Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Linda O. Johnston to the blog.
Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
I’m Linda O. Johnston. I used to be a transactional real estate lawyer but I’m now a full-time writer. I write both mysteries and romantic suspense, and I’ve also written paranormal and time-travel romance. I have written four mystery series: the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series and the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. I’m also currently writing for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. And nearly all my recent stories include dogs!
Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
I’m addicted to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Right now, my Cavaliers are Mystie, a Blenheim (red and white color) and Cari, a tricolor. They’re my babies!
My first mystery series was the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries. Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her tricolor Cavalier, Lexie. At the time, I was also a practicing lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills, and Lexie was our tricolor Cavalier. Unfortunately, our Lexie is no longer with us.
So far, none of my other stories have included Cavaliers, but that could always change!
Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?
The protagonists in my mysteries always are owned by dogs. In my current mystery series, the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, the protagonist Carrie, a veterinary technician who also owns a barkery where she sells the healthy treats she’s developed, as well as a human bakery, has a dog named Biscuit, a golden toy poodle-terrier mix who hangs out a lot in the barkery and accompanies Carrie most other places she goes.
Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
When I was a child I had a brindle Boston Terrier named Frisky. Frisky was frisky! I really loved her, and she inspired me to want to become a veterinarian, though that didn’t happen for many reasons. But she did help to increase my addiction to dogs.
How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?
The animals, primarily dogs, in my writing are characters in their own right, though I don’t get into their points of view. But they’re there for their owners, who are the major characters in my stories, providing emotional support, humor and love.
Why do you include animals in your writing?
Because I love animals, especially dogs! They add so much to people’s lives, whether they’re pets or just there inspiring us to help them and to be better people.
Do you have any working or service animals in your stories? Tell us about them.
K-9s and service dogs show up sometimes in my stories, In Second Chance Solder, my first K-9 Ranch Rescue story for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, the story takes place at–what else?–a ranch where dogs are trained to be possible police K-9s. The hero Evan Colluro is a former military K-9 trainer and moves to the ranch with his former military K-9 Bear to help train the pups there. The sequel to this story is Trained To Protect, which also takes place at the K-9 ranch. There will also be a spin-off series soon about rescues, but I’m not sure how many K-9s will be involved there.
When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?
I suppose I’ve always known I was a writer. I started my first book, which remains unfinished, in high school, and I always enjoyed assignments where we had to write an essay or anything else.
The professions I’ve had also involve writing: advertising, public relations, and transactional lawyering–yes, contracts are a form of creative writing! I started getting short stories, then novels, published when I was a practicing attorney, and got up an hour earlier than anyone else in my household so I could write before getting the kids ready for school.
What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why?
Well, my husband and I have been talking about the possibility of taking an African safari–which, these days, is fortunately to see and photograph animals, not harm them in any way. Why? Because I love animals, and this could be an amazing experience!
What do your pets do when you are writing?
Mystie and Cari hang out with me, or with my husband, or stand on our front porch looking out the locked gate and telling me when other dogs walk by–or when one of our wonderful neighbors arrives with treats for them. When they want something, such as to go outside or for me to open the front door or anything else, one or the other of them will come into my office, sit down beside my chair, and just stare at me. Or sometimes Mystie will bark at my shoes in the kitchen to let me know she wants to go out.
What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?
I can’t count the number of TBR piles in my house, or the number of books in them, but you can be sure that most of them involve dogs!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Just do it! Write! It’ll come to you even if you think you don’t know how. The other thing I’d suggest is to join one or more of the many writing organizations, particularly those specializing in the genre you want to write in, and attend as many chapter meetings as you can. Writers are very supportive of each other.
Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series for Midnight Ink. Her fifth and final book in the series, For a Good Paws, is a May 2019 release. She has also written Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Pet Rescue Mystery Series and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and nearly all her current stories involve dogs.u!
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