Guest Post: An Interview with Debut Author Kerry Johnson + BOOK GIVEAWAY

EDIT 10/4/21: This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Sherry L., and thank you to everyone who participated!

Hey friends! This week I’m delighted to bring you another author interview! Last time we caught up with one of my critique partners, Michelle Keener, and her latest Red Carpet Romance release. Today I’m thrilled to interview my other critique partner Kerry Johnson, a dear writing friend who has worked long and hard for this moment–the release of her first book, Snowstorm Sabotage. (*Hint* keep reading to find out how to win a signed copy!) First, a little about the book:

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?

Kerry, it’s a delight to have you here today, and I’m so excited about Snowstorm Sabotage! I loved the early version I read. Can you share a little about your process behind writing it? How did you get your ideas? Who or what inspired the characters? How long did it take to write?

Thank you! It’s so fun to be here with you (too bad it’s not in person, sniff). About Snowstorm Sabotage…my family and I visited a ski resort a couple years ago while on vacation, while I was in the throes of starting a new story. At the resort, I remember wondering what it would be like if someone found a body in a cabin or chalet—and my imagination took it from there. The first draft took about three months, but there were lots of revisions (over a year’s worth) before it was clean enough to send to the editor at Love Inspired. I knew Everly would be a strong, take-charge personality, and Isaac was wounded but honorable. I couldn’t wait to get them back together (it’s a reunion romance, my favorite trope).

Oh, I love reunion romances too! What about Everly’s beautiful husky? Did you ever own a dog like hers? Do you have other pets now?

Since the story takes place at a ski resort in January, I had to include the perfect dog—a Siberian Husky, of course. 😊 I’ve never owned one, but a friend owned a white husky with blue eyes years ago. Klondike was a rambunctious, sweet, energetic dog. So much energy! Right now, we have a friendly, lazy boxer mix, Boomer, a high maintenance sun conure (a small parrot), Mango, and spotted leopard gecko, Mac. Plus all the birds and squirrels we feed at our backyard birdfeeder buffet.

Mango is a character, judging by the pictures you share on social media. 😉 You shared that the idea for Snowstorm Sabotage grew out of a visit to a ski resort. I’ve done a little skiing, but it’s been ages. Do you like skiing or other winter sports?

Here’s my secret *leans close to whisper* I’ve water skied, but I’ve never snow skied. I grew up in Connecticut, and we sledded, tubed, ice skated, built snow forts, all the fun winter stuff. But the hills in my hometown weren’t really big enough and there were lots of trees, so we never skied in Connecticut. So, I researched skiing and watched lots of videos of skiers while writing the story.

Ha, that’s awesome! I never would’ve guessed based on the book. But we writers are good at researching and imagining things we’ve never done ourselves, aren’t we? Otherwise, our suspense books would be pretty dull. LOL. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope and pray they enjoy the story and the characters. I just received a message from an early reader, and she said she was up late one night finishing Snowstorm Sabotage because she couldn’t put it down. There’s nothing better than hearing that! I mean, what a privilege and joy to hold someone’s attention for a few hours of their busy life and possibly speak to their heart with the message in your book. On a spiritual level, I pray readers are reminded how valuable they are to God, no matter their past mistakes or circumstances. Also, that God can and does bring beauty out of difficult circumstances.

Yes, those reader comments are the best, and I love how you frame what we do as a privilege! Snowstorm Sabotage is your debut novel, but you have a stellar track record in the ACFW Genesis contest. When did you start writing? What did it take to get here? Were you ever tempted to give up, and what made you keep pushing?

Whew, there were so many times I thought, why am I bothering? throughout the last decade. I started writing my first story in 2008, I believe, and finished it in 2009. I joined ACFW in 2010, and entered that story in Genesis. For whatever reason, I felt God push me to enter that contest, and enter I did. So many times. Year after year. I was pummeled by low scores the first couple of years, but a few kind judges offered suggestions, such as reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, a craft book which helped me learn how to write and edit. Still, it was a long road, complete with a front-row seat to many, many other authors’ success stories and contract pictures. I’ve learned to be truly happy for others and ignore the splinter of envy that jabs and pokes. I love long walks, and I’ve walked (maybe, paced?) hundreds of miles, praying and asking God which path to take next. What genre to write and which conference to attend. Why wasn’t it my turn to sign a contract yet? On those long walks, I cried out, I praised and I wept, often after painful rejections. All I knew, all I clung to, was that God put this dream in my heart for some reason, and I would see it through—only with His help. I’m so glad I didn’t give up, and for other pre-published authors out there—if you’re walking this hard creative heart road with God, and you know He wants you on it, trust Him and keep stumbling forward. Crawl if you have to. Trust Him and step forward in faith.

Thank you for those beautiful and encouraging words! The writing journey is often a long and rough road, isn’t it? You started out writing contemporary romance, right? Why did you decide to switch to romantic suspense, and what do you like best about writing it?

Yes, I’m one of those, you know, genre hoppers. But we’re great fun because our interests vary, right? I’d written a few other stories in various genres in this order—contemporary, middle grade speculative (a trilogy), and a couple contemporary romances—then I tried romantic suspense. It finally sank in that maybe, just maybe, combining romance, action, and suspense was my sweet spot.

Do you have any other advice for someone still looking to get published?

Read craft books and write. More. Stories. Join a writing group. If you’re a Christian, I highly recommend ACFW. There’s also FHLCW (Faith Hope Love Christian Writers). Yes, most of us are introverts, but joining a writing community is hugely helpful. The friendships I’ve made with other writers is the solid foundation on which I knelt when I couldn’t stand (after rejections). Also, did I mention keep writing? Don’t fall madly in love with that one story you wrote. Write more. You get better when you practice.

That’s such good advice, both joining a writing group and also to be willing to move past the one story you wrote. I think too often writers fall into the trap of revising the same book over and over instead of moving on. Okay, last question, just for fun… If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and why?

Oh, so hard to choose! I’d love to visit the Ozarks, because of Where the Red Fern Grows (favorite childhood book). Also, I’ve never seen the Redwoods in California. Then there’s Europe…to see castles and cobblestone streets and famous landmarks. Also, Israel. How amazing would that be?

I’d happily take a trip to any of those places! Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Kerry, and imparting some of your hard-won wisdom. Congrats on your debut, and I’m looking forward to the day we can hang out in person!

GIVEAWAY: If YOU would like to win a signed copy of Snowstorm Sabotage, just comment below on this post and I’ll enter you into the drawing! If you don’t have a WordPress account or can’t figure out how to comment, you can also tell me via the contact page on this website. 🙂

Kerry Johnson has been conversing with fictional characters and devouring books since her childhood in the Connecticut woods. A long-time member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), she’s a seven-time Genesis Contest finalist and two-time winner. Kerry lives on the sunny, stormy west coast of Florida with her engineer husband, two teenaged sons, her nine-year-old niece, and way too many books. She loves long walks, all creatures great and small, and iced chai tea. Her debut with Love Inspired Suspense, Snowstorm Sabotage, releases September 28, 2021.

Website: Kerry Johnson Books | Romance That’s Worth the Risk

Instagram: Kerry Johnson, Author (@candidkerry) • Instagram photos and videos

FB Author page: Kerry Johnson, Author | Facebook

Twitter: Kerry Johnson (@candidkerry) / Twitter

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