Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interview with NYT bestselling authors, mother and son Iris & Roy Johansen-Sight Unseen

Please welcome New York Times bestsellers and the mother and son team of some great thrillers, Iris and Roy Johansen who are both here today to discuss their latest joint effort, Sight Unseen which brings back the Kendra Michaels character from not only their past collaborations but she also co-starred in some of Iris's Eve Duncan novels.
Sit back and enjoy my chat with mother and son!

  • ISBN-13: 9781250020529
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 382


She was safe in a world of darkness.
Now danger threatens in the cold light of day…
Before the experimental surgery that gave her sight, Kendra Michaels developed her other senses to an amazing capacity.  Now she can identify a Nissan by the sound of its engine, a Norelco electric razor by the pattern of stubble it leaves behind, or an obscure colorless fire accelerant by its sweet smell. Law enforcement agencies clamor for her rare powers of perception and observation, too often disrupting the life she has built helping others through music therapy.  Because so very often, only Kendra can get the job done. 

Iris and Roy Welcome to The Reading Frenzy!! I'm a fan of both your works and your collaborations.
Iris- Tell us a little about the new novel.
Thanks for having me!  SIGHT UNSEEN brings back Kendra Michaels, a character who has very quickly become a reader favorite.  We introduced her in CLOSE YOUR EYES, and she played a key role in my Eve Duncan thrillers SLEEP NO MORE and HUNTING EVE.  Kendra was blind for the first twenty years of her life, but she was given her sight by a revolutionary surgical procedure.  Now, using the other senses she developed during her sightless years (and the fact that she now takes nothing she sees for granted), Kendra helps the FBI on a variety of investigations.  In SIGHT UNSEEN she's is on the trail of a serial killer whose murders are patterned after Kendra's most famous cases.

Roy - Was bringing Kendra back a group effort?  And did you always know shed be coming back?
Very early in the writing of Kendra's first thriller, CLOSE YOUR EYES, we knew we'd be bringing her back.  We had such an amazing response to the character from agents and editors after we turned in the manuscript's first half, which made us feel even stronger that we were onto something special.  Our editor felt so strongly about Kendra that she wanted to see her again right away, which is why Kendra appeared in two Eve Duncan thrillers.  But this new book, SIGHT UNSEEN, finds Kendra back on her own turf, tracking a serial killer.

Roy -Ive read your and Iris novels before and am a huge fan.
How does the co-authoring actually work?
I'm sure it's different with each writing team, but my mother and I spend a lot of time talking about the characters and story before we even start writing.  Then we take turns and churn out chunks of perhaps 70-80 pages before turning it over to the other to continue.  While we may have the broad strokes worked out in advance, we leave room for improvising and finding entertaining details as we move along.  We're constantly surprising each other and sometimes even writing each other into corners, but that's probably why the books turn out so interesting and fun.

Iris - It seems like its a real family affair in your writing life.
You not only collaborate with Roy but your daughter helps with research too.
What is the best part of working with your children?
Every mother likes the chance to spend more time with her kids!

Roy - How old were you when you realized that writing was going to be a big part of your future?
I started writing stories almost from the time that I was able to put words on paper, but by the time I reached my early teens I knew it was going to be my life's work.  I've always enjoyed writing, whether it was short stories, plays, film reviews for my high school and college newspapers, or screenplays.

Iris - you write not only novels with Roy but also solo thrillers and your Eve Duncan series.
How do you keep all the characters in their own places?
In one sense, they DON'T stay in their places.  My gallery of characters weave in and out of my books, sometimes appearing as leads, sometimes as supporting players in other characters' books, sometimes just popping up in cameos.  My 2013 Eve Duncan trilogy featured most of my major characters joining forces for a common goal.  My editor called it my "Avengers."
It's actually easy for me to keep them all straight.  I take care to make each of my characters distinct and vivid when I create them, so there's no real danger of me or my readers confusing them.

Iris - What impresses you the most about Eve Duncan?
I admire Eve's ability to endure a personal tragedy and use it to turn her own life around.  She had a child who was abducted and murdered, which would destroy a lot of parents.  But Eve channeled her grief and rage into something constructive, and she became the best in her field.  That's my idea of a hero.

Roy - you won the Edgar Allen Poe award for the screenplay you wrote in college, Murder 101, which was eventually produced for cable and stared Pierce Brosnan. Congrats!
Do you think your murder writing gene came from your mom?
Most people don't know that I've actually been working in the mystery/suspense genre longer than she has!  I sold MURDER 101 just five years after my mother sold her first book, while she was still working in the romance genre.  But I should point out that she always had a lot of suspense and intrigue in those early romance books of hers.
Genes may play a part, but a more profound influence is probably the love of reading and storytelling that she instilled in me from the time that I was very young.  We spent a lot of time in libraries and bookstores.

Iris-  you are also a huge dog lover and readers in fact find four legged friends in many of your novels.
Are there only dogs in your family?
I presently have seven dogs, so things can certainly get quite hectic in my home.  But there are also several cats on my property, so I had some heated "Kitty Condos" constructed so that they can seek refuge on those cold winter nights.

Roy-  between novel and screenwriting do you have a favorite?
They each have strengths for me.  I love movies, so it's a thrill to craft a good screenplay.  But the process gets complicated very quickly when you involve producers, studio executives, directors and even actors.  It's a struggle to preserve what everyone liked about the script in the first place.  Then, of course, only a tiny fraction of purchased screenplays are actually produced.  I've spent years writing films that will never get made.
With books, it's a much more sane process.  My editor truly helps me make my work better, and I know that my work will actually get seen.

Will there be any fan events coming up? 
I'm hoping to attend the Military Book Fair in San Diego this November.  I've appeared at quite a few book festivals before, but this one sounds different: it takes place on the top deck of an aircraft carrier!

Not this time, regrettably.  We toured for CLOSE YOUR EYES, but we're both too busy to go on the road this year.  My mother has two solo books coming out in the next year, and we have another Kendra Michaels book to finish for a Summer 2015 release!

Good Luck to you both and thanks for stopping by! 

Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn’t Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve, Chasing the Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora’s Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust, and more.
Roy Johansen is an Edgar Award–winning author and the son of Iris Johansen. He has written many well-received mysteries, including Deadly Visions, Beyond Belief, and The Answer Man. 

Connect with Iris- Website - Facebook 
Connect with Roy- Website- Facebook - Twitter

The Iris and Roy Johansen collection



  1. New authors for me, and I just love the sound of this character Debbie..I need to read this :)

    1. Thanks Kimba. I'm surprised you haven't read Iris.

  2. You always do such great interviews Debbie! I loved this. :)

  3. Iris has been around for along time and this is the first time I feel I learned something about her. I love your interviews.
    As a team this is the first time I heard of it, thank you for putting them on my radar :)

    1. Yes a long time I remember her first romances (uh oh aging myself)
      Thanks Loupe it means a lot that what I do is appreciated :)