An Interview with Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson is the author of the book I’m reviewing this week, Vanishing Act.  She kindly allowed me to ask her a few interview questions for my readers!  I just want to thank her for that now.  Stay tuned for the book review!

1.  What first inspired you to write?  (Original question, I know.  Snort)

I don’t know that there’s any one thing that first inspired me to write. I’ve just always loved telling stories. I do believe that God has given me a passion and talent for writing, and it’s important to me to keep using it.

2.  How/where did you get the idea for Vanishing Act?

Vanishing Act really began with a character, Nate Andersen, who had a small role in my first book, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn. He really caught my attention, and I was so excited about telling his story. But it wasn’t until I pulled out an old story that I’d written in college, that I found the whole story about a girl on the run and a man intent on protecting her.

3.  Who is your favorite character in the book?  Why?

Hmmm … I guess Nate is my favorite. I love how he deals with the sins of his family. I mean, it’s horrible that he’s dealing with that, but his desire to be a man of integrity is so strong that I can’t help but love him.

4.  When will your next book be published?

My next book, Code of Justice, is scheduled to release in March 2011. Of course, that’s if I can finish the line edits on time. 🙂

5.  Do you work on one book at a time or several like me?

I typically do one book at a time. When I’m not on deadline, sometimes I’ll play around with a few different stories, but if I have to keep a schedule, I focus on whatever’s due first. If I try to write more than one at a time I get confused and sidetracked.

6.  What is the most rewarding part of writing?

The most rewarding part of writing is definitely seeing the finished manuscript. Even before it’s made into a book, just typing THE END makes me feel great! It’s such a feeling of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Of course, seeing the final product in bookstores is never bad either.

7.  What is the least enjoyable part of writing?

The least is definitely the start of the book. Sometimes it feels like torture just to get myself in front of my computer and actual writing. But that feeling passes.

8.  What genre do you enjoy reading that you’d never want to write?

I don’t know. I’d hate to say that I’d never want to write any genre. I read all sorts, and I write all sorts like YA, contemporary romance, historical, and I even have an idea for a futuristic dystopian society book. But I think it’s fair to say that if I were going to write a very literary novel, I probably wouldn’t be as good at it as other genres that I’ve tried.

9.  Do you control your characters or do they dictate parts or all of the story?

I certainly control the outcome of the story. I know where we’re going, once we start. But there have been several times when a character is doing something out of character and demands a change.

10.  What advice would you give aspiring/struggling authors?

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve been learning this year and want to pass along is to have FUN! Yes, writing is a business. Yes, it requires a lot of work. But if you focus only on those things, you miss out on the pure joy of writing something that you love reading. So write what you want to read. Write what makes you smile.

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Book Review: Vanishing Act

Book: Vanishing Act

Author: Liz Johnson

Publisher’s Synopsis: Eighteen months ago, Nora James watched as her father was shot in an alley—and then she fl ed. She changed her name, her appearance and her job, hoping to keep her father’s shooter at bay. For months, it worked…but now her luck has run out. A ruthless assassin is on her trail, and soon Nora, now known as Danielle, will be found. But this time, she has FBI agent Nate Andersen by her side—right? The handsome agent would give his life to protect Danielle, but he’s wary of giving his heart…until a deadly confrontation leaves him with both on the line.

I’ll confess, when I read the back of this book, I expected to be able to predict the plot, the twists, and the outcome.  While I did peg the “bad guy” almost immediately, I did not figure out the rest.  That alone gives this book a thumbs up.  That leaves one more thumb to go, right?  Well, how about the fact that the characters are interesting, the plot is engaging and the spiritual encouragement is right on the nose for the primary area that the women I know usually talk about?  What is it?  Fear.  This book is a mini gold-mine of reminders that our fears are not bigger than the God who can conquer them for us and through us.

Yes, the book is a romance.  Thankfully, Liz Johnson isn’t so sappy that I gag reading her– sappier than I usually am, but then so are most writers.  The main characters have a relationship that gets intense a little early, but considering the situation, their personalities, and their personal issues, it makes sense.  It fits.  And, once the book was over, I realized that it takes place over a longer period of time than I’d realized as I read it.  Hey, sometimes I just get lost in a story and miss little details like how many days or weeks have passed.  Sue me.

And, isn’t that the point of a book?  To get lost in the story?  Isn’t that what makes a good book?  So, for that I give the book my other thumbs up.  Both thumbs waggle in the air cheerfully.  This book is a great read, nice and suspenseful, but light enough that it never feels like a chore to keep your mind on the plot.  That says everything.

I apologize.  I usually give away the books I review, but this book is mine.  Ms. Johnson kindly signed it to me and it’s going right next to another book of hers on my shelf.  I’ll read it again…  That should also say a lot.  So, go zip over to Amazon, snag you a copy of this nice inexpensive book, wait impatiently for the UPS truck, grab your beverage of choice (I recommend Coke), find a bag of Reese’s Pieces somewhere, and curl up in your favorite reading spot.  It might not hurt to throw something in the crockpot first.  I guarantee you’re not going to want to put it down to go make dinner.

Blog Review: The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Title: The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Author: Liz Johnson

Publisher Synopsis: Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.

Well, first of all, I have a confession to make.  When this book arrived, I read the back and groaned.  I was so frustrated, discouraged, and a million other feelings rolled into one trigger happy finger ready to hit the ‘delete’ key on my laptop.  I thought, from reading the synopsis, that my latest idea had been pre-empted by Ms. Johnson and it was hard to open that cover.  I knew it’d be good.  (Pride alone said that if I had the idea too, of course I’d consider it good whether or not it truly was!)

Well, it was good.  The story was interesting, engaging, and thankfully spun in a completely different direction and with a different goal in mind than my story.  I can still write it!  (And I have been)

Kenzie is spunky, caring, and has a love of the Lord that shines in her eyes.  I love the character, I love what she’s doing with her life, and I love the story.  This is one of those, “if I talk too much, I’ll give it away” stories, but suffice it to say, it kept me smiling, laughing, and cheering.  I loved the added mystery, the action, and the repartee.  Liz Johnson does some great repartee when she has a mind to.

Seriously, go to Amazon.  Do not go past the sleep button on your computer, do not collect a dozen other books (unless you just really want to) but get there and pre-order this book.  It’ll be shipped to you the day it’s released.  July 14, 2009.  You’ll have it in time to read it to celebrate my birthday.  Buy yourself a cupcake or a donut… stick a candle in it, blow it out, eat said cupcake, and read a book.  It’ll be like having a party all over the nation!  Come on… you know you want to read it.

P.S.  I regret to say *cough* that I cannot give away my copy.  Unfortunately, *cough* Ms. Johnson has signed it to me and therefore wouldn’t make sense sitting on your shelf.  So *cough* sorry.