Today Suspense Sisters welcomes new Love Inspired Suspense author, Tammy Johnson! Tammy is giving away a copy of ROYAL RESCUE, her debut novel. Please leave a comment with your contact information to enter the drawing.
Two of Tammy Johnson's biggest dreams were being a mother and becoming a Harlequin author. After raising and homeschooling her four children up to high school, her writing dream came true when she sold her first book through the Love Inspired Suspense, Killer Voices pitch event.
Raised as a preacher's kid, faith has always held an important place in her life. Tammy enjoys sharing her faith by writing stories of strong heroines and heroes who find strength in their beliefs to overcome danger and fear. She is a country girl at heart and lives in a small Kansas town with her teenage son and dachshund. She enjoys cloud watching and summer storms. A glass of sweet tea and a new story are never far away.
SS: Tell us a little about yourself.
HI! I am really excited to be here. I’m a mother of four, but only have one at home with me still. The other three grew up on me and are off building their own lives and chasing their dreams. My oldest is turning thirty this year and my youngest is a straight A sophomore in high school. I homeschooled all my children until they started high school. After that, I began working at a local elementary school as a paraeducater to special needs children. I have always lived in Kansas and love it here. I wouldn’t trade the small town/rural life for anything!
SS: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
It’s hard to know for sure when I realized I wanted to write. I’ve been making up stories in my mind since I was a child, but never really thought about writing them down until I discovered my first romance book when I was in my late twenties. I’m fifty-one now, so that was a long time ago.
SS: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? Are there aspects of your life that are hard for family and friends to understand? What are they?
My biggest challenge is probably self-discipline and overcoming my procrastination tendencies. It’s not always that I don’t have the time - I just need to learn to manage the time I have better. It’s just me and my teenage son at home now and he has been very supportive. He loves writing also and has helped me brainstorm many aspects of stories. The hardest thing for him to understand is probably the fact that I write like I shop. I have to go through many different ideas before I settle on the one I think will work. I might end up going with the first idea, but first I have to make sure there isn’t a better idea that I just haven’t thought of it. My thought process really annoys him sometimes.
SS: What genre do you write and why? Are there other genres you’ve written or would like to try?
I write Inspirational Romantic Suspense and now that I’ve finally found a place where I fit with Love Inspired Suspense, I can’t imagine writing anything else. When I first started writing, I wrote contemporary and tried many Harlequin lines. I love category romance and writing for Harlequin has always been my dream. It’s amazing the way doors opened and I was able to take my writing in a new direction with the Killer Voices pitch event last spring. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn’t think of writing Inspirational Romance a lot sooner. I can only guess that I had a lot to learn first both in my writing and about my faith. God had to bring me through some things and teach me a lot before I could share faith in the way he wanted. I’m thrilled to have finally found a home for my writing.
SS: How do you create characters? Are they based on people you know?
Creating characters is one of my favorite things about writing. I usually start with one unique trait or idea about the character and build from there. I think so far all my characters have been little pieces of me mixed with other qualities and personalities. I enjoy watching actors and actresses on TV and picking up on little quirks that I can write into a character. Like the look that Beckett will flash Castle to show annoyance, humor or any other emotion. (on Castle) It’s so much fun trying to think of a way to carry that look over to words so people see that in their minds when they read. I love my Pinterest boards and spend too much time pinning people I come across who I think I can use when I start blending and inventing characters.
SS: Tell us about your current release.
ROYAL RESCUE is my debut book. I sold it through the Killer Voices pitch even
A PRINCESS IN PERIL
Hidden away for more than fourteen years, Thea James was presumed dead by most; killed in the fire that burned the royal palace. But Ronin Parrish knows the truth; and so does the person who murdered Thea's father, the king. Ronin takes his new duty as Thea's bodyguard seriously. After all, she's the only one who can clear his father of the king's murder. It doesn't matter that the princess's beauty and strength draw him to her. To a commoner like him, she can never be more than a mission. Now he's in a race to restore the princess to her rightful place on the throne before the unknown killer prematurely ends her reign.
SS: Where did you get the idea for this book?
I found out about the Killer Voices pitch even about a week before the deadline to enter the first page. So, I scrambled to come up with something I thought might work. I’d have to give God all the credit for helping me through. I had never considered writing a suspense story before and a lot of praying was involved. I knew I wanted to have a heroine who was strong (I LOVE strong heroines), yet weak in knowing who to trust and struggling with accepting her place as royalty. I think parts of the story came from my own struggles with accepting my own value as a child of God. The word ‘princess’ to me had always made me feel a little squirrely. I was always a tomboy and not the dress up, wear pink and be all frilly sort of girl. Princess to me meant weak and delicate. Throughout writing the story I knew that it was something my heroine dealt with as well and that many women deal with. I knew the royalty theme might not appeal to all, but I felt it was something that needed to be said and shared.
SS: Tell us about your main character.
Thea James (aka Dorthea Jamison) has been hidden away for more than half her life. She’s lived looking over her shoulder, never feeling safe and never having the home and family she longs for. As a child she witnessed her father, the king’s, murder and is only safe as long as the killer believes she’s dead. When the truth leaks out, the only way to stay alive is to trust a stranger and return home. Along the journey she learns all about accepting who she is.
Ronin Parrish was brought up in a home of Royal Guardsmen. It’s in his blood to protect the royal family at any cost. When given the chance to rescue the long lost princess and bring her home, he knows his success will not only save her, but also his father who has been wrongfully imprisoned all these years for the king’s murder.
SS: Is there a spiritual message in your book? If so, what is it?
Thea’s faith was always strong, but she battled with committing totally to being who she was born to be. Ronin struggled with faith, but in his journey through the book he finally allows himself to believe again and accept that he can’t control everything in his own strength.
I hope there are many layers throughout the story of issues we deal with, but the biggest message I hope comes across is that we are all children of the King and need to believe in the value we have to our Father.
SS: What are you working on now?
I’ve been working on Thea’s brother’s story. I hope to have it finished soon and get it submitted. I have at least one other story from Thea’s family and a few others from characters in the story, but that will be down the road. I hope they all get to be read some day.
SS: Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’m a closet Browncoat and Whovian. (maybe not so much closet anymore?) I am a grown up preacher’s kid and moved once a year throughout my entire childhood. I didn’t enjoy a new school every year, but now I can see it made me who I am and I’m happy for it.
When driving, I slow down for squirrels and yard sales. (I love them both) I think that would make a perfect bumper sticker.
SS: Favorite TV shows?
I love to character watch through programs on TV. I’ll try almost any crime drama once, but it has to really grab me with so many out there to choose from. I am a fan of Castle, Bones and Elementary. I watch a lot of other programs just to ‘character’ watch and I’m a fan of a lot of the super hero, sci-fi stuff as well.
SS: Anything special you eat or drink while you’re writing?
I go through cycles of chocolate and salt, so usually I have peanut butter M&M’s or potato chips nearby when I’m deep in writing. In a pinch (or sometimes just because) I’ve brought out the peanut butter and chocolate chips. First you dip a spoon in the peanut butter, then the chocolate chips. Yummy! Writing or not, I almost always have a glass of sweet tea within arm’s reach. Sweet tea is my weakness and probably the reason for the added inches.
SS: How do you celebrate after completing a book?
I celebrated completing Royal Rescue by going out to eat with my kids and giving myself some online gaming time that I’d stayed away from while writing. I’ve started a wish list of small things I’d like to reward myself with when I finish the next one, but mostly it’s a huge reward to have managed to complete a book.
SS: Where can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m looking forward to hearing from readers. It still boggles my mind that people might actually read Royal Rescue. I love hearing what people think of the book and seeing pictures of it on the shelves or in its new home. I can be found at:
twitter - @tammyjtammy
SS: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
April 1st I’ll be participating in a Facebook release day party with the other ladies who sold through the Killer Voices pitch event and other Love Inspired Authors. Details can be found on my author Facebook page and website. I’m also planning a locket giveaway to run through the month of April. Inside the locket it says – I am a princess not because I have a prince, but because my Father is King. If Royal Rescue does nothing else, I hope it sparks this truth in someone’s life.