It exposes me as a “noob,” as my children like to say, but I still get a celebrity rush when I talk to “real” (read: published) authors. So when author Liz Johnson said she was available for interviews in conjunction with the release of her second book, Vanishing Act, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
So today, you have a free backstage pass to a one-on-one interview with Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense author Liz Johnson. Settle in with a cup of tea, or coffee, or whatever, and prepare to peek into the secret world of a writer‘s life.
Me (the “noob”): Liz, thank you so much for taking time for an interview! You’ve been in the publishing industry for awhile. Did you always want to write your own stories? How has it been different?
Liz: I have been in the industry for a while—a little over four years now—but I’ve been writing a lot longer than that! The last 23 years or so. While I was always writing stories, I didn’t really consider working toward publication until I started working in publishing. It was then that I thought it might really be possible, and I had a friend who encouraged me to finish the book I was working on and then helped me edit it and get it ready to submit. Now that I have a couple books out, I do find it very different to be on the publishing side of things. Overall, I think it’s given me a great appreciation and understanding for the other side of things. As an author, I have more patience for my editor and the whole team working on my book.
Me: The heroine of Vanishing Act, Nora James/Danielle, has an unusual occupation as an auto mechanic. What kind of research did you do for the character?
Liz: I spent a whole lot of time on the Internet, reading about how combustion engines work. I also spent a lot of time with my mechanic, just observing his procedures for the office and garage.
Me: Hero Nate Anderson is strong, protective, and has integrity. When you’re creating male characters, where do you find your inspiration?
Liz: My heroes are always guys that I want to run into some day (just not in the same way that my heroines do). I suppose that they have a lot of qualities that my brother and brother-in-law have. My brother is an ordinary guy, with an ordinary job in IT, but he is one of the most giving people I know. He uses his talents in the technical realm to help anyone who asks. He works hard to provide for his family, and he’s an average joe, who really isn’t so average. And my brother-in-law is the captain on the fire department. He rescues people and puts out fires and is the kind of leader that is respected by all of his crew. Both of these guys are strong and protective and lead their families with integrity. I’m proud to be in a family with them, and they make for good foundations for my heroes.
Me: Because every aspiring author wants to know… what does a typical writing day look like for you?
Liz: Typical? I’m sad to say there is no typical writing day for me. Ever. Because I work full-time and still try to maintain a personal life with friends, I have to squeeze my writing in wherever I can. Actually it means that I have to schedule writing time into my life. I shoot for 3 or 4 nights a week—somewhere between a trip to the gym and running errands—but I usually write more than that when I’m getting close to finishing a manuscript because I’m so excited about getting to the end.
Me: Vanishing Act is set in Colorado, your former home state. What makes Colorado such a popular locale for fiction? And now that you’ve moved to Tennessee, do you think your future characters will move with you?
Liz: Actually my next book, Code of Justice, is scheduled to come out next spring, and it takes us back to Oregon, where my first book was set. But I am thinking about writing a book set in Franklin, Tennessee, just a few miles from my new home. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up with more stories set where I’ve lived. I love being able to include little details because of personal experience.
Me: How do you connect your faith to your fiction? What do you hope your readers will gain spiritually from your stories?
Liz: I often find that whatever God is teaching me winds up in my books. In my first book it was dealing with learning that God doesn’t ever leave us or forsake us. In Vanishing Act, it was learning to turn my fear over to God and trust that He is in control. Ultimately I hope that each of books will point readers to a God who loves us and saves us.
Me: On another note, as someone with experience on both sides of the publishing world, what’s your opinion about e-books and the growth of self-publishing markets?
Liz: Wow! That’s a big question in the market right now. I will say that I’m really excited about the amazing opportunities out there for both e-books and self-publishing. It’s an exciting time to be in publishing. Lots of things are changing, and new doors of possibility are opening all the time. I think it’s a great time to be a writer. There are opportunities for nearly every writing need … and every reading need. I, for one, hope that traditional books never go away. I love everything about books, from the smell of new books to way the pages feel in my hands to making notes in the margins. I would hate for the next generation of readers to miss out on those things.
Me: What’s your all-time favorite writing snack?
Liz: I love a good bag of peanut butter M&M’s and a diet Dr. Pepper. Just enough sugar and caffeine to keep me writing for hours … or until the sugar crash. 🙂
Me: Ah, another diet Dr. Pepper fan like me! Thank you for visiting with me today. Anything else you’d like to share?
Me: Thank you again for coming by In Truer Ink. You are my first official blog interviewee and you’ve made it a very pleasant experience. Blessings for your continued success as a writer!
Liz was also gracious enough to offer her services as a guest blogger at Inkwell Inspirations during our week of “Fun and Games.” Check out her post to discover how playing with dolls as a child inspired her creativity!
About the author:
Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.
Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz’s adventures in writing at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com.
Liz Johnson’s new release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense is called Vanishing Act. It’s her second novel for Steeple Hill.
“Eighteen months ago, Nora James watched as her father was shot in an alley-and then she fled. She changed her name, her appearance and her job, hoping to keep her father’s shooter at bay. For months, it worked…but now her luck has run out. A ruthless assassin is on her trail, and soon Nora, now known as Danielle, will be found. But this time, she has FBI agent Nate Andersen by her side-right? The handsome agent would give his life to protect Danielle, but he’s wary of giving his heart…until a deadly confrontation leaves him with both on the line.“Vanishing Act
is available for purchase at the following locations or wherever your favorite Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense novels are sold:Amazon.com BarnesandNoble.com CBD.com Borders.comBooksamillion.com