**THE ROW BY J.R. JOHANSSON**
She is represented by the stellar Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Blog Tour organized by: YA Bound Book Tours
The Row by J.R. Johansson
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: October 11th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth. Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.
Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders.
He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.
*Who’s your favorite football team?
I’m an absolute freak about the Green Bay Packers. I never miss a game. I usually go out to Green Bay for several games a year, I own stock in the organization, and I helped my son decorate his entire room green and yellow. 😉
Cheesehead, eh? I’m a 49er’s fan!
*What initially drew you to write?
The first time I sat down and started writing, I did it as an escape. My life was stressing me out and I had this idea in my mind that just wouldn’t go away. I thought maybe if I wrote it down, it might help, so I did. Not only did it help my stress, but I found something I loved more than I ever would have imagined.
I had the same experience. Beginning with simple escapism in poetry then morphing into full blown fiction.
*Why have you chosen to write YA?
Teen years are so formative. They are one of the first times we all start trying to identify and establish ourselves and our independence. We begin to figure out who we are and create and define ourselves. I think we continue to do that again and again at various points for the rest of our lives and so it’s easy to identify with. I love writing characters in that kind of flux and transition. It creates beautifully poignant conflict and tension.
Wonderful! Conflict and tension is the name of the game.
*How do you craft your characters?
I try to start with someone real and flawed and then try to get into their heads. I create their backstory and try to figure out what having a history like the one I gave them would do to these people. I basically just work to make them whole and breathe life into them.
We all love real and flawed characters. You can’t go wrong there!
*What is it about psychology that you enjoy employing in your writing?
I think this ties into the characters question because my psychology background helps me analyze the way a background would make a character who they are. It also helps me get into flaws and communication skill sets and all kinds of stuff to make both characters and relationships well rounded.
I love this. Your way of crafting characters is very fascinating.
*Who’s your favorite character you’ve ever created?
Wow…hard choice. I’m going to name a couple and say why because picking one is just too hard. Finn (Night Walkers’ Series) is the most fun. Piper (Cut Me Free) is the toughest. And Riley (The Row) has the biggest heart.
Awesome. I can’t wait to read all of your books!!
*As a reader, who are your top 3 favorite characters and what do you appreciate about them?
Peeta – (The Hunger Games) because he was vulnerable in a position that made everyone else hard.
Caymen – (The Distance Between Us) because I don’t know if I’ll ever find a better depiction of my ideal sense of humor anywhere else.
Adelina – (The Young Elites) because she’s the absolute best anti-hero I’ve ever seen and I love her for it.
Vulnerability, humor, and the anti-hero.
*Tell us about the protagonist in your new book.
Riley has walls up pretty high. She’s spent all her life defending her father and having people slander him and her whole family in front of her (and behind her back). She loves her father and believes that he’s innocent. This situation has flipped her perspectives in some interesting ways. She doesn’t trust police or the justice system. She has nightmares of the police coming to her house at night to steal her parents away. She’s very close to her father, but has more normal growing pains in her relationship with her mother. Her whole life was put on hold when her father went to prison and she and her mother have spent years with their lives in limbo as they fight to set him free. So when Riley starts to doubt her father, it sends her whole world spiraling out of control. She’s good, and loyal, and fierce in a situation where no one expects her to be. I loved writing her because it gave me a chance to expose and explore some things in our society that I don’t agree with. Often children and families of criminals are treated like they are guilty too, that they should’ve known and are somehow also responsible. I also got to ask some questions about how we can really be sure that we truly know anyone—or what they’re capable of. These topics fascinate me.
Totally agree. The story has a great premise and very interesting protagonist.
*You seem to write with powerful themes in your stories; I suspect you’re a very passionate person. What’s your process for selecting theme?
I do tend to gravitate toward powerful themes and I am a passionate person. I’m afraid my process for selecting a theme is far from scientific though. I like to expose myself to as much life as I can. I watch tv, movies, travel, go to the park and watch people, read the news and books. Then I wait for something to strike a particular chord. When it happens and I find myself really wanting to dive into researching a topic or issue more than normal, then I know it’s one I might want to write about.
LOVE IT. These are the best stories written by the best kinds of authors.
*Have you ever cried while writing? If so, what was your experience?
Yes, actually. The last two books: Cut Me Free and The Row. With both, it has been in a part of the story near the climax where I’m particularly connected to the characters and they’re at their lowest point. I also get a little choked up when I’m writing the end. The most emotional moments for my characters set me off a bit, but I think it usually means I’m getting that emotion to come through on the page in a good way as well, so I’m happy about it.
You gotta love emotion, it’s the currency of all fiction.
*What have you experienced or learned in writing this book as opposed to your other series and stand-alones?
The experience with this book has taught me to be flexible because I basically went through three different editors over the course of working on it. That’s unusual for me, so it took a bit of adjusting. I’m really happy with the way it turned out though. It was also my first mystery, which meant the tension changed a bit as opposed to my thrillers. The main character was in less danger than I was used to, so it forced me to run the story a little differently. I think I’m a better writer for the experience.
I like the idea of being a flexible writer. Crafting these kinds of stories are great exercise.
*I can tell you enjoy writing about the deep complexities of human life. Can you bring us into your mindset on this?
People fascinate me. They always have. I remember as a kid looking at a stranger walking down the street and thinking that it felt so random that I was in my body, in my life, and they were in theirs. I used to imagine being in their body. Would I be taller, would my arms be longer, what would the world look like from their perspective? I use this in my writing constantly. We all have struggles. We all have our own pain and triumph. I like to dig around in that and try to see the strength in human flaws and frailty. Through that lens is where we really capture the beauty of humanity.
We must be twins separated at birth!! People fascinate me as well. I love to connect with people on different levels. FUN!
*What do you have next coming down the pike?
I’m currently working on another standalone thriller and a couple of middle grade projects, so watch for news on those soon!
We’ll put out a BOLO for all of your upcoming projects. THANK YOU SO MUCH.
~~BETWEEN THE PAGES OF A BOOK IS A LOVELY PLACE TO BE~~
THANKS FOR JOINING THE YA BOOK BLOG TOUR