Ask the Author: J.R. Johansson

What would you like readers to know about you? 

Right now I’d like them to know that I just started a podcast this past winter called Riveting Reads and that they can get the entire first season now on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. It’s been so much fun and has been listened to so far in 53 different countries which was extremely exciting to be a part of.  

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

Well, I have 5 books out in English with the 6th on the way this year and 6 already out in Spanish so…I guess I will just answer that my books are all tense, page-turning thrillers that will hopefully keep you guessing and wondering up through the climax of the story. I have one series about a boy who spends each night trapped in the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with (The Night Walkers Series: INSOMNIA, PARANOIA, and MANIA) as well as three standalone thrillers: CUT ME FREE, THE ROW and TO THE BONES. 


What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

Since it is coming out this year, I’ll answer this about TO THE BONES. This one is about a group of teens who go on a tour of the off-limits section of the Paris catacombs and when their guide is crushed in a cave-in they have no idea how to find their way back to the surface. My inspiration was that I’ve gone to a couple of different writing retreats and signings in Paris and was first able to visit the Ossuary (the officially sanctioned visitors area in the catacombs) and then later I took a guided tour of the off-limits section as well. The atmosphere and location was so creepy and surreal and strange and wonderful that I couldn’t stop myself from creating a story to tell in that place. 

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

This is easy. About 1/3 into every story that I write, I hate it and I want to quit. This happens every single time and I have learned to expect it now. Even if I think it’s terrible, even if I don’t like anything about it, I just have to keep writing and eventually, I’ll move through that part. The last 1/3 of the book is THE BEST. I LOVE writing that part. It comes so easily to me. I know exactly what I want to do by that point. I know the story, I know the characters. It is just a matter of getting it from my head onto the page and then making it shine. It’s by far my favorite part of any story to write. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

The advice that I would give is to not make progress impossible by dreaming of perfection. In other words, give yourself permission to suck. I know it’s hard, but I have to do it with every first draft I write. I have to remind myself that yes…this is bad right now, but that’s okay. First drafts aren’t supposed to be great. Revisions are where I make a story shine. That’s where I take the bad out and make it what I wanted it to be. Before that though, just get it down on the page and know that it doesn’t matter if it is bad. It is just the starting point, not the finish line. Get the whole book down in a first draft form…then work on turning it into what you know it can be.  


Purchase link: Insomnia 

PARANOIA coming summer 2020 






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