Jen: It’s day five of Western Romance week and today we are thrilled to welcome Cat Johnson to Romancing the Book. Cat, will you share a short bio with us?
Cat: A New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Cat Johnson writes contemporary romance featuring sexy alpha heroes, men in uniform, and cowboys. Known for her unique marketing and research practices, she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western wear for book signings, and a fair number of her friends/book consultants wear combat or cowboy boots for a living. She writes both full length and shorter works and is contracted with Kensington and Samhain.
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Jen: Tell us a little about your upcoming release.
Cat: My next release is SAVED BY A SEAL (Hot SEALs # 2) which will release on September 16, 2014.
Zane Alexander was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but the rebellious bad boy traded it in for a Navy SEAL trident.
Now, Zane’s teammates are depending on him to get the startup capital they need to open their security company and he’s gambling on his skills at covert operations. For a million dollars, he’ll fake interest in Missy Greenwood, the Senator’s daughter his father wants him to date in exchange for the investment.
But when Missy is kidnapped and Zane and his team are sent to Nigeria to rescue her and the schoolgirls being held, bullets as well as sparks of attraction start to fly. There’s no more faking when both the danger and the emotions are all very real.
Through the dark lenses of his sunglasses, Zane surveyed the passersby streaming past the outdoor café table where he sat.
The sidewalk was busy, it being midday. The temperature was moderate for a winter day, and the sun was warm enough he’d chosen to sit outside to wait.
Would he recognize Missy? Maybe. Probably. He doubted she’d change all that much in ten years, save for the removal of the braces on her teeth.
He’d arrived early, so he leaned back in the café chair to wait wondering if having coffee would count as a date in his father’s eyes. He should probably take her to dinner too, just to be safe, if he didn’t get recalled before then.
Glancing at the screen of his cell on the table, he confirmed there were no messages. Not from Missy. Not from the guys either since he had already talked to Jon on the drive over to visit briefly with his mother.
Most importantly, there was no message from command. He might just get this required first date out of the way yet. If Missy wasn’t fashionably late, that was.
“Zane.” Missy’s voice behind him brought his attention around.
He turned to see her smiling and looking both familiar and different at the same time. “Missy. Good to see you.”
Zane stood and reached out to take her hands in his while he leaned in to kiss her cheek. While doing so he didn’t miss the sophistication and maturity a decade had given her. She looked more like her mother than ever with her large designer sunglasses, and the no doubt high-dollar coat.
But the light breeze that pinked her cheeks and rustled the blond waves that just brushed her shoulders made her look like the teenager he’d known. So did the genuine warmth in her smile—something he’d never seen on her mother.
She squeezed his hands and he felt the chill in her fingers. “We can go inside to sit if you’d like. It’s too cool out here for you.”
“Actually, if you wouldn’t mind, could we get the coffee to go?” she asked. “I kind of wanted to take a walk around the shopping center and see what’s here.”
Zane’s brows rose with surprise. “Uh, sure. Let’s grab something to go.”
The shopping center? The strip mall filled with dollar stores and discount shops? If Zane wasn’t very aware that just the clothes on Missy’s back cost as much as his military pay for a single pay cycle he’d wonder if the Greenwoods were having money problems.
Then again, maybe Missy was more like him than he’d assumed. Maybe she’d traded her access to the family fortune in exchange for freedom.
Either way, her request upped the interest factor on a date he’d assumed would bore him to death.
Jen: I love all your covers. Do you have any input into them?
Cat: Yes and no. For the Samhain covers (those are my Studs in Spurs series books and my Red, Hot & Blue series) I fill out an extensive form which includes other author’s covers that I like the style of, pictures of what I think the hero looks like, my ideas for a concept, character descriptions, time period and theme of the book, etc. Then I see a draft and can make suggestions to tweak anything I don’t love. For my Kensington series, Oklahoma Nights, I can tell them what I’d like, but I don’t get input and often see the cover when the public first sees it. Then, for my self pub book covers I have much greater control. When I do my own covers in Photoshop it’s all me, flaws in execution and all. When I hire a cover artist it’s a bit of a compromise because the artist is not inside my head, and I can only ask for so many tweaks and changes to make the cover match my vision.
Jen: All your books have alpha males. Where do you get your inspiration?
Cat: Some of my heroes are based, in part, on real live cowboys and military men I know. Others are my ideal, my fairy tale hero, created as I would build him if I had the power.
Jen: Where do you get your ideas for new books/series from?
Cat: I come from a ‘write for hire” background and I work very well to instructions, so my series ideas usually come from an “assignment” of some sort. Like recently a fellow author invited me to take part in a SEAL themed box set this summer. I didn’t have any SEAL books to put in so I sat down and created a new Romantic Suspense SEAL series. It was the same for the Oklahoma Nights series. The editor at Kensington contacted me out of the blue saying they’d love to have a submission from me, either cowboys or military in genre. I created the Oklahoma Nights series specifically for that call, and made Tuck an Oklahoma bull rider by hobby and a career soldier by profession. And most recently, Amazon contacted me and said Bella Andre was interested in having me write in her new Game For Love Kindle Worlds, which is about football players, which I had never written. I had and incredibly short amount of time to come up with a story, write it, and get it polished and uploaded in time for the launch of the new world but I did it because there was no way I was missing the amazing opportunity to be the first author to write in Bella’s new world. It paid off. I hit #1 in category on release day!
Jen: How do you approach writing differently when it’s a series or a stand alone book?
Cat: When I know it’s a series I make sure the side characters are rich and interesting. Well fleshed out and usually showing hints of what their story will be in a future book. A stand-alone book, particularly a shorter one, the side characters play a lot smaller part.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? A favorite series you’ve written?
Cat: I tend to love the guy I’ve just written 🙂 but I really do love Tyler from the Oklahoma Nights series. He’s getting his own book in the spinoff series, Midnight Cowboys, releasing from Kensington Zebra in Mass Market Paperback and eBook early 2015.
Jen: What’s up next for you?
Cat: I am excited that after too long of a break, I’ve got new releases in my Studs in Spurs series with Samhain. Thrown released in late May, and Champion will be releasing this September (fingers crossed). The Hot Alpha SEAL boxset I mentioned earlier, which contains Night with a SEAL, the launch novella in my HOT SEALs series, released July 22nd, and Book 2 in the Hot SEALs series, Saved by a SEAL is on preorder for a September 16th release. It’s been a hell of a busy summer! But after I get Book 3 in the SEALs series written and released (hopefully in October), I can slow down. Then I’ll be taking my time writing Book 3 in the Midnight Cowboys series for Kensington and the next Studs in Spurs book for Samhain.