Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: The Row by J.R. Johansson @JRJohansson @yaboundtourspr

The Row
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.  

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Also available October 11th by the author, the paperback of CUT ME FREE!

An Interview with J.R. Johansson

1.      What inspired you to write THE ROW?

          Honestly, I started thinking about writing something like this while watching an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The episode was about the high percentage of adult men we have in prison in this country. He had a little skit with some puppets from Sesame Street and they started talking about how to talk about this problem with kids. It got me thinking about how few YA books I’d seen that showed children of people in prison. It felt like an underrepresented part of our population that faces unique challenges of their own and made me want to write something to fill that need.

2.      When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

          I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a writer until I was 28. Let’s just say I figured myself out a little late, but once I knew what I wanted to do, I threw myself into it head first. I’m so happy that I finally discovered this passion of mine.

3.      What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

          Unlike writing, I’ve always been a passionate reader. I remember reading to my dad before I started Kindergarten. He was supposed to be reading to me, but he has slight dyslexia and I kept correcting him. It wasn’t long before he just let me take over.

4.      What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

          I’m not entirely convinced that there is a genre of books that I don’t enjoy reading. I go through spurts. I’ll read a lot of contemporary then switch to fantasy/sci-fi. I’ll switch to adult thrillers for a while and then read a few non-fiction books. I hop around a lot and I really love the way it exposes me to so many different types of writing.

5.      What is your favorite book?

          Hmm…tough choice and it really changes day by day, but I think the Harry Potter series will always mean more to me than others because it was the first one that made me consider writing something myself. It’s also one that I re-read fairly regularly and I’m not normally a re-reader. Plus, J.K. Rowling is very possibly the coolest person in the universe, so there’s that as well.

6.      You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

          I have so many favorites, but I’ll go a different direction here. Stephen King is a favorite for inspiring the freaky side of my brain to think in a darker direction. It has become a strength of mine and I appreciate him for helping me bring that to the surface. Also, I was able to see him when he was on tour last year and he was absolutely hilarious.

7.      If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?
          I would probably go to the middle ages. It was a time when red hair and pale skin were highly valued. Plus, they threw frequent balls, people! In my humble opinion, society could really benefit from a few more occasions to put on pretty dresses, flirt and dance. Oh…and knights seem hot. I could probably get on board with that whole scene.

8.      When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

          It depends on the scene, but mostly it is difficult. I work hard and get my words on the page, but something I’ve come to accept about myself is that I do not like the initial stage of writing a book: drafting. Getting that first draft onto the page is one of the more challenging aspects for me. In contrast, I absolutely love editing and revisions. I like to take something that’s a mess and polish and mold it until it’s awesome, but that first part of getting the words actually onto the page to begin with—making the mess. That’s harder.

9.      Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

          I do! My family has three cats. Their names are Cleo, Isis and Phoenix. And because this has now become a frequent question, Isis was named after the Egyptian Goddess and not the terrorist group. *face palm*

10.    What is your ""to die for"", favorite food/foods to eat?

          Well my “to die for” list has gotten longer since I was diagnosed with Celiac disease last year. Not being allowed to eat gluten makes you really miss it. I’m doing okay with the change, but I do miss Red Vines a somewhat absurd amount. I used to munch on them while writing and now it feels a little like part of my process is missing. Sigh…so if anyone hears of any gluten free Red Vines, drop me a line!

11.    Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?"

          I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When I was just starting to write, I heard someone give the advice that “if you think you can be happy being anything else than an author, do that instead.” It made a lot of sense to me at the time. This is not an easy career choice and it’s not for the faint of heart. I now think the advice I’d give is somewhat different though. I think I would say, “If you think you can be an author and still be healthy and happy, do it.” I love my job. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. It has provided some of my highest highs and also some lowest lows. I have friends who are published and it has made them miserable. That isn’t the way to do it. Writers need to go into this with open eyes and know what is in store for them. Creativity is a beautiful thing, but working in a creative path isn’t for everyone. It takes a juxtaposed kind of person to do it. You must be both fiercely tenacious and still allow yourself to be vulnerable and exposed—a weird combo.
But if you are that type of weird, don’t be discouraged. Keep working, keep improving, and don’t ever give up.

About the Author
J.R.  Johansson's books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. 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. She lives in Utah with two sons, a wonderful husband, three cats, and a hot tub named Valentino. 

She is represented by the stellar Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

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