Award-winning author Kerry Johnson recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life.
Why did you start writing romantic suspense novels?
I’d written several stories before signing my first book contract in 2020, and three of them are part of a middle grade speculative/adventure trilogy that’s near and dear to my heart. I adored writing the action scenes in those stories. I mean, I’d choose a Marvel movie over a rom-com most days (except Christmastime, when I love me some While You Were Sleeping). After writing the middle grade trilogy, I tried contemporary romance. While I enjoyed writing those, they felt a bit flat to me. Then an author friend nudged me to try writing romantic suspense—and I was hooked. It mixed exactly what I love most—action and romance.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense?
The crime aspect. I don’t watch a lot of CSI or shows like that, so I don’t have a wide storehouse of knowledge in that area. I research a lot and rely on friends who know more about this to make sure the police procedural stuff and crime part of the story is correct.
What did you want to be as a child (and did that dream come true)?
From a young age, I’ve loved animals and books. Being a veterinarian was definitely a dream until about the age of 12, when I realized the vet actually does surgery, which means blood. Plus, I noticed our own animals were often terrified going to the vet. Add to that I’m naturally an English and language-brained person, so the thought of all the math and science required cemented the deal that veterinary science wasn’t for me. I’ve always dreamed of writing books though, and I’m so grateful to get the chance to do that now.
How do you connect with your characters?
I create a rough bio for the hero and heroine before writing, but I’m a pantser, so I get to know them best while writing. I write a few drafts, and on each go-round, I tighten and hone in on exactly who they are, what they’d say or do, and how they’d react in different situations. I love this part of the process as my characters come to life and reveal who they are.
How do you pick the location/setting for your romantic suspense novels?
For my debut, Snowstorm Sabotage, I chose a ski resort in New England as the setting. I grew up in New England, plus we visited a ski resort a couple of years ago, and that story idea was born. I love the woods and snow, and this setting melded the two. While brainstorming my next story (which is a series), I chose a location my family and I visited on vacation a few years ago, a national forest that has this really cool old railroad tunnel in it. It’s a beautiful setting, though I fictionalized it for the series. I research the setting, and often scroll through pictures when I first sit down for a writing session.
When do you find time to write?
I’m grateful that I only work one day a week. So the other four days allow me a few hours of uninterrupted writing, revising, and reading time while my kids are in school. My husband now works from home most days, so that’s made it…interesting. I tease him that he stole my office space and writing desk. Our guest bedroom is also an office, and that’s where I used to write, pre-quarantine life. When he’s working at home, I usually write at the kitchen table or during cooler winter months, I’ll write out on our lanai (I’m in Florida, so October through March are the best months to be outside).
About Kerry Johnson
Kerry Johnson has been conversing with fictional characters since her childhood in the Connecticut woods. A long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she’s a seven-time Genesis Contest finalist and two-time winner. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her engineer husband, two teenaged sons, her nine-year-old niece, and way too many books. She loves Jesus, long walks, all creatures great and small, and iced chai tea.
Snowstorm Sabotage by Kerry Johnson
Can she survive a blizzard…and being framed?
Single mom Everly Raven didn’t just discover the murder of her friend—she’s being framed for it. Now she’s on the run from hired killers at her family’s ski resort, all while a deadly blizzard rages. Her only hope is her ex-husband, FBI agent Isaac Rhodes—the secret father of her child. But can they live long enough for him to meet their daughter—and clear Everly’s name?