Hello ladies and gents! Jenny here! A little while back I had you compile your questions for our fabulous author to answer. Well this week's interview is from you the readers! Make sure you see what she said to all your questions!
Question 1 (from CJ Edhouse)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
To be honest, I’m very happy with where I live right now. I love my beautiful country and I feel that my current location is a little slice of paradise. I have a beautiful view and peaceful environment, what more could a writer ask for? *smiles* failing this, I would choose another secluded spot. A cottage on a private beach or a secluded cabin in the woods, perhaps a cabin by a lake. I find nature a wonderful motivator.
Question 2 (from CJ Edhouse)
If you could become any animal, which would you choose?
*Laughs* I’m afraid this won’t come as much of a surprise. My two favorite animals are leopards and tigers. I love all feline animals but those two are right at the top of the list. I have a soft spot for the snow leopard in particular. Such a beautiful and alluring animal.
It is also the only one of the big cats that is missing the hyoid bone in its throat. (Which makes it closely related to a domestic housecat) it means it can produce a true purr by rolling air across its vocal chords and it cannot roar. Other leopards can make a purring sort of sound when relaxed, a sort of snore. However it is different from the snow leopard. I love that this particular leopard is unique.
Question 3 (from Andrea Boyde)
What is the earliest story you remember writing?
When I was in primary/elementary school I got an achievement certificate for a story I wrote. It was about an alien that landed on earth by mistake. He was frightened by the humans and couldn’t seem to communicate with them. So he made a tunnel underground until he had gone far from the cities and towns, and built himself a safe place to live there.
My first attempt at writing a “chapter book”, as we referred to them in our childhood, was when I was about eleven. It was a mystery thriller about a girl who avoided being abducted on her way home from school by outwitting her possible kidnapper.
Question 4 (from Lori Toshek)
How true to life are the character traits you’ve used, to you, your friends and your family?
Like any author, I find character inspiration in almost anyone I meet. Never a complete ensemble of course. I borrow this person’s tinkling laugh and add it to that person’s kind nature and someone else’s need for order/organization. I also find that I’m inspired by singular moments. A single smile by a stranger in the street can bring something to life in my mind. I always add my own spin though, no one character can ever be attributed to just one person in my life. It is a complicated web. A cocktail of personality traits, looks, interests, mannerisms and Johanna Rae magic.
Question 5 (from Lori Toshek)
Which city would you choose to do your first book tour?
Wow now there’s a nice thought! If I was ever lucky enough to have a book tour, I would probably start with the USA as while my readers are global, that is my biggest concentration of interest. Since that is on the other side of the world I would try to make the most of the trip by choosing cities that offer events such as Comicon, Dragoncon, and Romance Novel Conventions. I would love to start in either New York or Atlanta.
Question 6 (from anonymous)
You always talk about Muse when you post about your writing. How important is that and is it always that same band?
Muse is my favourite band but it also happens to be the driving force behind the leading male in my Therian Secrets series, Danny Archer. He has two songs in particular, Hysteria and Endlessly. Whenever I hear those two songs, no matter where I am, his character jumps to the front of my mind ready to be written. I have an entire playlist comprised only of Muse songs and it is what I play most often when writing about the Therians.
However, that being said… certain characters do not gel with Muse. I find that Luke Fletcher likes Seether, Blackberry Wednesday, Switchfoot and Imagine Dragons. Leon Ross likes rap and hiphop, while Eddie Pirini likes easy listening and pop. All my characters have their own style, therefore requiring their own music to get kick-started.
In another story I’m working on (Stronger than Blood) I have a character, an angel, who really challenged my boundaries. He requires all sorts of bands I would never have listened to prior to awakening him. (Aerosmith, Nirvana, Breaking Benjamin, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam). There is no telling what the characters in my brain may demand next. *grins*
Question 7 (from Amber Liddell)
What inspires/drives you to write about certain characters? (Or to write in general).
Much of my inspiration comes from music. Sometimes it only takes one line in a song for me to come up with an entire scene, perhaps a whole novel. My brain expands on the emotion created from those notes and lyrics, putting together pieces of plot like a jigsaw puzzle. This is probably my primary source of inspiration. As I said in question 6, different bands and music genre call to different characters.
I am also inspired by locations. The entire initial concept for the Therian Secrets series was sparked by a visit to my hometown. (Much of the fictional town of Redcliffe is based on my home town, though I have used a great deal of creative licence to perfect it to my needs and keep it unique).
Inspiration really does hit you when you least expect it. I was at the base of the cliffs at the Whakatane Heads, and gazed up thoughtfully. Having explored the top of those cliffs I knew that many years ago before the settlers came to NZ, there was a Maori Pa up there. (A village). I thought about how there could be an entire community up there and you would never know from down at the beach where I was sitting. It made me think of all sorts of secrets and forbidden things that could lurk there… and I began to infuse that notion with my love for the paranormal. The more the idea grew in my mind the more I knew writing about it was a must, no longer a want. Characters began to emerge and the rest is history.
Question 8 (from Amber Liddell)
Do you plan your writing beforehand?
I never outline at all. I don't spend hours writing down character details and plot ideas the way that some authors do, I find that it stifles my creativity. I think this is because I’m a very character driven author. Once the characters have residence in my brain, they start to think they have full control in the driver’s seat. *laughs* I have a basic idea in my mind… usually a starting and finishing point. Sometimes I have a few key events in between. It is the characters that decide how and when they will arrive at those points, and no coaxing on my part will push them in a direction they don’t want to go.
Often I have no idea what the small details will be until they are immortalized on the page in front of me. Sometimes I end up with such a different result than I expected, that I sit there in amazement, thinking: “Wow, I wrote this?” I like to think that this is both an advantage and a gift. I love that I don’t know every moment in advance, it’s like an adventure! I also don’t tend to write in chronological order. I have to write the scenes that scream the loudest, first. Sometimes I start in the middle and write a few sections, then I have to link it up and go back to write the beginning/end.
Question 8 (from Nikki Cameron).
Your writing has always covered many genres, what inspired you to lean towards shape-shifting and do you see yourself ever foraging into a general (everyday/romance) type of book to get published?
I have enjoyed a number of paranormal books over the years. Many were about vampires or shape-shifters. There seemed to be a pattern. Either there were all manners of creatures, including vampires and shape-shifters, or you got a singular group. (Vampires OR shape-shifters). I noticed a lot of the books focused on one animal. A high percentage were wolves, and there were a few about leopards. None seemed to be anything like what I wanted.
The only books that had multiple animal types had other sorts of supernatural creatures too. I also felt that it would be interesting if there was more than just were-wolves, were-tigers, were-leopards etc. I wanted a different sort of shifter. So when I became inspired as in question seven, all of these ‘wants’ came into play and I began to create it.
Question 9 (from Nicola Montford)
Do you ever forget the characters you’ve made, or are they always a part of you?
Yes, they will always remain a part of me. Whether or not the story makes it to print, whether it’s a singular book or a series, all the characters stay inside me. I guess it’s because every single one has a piece of my heart, part of myself in them. Some more than others, but all special to me. When others are able to share my stories and enjoy those characters too, it brings them to life even more for me.
Question 9 (from Janice Thomas)
Was the Therians your first attempt at writing a book or did you write something else first?
I have four other books hidden away. Three of them will probably never see the light of day, but it is nice to look back at them and see how far I’ve come. I still think fondly of those characters, no matter how many flaws there were in the writing. I do have one which I think could be rewritten and published one day, but it is in a series of handwritten notebooks. It will be a big project and I’ll need to have a free schedule to achieve it.
Question 10 (from Robyn Mitchell)
Where do you get the inspirations for the different Therians animals and their personalities?
In the beginning I tried hard to balance the animal types to give the story a well-rounded feel. Matching the character’s personalities and animals wasn’t difficult, when inspiration hit with this series, it really hit hard. *laughs* the basic formation of the characters just sort of happened, but I was careful with the tweaking and minor details to flesh out the world of Redcliffe. Some of the newer characters arrived in a much less hurried fashion and slowly materialized, taking shape in a whole new way.
I have in the past asked friends and readers what sort of animals they’d like to see and why. Hearing the responses is almost a form of inspiration in itself. It doesn’t take much of an idea to build on when you have the world and story base behind you already. I think I had the most fun with Eddie. His animal is a fictional one. I invented a species of giant water lizard that modern scientists had not discovered yet. I likened him to the Komodo dragon and the tuatara.
Question 11 (from anonymous)
Do you ever have trouble with time management? How hard is it to find time to write?
Given that I’m a busy wife and mother of three young children, yes! My family and motherhood commitments always come first and I love that. I’m very lucky to have a fully supportive husband, and children who are so excited about what I do, even though they are too young to read it. I try to make time for editing and self-promotion during the daytime while the kids are at school, then I do my fresh writing at night when my husband is watching TV or after he’s gone to bed. Sometimes that needs to be juggled around a bit though to make sure I give everyone enough of my time.
Question 12 (from Maxine Patterson)
When are you coming to visit and can you bring some yummy donuts?
Maxine, it’s been too long. *laughs again* I will try to make a trip to Tauranga soon and I promise to stop at the bakery on the way to your place.
If you have not read Johanna’s shapeshifter series (Therian Secrets) and would like to know more, please check out the book trailers below for The Mercenary and The Fury.
Also you can find Johanna here: