

R:  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
L: I’ve always been interested in writing.  As I grew up, I saved ideas for essays for school assignments.  I even started a sci fi epic when I was in my early teens--one I didn’t finish, unfortunately. 
I’ve been an L.A. resident for many years, and I’m also a lawyer by background.  I still practice law occasionally but I’m delighted to be able to immerse myself in what I really love to do: write!
R: You are heavily involved in pet rescue, a cause dear to my own heart, meow.   What sparked your involvement in this worthy cause?
L: I came up with the idea of writing the Pet Rescue Mystery series as a spinoff from my first mysteries, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries.  My publisher liked the idea as long as all the animals came out of it safe and healthy--which was the only way I’d write!  My pets, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, had come from breeders, so although I liked the idea of adopting from shelters I didn’t know much about it until I started researching my stories.  I learned a lot about the shelters, the shelter systems, and the wonderful people dedicated to rescuing pets--and I was hooked.  I not only write about pet rescue these days, but I also volunteer at a wonderful local shelter, Pet Orphans of Southern California.
R:  Tell us about your other series for Harlequin! You go from rescuing animals to hot military Shapeshifters.  What inspired you to do something like that?
L: I actually write for two Harlequin series.  I write my own paranormal romance miniseries for their Nocturne line, the Alpha Force stories about a covert military unit of shapeshifters.  Hey, I like animals, even quasi-human ones!  Most of my shifters change into wolves, which are, of course, canines, and I think it’s pretty obvious that I adore dogs.  It’s a natural for me to write about werewolves, too.
I also write for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  All of my stories, whether mysteries or romances, contain elements of suspense and romance, so it’s also fun for me to write for this Harlequin line.
R: Tell us about your latest release
L: I actually had two books released in February.  OODLES OF POODLES is the fourth Pet Rescue Mystery.  It’s themed around the film industry and the “No Animals Were Harmed”® certification, available only from the American Humane Association.  The story involves rescued poodles playing the roles of rescued poodles in a film, and the director, who endangers them, is murdered.  My protagonist Lauren Vancouver has to figure out whodunit since her good friend, veterinarian and TV star Dr. Carlie Stellan is the primary suspect.
In May 2013, one of my Pet Rescue Mysteries, HOUNDS ABOUND, is being reprinted with a special seal for Read Humane™, a program of the Penguin Group U.S.A. which has reprinted other specific books involving animals and also donated money to the Humane Association of the United States.  It’s the second time one of my Pet Rescue Mysteries has been chosen for the Read Humane program.  The first one, BEAGLEMANIA, was a Read Humane imprint last year.
And, by the way, I have an e-novella scheduled to be published in June: NONSTOP SPANIELS, which is also a Pet Rescue Mystery.
Also released in February was my fourth Alpha Force story for Harlequin Nocturne: UNDERCOVER WOLF.   In it, a hunky shapeshifting member of Alpha Force joins forces with a nonshifting aide to go find a missing honeymooning couple who happen to be his brother and her commanding officer.  They have to go undercover--literally and figuratively, since their optimum method is to pretend that they, too, are honeymooners!
I’ll bet that was a longer answer than you were anticipating... (R: but very interesting...and the HUMAN's favorite breed of dog is a King Charles Cavalier, BTW, so if I were to allow one in the house that is the breed of choice)
R: Which of (your character)  adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?
L: What’s always the most fun for me is the story I’m writing at the moment!  Sometimes I find stories that are a little harder to edit than others, but on the whole they’re all fun.
R:  Do you have a “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
L: I sold my first books, which were time travel romances, before I got my agent.  I received the call on the first novel while I was at work--in-house counsel at an oil company.  Needless to say, all my coworkers got the word, too, as I ran around with joy! 
I don’t have a particular “how I got my agent” story, except that I knew the kind of agent I wanted.  As I was leaving that law job because the company had moved far enough away from my home to make the commute difficult and was also downsizing, I decided to try my own hand at becoming an agent.  It didn’t work out well, especially since my former employer kept me busy with part-time law projects and I of course was also writing.  But I knew I didn’t want an agent like myself, and I did want a diligent New York agent who really liked my stuff!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
L: My dogs help, although they love interrupting my writing to give me orders--out, treats, the usual.  (R:  Hmmm....sounds a lot like here, LOL)
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
L: I want them to enjoy what they’ve read!
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
L: I’m definitely a plotter, although occasionally my characters will tell me to take a different direction in a story, and I nearly always obey them.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
L: As I indicated, I obey my dogs a lot.  Ask them about tricks. 
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
L: My website is: www.LindaOJohnston.com. ; I’m also on Facebook.  I blog weekly at KillerHobbies.blogspot.com, and I also blog on the 18th of every month at KillerCharacters.com.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
L: Keep at it.  Don’t ever give up.  Join writers groups,  especially those that focus on the genre(s) in which you’re writing, and attend their local meetings as well as conferences--and schmooze as much as you can with the authors who write in your genres.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Sorry, Rocco, but for me dogs are #1.  I do love cats, too, though.
Beach or Pool?   Air conditioning.
Steak or salad?   How about a steak salad?
Favorite Drink?  A good, dark beer.
Favorite Book?  My own, of course.
Favorite TV Series?  Castle
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?   Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska?  Alaska.  Alaskan cruises are my favorite!
Meow, thanks for a great interview, Linda!
Linda will give a copy of her fourth Pet Rescue Mystery OODLES OF POODLES to a lucky reader.  To enter, just leave a comment with your email address. For extra entries, you can:

 * Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight June 2!

next week: Hannah Reed!

Winners of our Maggie Shayne giveaway: Lulu, Renee Bremer and Amber! Congrats! Watch for an email from maggie to claim your prize!


  1. What a great interview. I love reading about authors.


  2. A fun interview - cats ask the best questions! Off to check out the series for my kindle now :-)

    1. Thanks, Veronica! I really enjoyed responding to Rocco's questions.

    2. and the HUMAN and I enjoyed having you Linda! PS: the human's favorite breed of dog - if I'd ever allow one, that is - is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!

  3. This was a fun interview! You look very much like my cat Schmoozer, she lived to be 17, and was a charming and very vocal friend. ; )

    Hi, Linda. I enjoyed Oodles of Poodles very much, so don't put me in the draw. I've always liked how you create your mysteries and include animals in your stories.

    1. Schmoozer must have been adorable, Robena! Thanks for your kind comments.

    2. I agree - black and white cats are the bestest!!!!!!!! - ROCCO

  4. Terrific interview...though, Linda, I'm boggled you have time for blog hops with all the writing you do! I enjoyed learning about your different series.

    Like Robena, I have already enjoyed Oodles of Poodles, (and so did my mom!), so no need to enter me in the drawing.

    1. Thanks, Samanthe. Blog hops are fun and seem to be part of the process of writing these says.

  5. Rocco, you're one cool cat who asks all the right questions.

    I commend your guest, Linda, for having the fortitude to admit dogs were number one with her. How wonderful to have such a busy person take time to champion animals who need homes.

  6. This was a fun interview. Dark beer, huh?

    1. Yep, dark beer, Janie. Maybe it was the time I spent in Germany that turned my taste that way...

    2. Meow, I enjoy dark beer myself...the HUMAN does not stock it n the hosue enough.

  7. Pet Rescue series! Pet rescue is dear to my heart, too.What a wonderful idea to get your stories read and the word out about pets. Good job! Continued success toy ou,Linda.
    You know I am a friend and follower;I will repost this on FB

  8. Thanks so much, Tonette. Pet rescue is also dear to my heart, and I love getting the word out to encourage people to save animals. I don't preach in my stories, though. I just show how great it is to save pets!

  9. Great interview! Pet rescue sounds like a very good series. I'm off to see about getting the first one in this series.

    I follow this blog by email.

  10. Oooh, more books for my TBR list! Great interview!
    Susan P
    farmygirl@hotmail dot com
    FB follower
    Blog follower
    Twitter follower

  11. Glad you enjoyed it, Susan. I sure did!