Sunday, June 14, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Tammy Johnson

Let's welcome Christian author and preacher's daughter Tammy Johnson to the blog today! She's here to talk about her novel Royal Rescue

Tammy will share details on how she creates her fictional characters, the writer life, how her faith in God affects her storytelling and why she cannot imagine not enjoying working as a published author regardless of the deadlines and demands. 

Tammy loves to hear from readers so when you reach the end of her visit today, please leave a comment.

Enjoy! :)

*Words from Alexis in bold, words from Tammy not in bold.

Alexis: Why did you write the book Royal Rescue?

Tammy: It has been my dream to write for many, many years. How Royal Rescue came to be is a long story. I’d been writing off and on for many years, but I’d always let life and fear get in the way. In the spring of 2014 I had been praying for wisdom to see if my life was on the right path and seeking help in what I should do about my future and financial situation.

Soon after on a Sunday in church the pastor mentioned that God really wanted us to use what was in our hand. I took that as an answer to my prayer that I should write again. When I got home from church that Sunday, I looked on the Harlequin forums to see if they had any writing contests coming up that I could work toward entering. (It had always been my dream to someday sell a book to Harlequin and I knew from past experiences they often had editor pitches and other contests for aspiring authors.) There I found the Killer Voices contest the Love Inspired Suspense line was having. It had already started, but I had a few weeks before the deadline of the first stage which was a first page. I knew I had to do it! Through every step of the way I felt God with me, telling me if I did it, He would bless it – and He sure did!

Share your character creation journey.

I usually create my characters from the inside out. I know the personality I want them to have and the person I want them to be. I develop their unique conflicts and details before I begin to flesh out their looks. I usually get my ideas from characters on TV or in the movies and like to set up Pinterest boards for inspiration on little details.

Who is the heroine in Royal Rescue? Describe her character traits, quirks, strengths and weaknesses.

Thea James is a princess in hiding who has found out it’s time to go home. Throughout the book her faith remains strong, even though it is challenged several times as she deals with fear. Through all the years she’s been hidden away for her own safety, she never gave up on the hope of her family being reunited. She is strong and independent and at times a little stubborn, but she is smart enough to know her own limits as well.

Let’s talk about your hero. What’s his name? What makes him a true hero? What are his flaws? What makes him perfect for the heroine?

Ronin Parrish is a man who will sacrifice anything and everything to protect those he cares for. He is on a mission in this story to regain honor that his family has lost by proving his father is innocent of the crime of killing the king, Thea’s father. Along the way he learns from Thea and realizes how important the faith he thought he’d lost can be. Thea and Ronin have an instant attraction, but more than that, they develop a respect and understanding of each other as their strength is tested by danger throughout their journey.

What was your favorite feature of writing this book?

During the Killer Voices contest, I loved having the deadlines that kept me motivated to keep writing. I also loved the friendships that I’ve formed with many of the other writers who entered. After I sold the book, I’ve made even deeper connections with other authors and have really enjoyed the friendships that have formed. When I look back on how Thea and Ronin began, I almost get teary eyed thinking of all they had to go through to find reach their happily ever after. I’d have to say that is one of my favorite parts of this book and every romance. I love the happily ever after.

Is there anything about the writing/publishing process you do not like?

I love writing when I’m actually writing. Getting to that place where I can actually write is sometimes not a lot of fun. I’m terrible at procrastinating, that’s something I’m working on. Being published is a dream come true and I can’t imagine ever not enjoying it.

How has writing this book brought joy or difficulty to your life (or has it)? Explain.

Writing Royal Rescue has been a huge blessing and brought me more joy than I could ever explain. Through the whole process I had a knowing like I’d never experienced before that God was with me and wanted to bless me. Through the process I realized I needed to do the work and stick to my writing and not let myself get discouraged.

What do you like the most about writing for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line? Share your story about how you started writing for that publisher.

I guess I already explained how I came to write for Love Inspired Suspense. I had always dreamed of writing for Harlequin and they are always on the lookout for new authors through the many contests and pitch events they provide. I love writing for Love Inspired because it gives me a chance to share my faith and hopefully inspire others in their faith as well. Plus, I get to share stories of love and what can be better than that?

Why do you choose to write romantic suspense and not another category of Christian fiction?

Writing for the suspense line gives me a chance to share thrills and danger and show how people can rely on their faith even during the scary times.

If you could spend a day with any of the characters in your book, who would it be and what would you do?

Share details and explain why. I formed an attachment with both Thea and Ronin. It was hard to be done with them and put them aside to work on other stories. I feel like I know them pretty well already, so if I had to pick someone, I think I’d spend the day with Ronin’s older brother, Jarrod. I hope to be working on his book soon and I’d love to pick his brain and see what makes him tick.

What was your go-to food or drink while writing Royal Rescue?

My go to so far have always been peanut butter M&M’s and a glass of sweet tea. I always have my tea while writing and chocolate makes me happy.

What do you want your readers to remember most about Royal Rescue?

I hope that everyone who reads Royal Rescue will come away from the story knowing they are special and important. The verse I chose for the story was, 2 Corinthians 6:18 which reads, "And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." I hope that every reader knows how loved and valuable they are to their father, God.

Now that you’ve published your first book, what’s next?

I’ve been working on the story for Thea’s brother, Leo. I hope to have it to my editor early this summer. I already have several other stories ideas for other characters who were in this book and others who weren’t. I hope to keep busy writing and enjoying every day of the life I’ve been blessed with.

Do you have any final comments?

Thank you so much for having me on the blog and for those who have read this far, thank you! If you read Royal Rescue, I hope you enjoyed it and that it sparked something in your heart.

Author bio: Two of Tammy Johnson's biggest dreams were being a mother and becoming a Harlequin author. After raising and homeschooling her four children up to high school, her writing dream came true when she sold her first book through the Love Inspired Suspense, Killer Voices pitch event. 

Raised as a preacher's kid, faith has always held an important place in her life. Tammy enjoys sharing her faith by writing stories of strong heroines and heroes who find strength in their beliefs to overcome danger and fear. She is a country girl at heart and lives in a small Kansas town with her teenage son and dachshund. She enjoys cloud watching and summer storms. A glass of sweet tea and a new story are never far away.

Blurb for Royal Rescue:


Hidden away for more than fourteen years, Thea James was presumed dead by most—killed in the fire that burned the royal palace. 

But Ronin Parrish knows the truth…and so does the person who murdered Thea's father, the king. Ronin takes his new duty as Thea's bodyguard seriously. After all, she's the only one who can clear his father of the king's murder. 

It doesn't matter that the princess's beauty and strength draw him to her. To a commoner like him, she can never be more than a mission. Now he's in a race to restore the princess to her rightful place on the throne before the unknown killer prematurely ends her reign.
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