AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CAT JOHNSON
I have cornered one of my favorite authors of hot cowboy and military alpha romances….
Welcome Cat Johnson!
Hmm, this question isn’t as straightforward as you would think but I’ll do my best… My recent releases are actually re-releases of my out of print backlist being put out, reworked, expanded and with fresh covers by Samhain Publishing. Trey (Red, Hot & Blue, Book 1) is the latest of those through Samhain.
But if we’re talking the most recent release, that would be Crossing the Line, a contemporary military romance originally published by Linden Bay, and re-released on July 4th on Amazon.com as a Kindle exclusive with me as the publisher. After all the talk about authors putting out their own books on Kindle without the benefit of a publisher, I thought I’d conduct an experiment and try it with one of my out of print backlist. (Please let us know how the experiment goes Cat!)
Tell us a little about Crossing the Line, what inspired you to write it?
Back in 2006, when I first started writing military romance, I immersed myself as much as possible in the military community online. It helped with research. That was when I met deployed soldiers and Marines through the troop support site Books for Soldiers. Crossing the Line is based on the real life detachment to Djibouti of my Marine friends’ squadron.
You were one of the writers from Linden Bay, has the transition to Samhain been easy or a struggle? Also is there a way to still get some of your older books?
It was a very scary time in my career and I shed a few tears the morning the Linden Bay website went off-line for good, along with my two-dozen or so books. But as I mentioned above, Samhain and I are working to get the backlist, in its new and improved format, back out there.
The first priority was the cowboy threesomes. Rough Stock and Unridden (Studs in Spurs, Book 1) from LBR, and the new release Bucked (Studs in Spurs, Book 2), are all available in eBook now and will all be out in print by the end of the year.
The next priority was the Task Force Zeta military series. This has been renamed the Red, Hot & Blue series and book 1, Trey, is already out in eBook. The next two, Jack and then Jimmy, are coming in August and October.
At Samhain I have an editor I love, I’ve been blessed by the cover gods with great covers, my sales (even on the re-releases) have been phenomenal, and the many new readers I’ve found are truly wonderful and supportive. All in all it was a good change, though a little stressful at first. My only complaint is that I wish I could get the backlist out there faster.
To answer the second part of your question about where to get my out of print works, right now readers will have to wait a bit for the later Task Force Zeta novels such as True Blue, A Few Good Men, Model Soldier and A Prince Among Men. There are still a few paperback copies for sale from used booksellers. I’ve seen them on Craig’s List, eBay and Amazon.com at prices up to $999. Not that anyone would pay that outrageous price but even for lesser amounts, please do NOT pay a lot of money for a used book. The author and the pub see none of it. I promise, I will get that backlist out to you as soon as I can.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I definitely have a firm idea of the basic plot points, but all the stuff in the middle that supports the story, the little events, that just kind of flows during the writing, driven by the characters.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
My very first published romance was a short story about a computer geek. That morphed into a romantic comedy trilogy that became the out of print Opposites Attract. While writing that, I asked my editor if she’d be interested in a military romance since I was enjoying reading Suzanne Brockmann and Alison Kent. She said sure and Task Force Zeta in Red, Hot & Blue was born. THEN I mentioned to her some of the funny things that were happening to me here on my little farm and she suggested a farm trilogy. Smalltown, USA was my first cowboy book, kind of a warm up for my later cowboy works. So yeah, I’m morphing…
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I really do love Chase, the young rookie bull rider. I must since he appears in Unridden, Bucked, the upcoming Ride and his short story 8 Second Ride. He is totally based on my cowboy consultant Mike.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
I wouldn’t say I don’t like her, but I look back at Sage in Bucked and I wish she was more assertive, more, I don’t know, just more… The way I wrote her fit the character perfectly. She is very young, and maybe that is why I have issues with her. I’m looking at life from the point of view of a 43-year-old woman, but I wrote her as a 20 year old. Her actions are appropriate for her, but sometimes I just want to shove her aside and take over, you know? But I’m a control freak like that. LOL.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Well it is no secret that a lot of my stories are taken from the real life experiences of my consultants. I copy and paste actual instant messenger conversations with my cowboy and military friends into the dialogue of the books. Some of the scenes in Unridden where Slade and Mustang talk to the romance writer Jenna are actual conversations between my bull-riding consultant Mike and me. Including the one where she asks if he wears a “cup” for protection while riding. LOL. Hey! I needed to know and some things you just can’t find with Google.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I got a tattoo (a tramp stamp, actually) the year I turned 35.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Watching bad television. (made her define this one he he) Marathons of programs such as Real Housewives of New York, The Millionaire Matchmaker and other “high quality” TV programs…
What do you need before you start writing?
I find it really helps to have the title before starting to write. I don’t outline, but having the title and the main characters’ names, really gives me a vision of where I want to go.
Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Inner peace? Seriously though, if I’m feeling out of sorts, I simply can’t be creative or write. I spent about 2 stressful weeks around Christmas/New Years last year not writing a word and cooking up a storm to keep myself busy.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
The strange thing is I can work with the TV on but any music whatsoever is like nails on a chalkboard while I’m trying to write. That said, I live in no-man’s land so I drive a lot and I listen to the radio while driving. The lyrics to songs have inspired stories. 8 Second Ride, my Studs in Spurs Free Read (available at allromanceebooks.com) was totally inspired by “Good Lord Willing” by Little Big Town. The moment I heard the song the scene was clear in my mind. The title came from the song “8 Second Ride” by Jake Owen.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Hmm this is hard! For the bull riders I keep picturing the actual pros I watch ride, but since they’re not actors, that probably would be a bad idea. I think I could put a hat and some chaps on Eric Bana and he could be a convincing bull rider for Slade in Unridden. I could picture Josh Holloway (from “Lost”) as Mustang from Unridden and Bucked. And after an informal Facebook poll, the general consensus is that Sandra Bullock would make a great Jenna for Unridden.
For the military series, Ben Afleck or Paul Walker would make great tough SpecOp guys, as would Vin Deisel.
You do realize I had to Google “sexy men” to find these guys’ names! Yeah, I’m pitifully out of touch.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
My first ever contract was for a YA series about 2 weeks after graduating college and I think I told absolutely everyone. Those were the days when you talked to editors in person. But my first romance contract was in 2006 and I was, of course, at my laptop and the notification was by email. Being older and wiser, or perhaps just more jaded and skittish, I told pretty much no one until the contract was signed by both parties and in my hand.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I think I was really, really young. Like maybe 11? All I know is it was one of those thin little Silhouettes with the white covers. When the author wrote, “they made light love” I was so young I thought that meant kissing.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
Ride (Studs in Spurs, Book 3), Chase’s book, is written and awaiting editing and a release date with Samhain. I’m also continuing to rework the military series to get that back out there. And I have a new cowboy threesome unrelated to any series that I am still playing with. It’s giving me some problems. The heroine is a bit of a bitch. I wonder where she gets that from? LOL.
Where can readers find you?
Here are some links of where I am on the web and if all else fails, Google and I’ll come up, along with some poor watercolor artist by the same name. LOL.
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cat-Johnson/22569689927
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark chocolate is my new favorite because, you know, it’s a health food! Science said so.
Thanks so much for having me! It was a joy!