Jenn Johansson is no newbie when it comes to working with editors. For INSOMNIA and PARANOIA (which comes out June 8), she worked with Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, and is currently finishing up edits on CUT ME FREE with Janine O’Malley at FSG/Macmillan. So tell us all the secrets, Jenn!
BW: How has working with an editor changed your writing?
JJ: Working with an editor has allowed me to focus on different things while I write. I am able to put all my attention on really honing the story and know that all of the other stuff (phrasing, word choice, punctuation, etc) will fall into place as we go through revisions. It has really freed me up to put all of my creative energy into the craft and I love that.
BW: PARANOIA is the second book in The Night Walkers series. Did you approach writing and editing this book differently because it is a sequel?
JJ: I think sequels are an entirely different animal for many reasons. First, I had never written a sequel before and they truly are very different from the first book in a series or a standalone. You are building upon something you’ve already created, but you don’t want to be repetitive. You need to take the stuff from book #1 and amp it up but you don’t want to re-tread the same ground. You need to give your characters new areas in which to grow because they can’t become stagnant. It really is an entirely new challenge JUST because it’s a sequel. In some ways sequels are easier than starting fresh and other ways, they are SO much harder. It’s very difficult to describe until you’ve actually written a sequel. They are a unique beast.
BW: *nods* Beast is totally the perfect descriptor. Sequels are hard and I salute everyone who can pull it off successfully. Do you have a special method for working through your editorial letter?
JJ: I always read through the letter, then I let it sit for a couple of days and don’t work on it (assuming time allows for it). Giving the ideas and suggestions a chance to simmer usually means that when I sit down to start working the solutions I come up with are more developed than they would’ve been if I had jumped right into the letter immediately. I’m sure this isn’t the best for everyone, but for me, it seems to be the best option.
BW: Now that you’re an old pro, is there any secret trick you’ve learned that helps you self-edit before you manuscript crosses your editor’s desk? Or maybe some specific writing ticks or weakness you’ve learned to face or avoid?
JJ: Haha, an old pro? Wow…I feel so official now. 🙂 I think it’s important to remember what got you where you were. If you had a crit group before, continue to work with at least some of them. Find some other authors to beta read for you. Do not rely solely on yourself and your editor. Other authors will find things you might miss. Let them help you, and help them in return!
BW: Can you give us one piece of advice that you think helps editors (and readers, probably!) connect with a book?
JJ: I think it is really important to use all the senses with your description–but use them with impact. Don’t just randomly throw out what it smells like, tell us what it smells like at a moment when that scent also gives us a clue about what is going on in the area where the main character is and use that smell to trigger a thought, memory or emotion for your character. Bring the reader/editor fully into the head of your character so that they are in the moment and feeling/experiencing what the character is. That is the best way to help them feel that connection. Hope that helps!
BW: And if you’ve read INSOMNIA, you’ll know just how visceral Jenn’s writing is! If you haven’t experienced the world of the Night Walkers, the first book, INSOMNIA is available now as an e-book for $1.99. Find out more on her website: http://www.jennjohansson.com/INSOMNIA_Deal.html or directly on Kindle and Nook!
J.R. JOHANSSON is a young adult thriller author. Her books INSOMNIA, PARANOIA (June 2014), and a third untitled book (June 2015) are with Flux Books. CUT ME FREE (Winter 2015) and another untitled book (Winter 2016) will be coming out with FSG/Macmillan. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she’s not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she’s nearly drowning in testosterone.
Jenn’s Links –
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJRJohansson
J.R. Johansson on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5100095.J_R_Johansson
PARANOIA on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12260608-insomnia
Pre-order Links –
The Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/Paranoia-Johansson/9780738740188
Indiebound – http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780738740188
Paranoia Book Cover Info-
Tagline – With Every Night of Blissful Sleep Darkness Grows Inside Him.
In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working…until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn’t have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker’s life. When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They’re emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they’re even killing other people–all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what’s happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger…because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn’t the only one that could be lost.
Blurbs for The Night Walkers Series Books
“The perfect blend of everything I love in a story. I hope a sequel comes soon!”
–James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER
“Completely unputdownable. I’ve decided to nickname Johansson: Scary McScarypants, because she spooked me in all the best ways.”
–Carrie Harris, author of BAD TASTE IN BOYS
“Cleverly written and dangerously dark, Insomnia will take you to the brink of insanity. A must-read for thriller and romance fans alike.”
—Elana Johnson, author of POSSESSION
“A riveting story of terror and despair that will keep you up long past your bedtime.”
—Jennifer Bosworth, author of STRUCK