You cannot capture a dream until you reach for it.

Linda, thanks for joining our MMC interviews. It’s a delight to get acquainted with you.
Murder Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?
I have to admit I’ve mostly been a lurker, although I hope to change that. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed observing the interactions between authors and readers and how they communicate so delightfully!
When and how did you discover the Murder Most Cozy group?
I joined the Murder Most Cozy Yahoo Group on January 31, 2005. I know that because I went onto the Yahoo Group list and checked! I’m not sure how I first heard about it, but I’ve always loved mysteries, and my own first cozy mystery SIT, STAY, SLAY, a Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter mystery, was published in 2005. Seemed like a good fit!
How did you know you were meant to write?
I’ve always written. Even as a kid, I started to write a novel–a sci-fi story about a boy and girl who explore the universe together. I never finished it but I found the pages I’d written a few years ago when my mother passed away. She had saved them.
What fascinates you about mysteries?
There’s such a variety of mysteries, from cozy to hard-boiled, and yet they all have something in common: something goes wrong, such as one or more person getting killed, and a person–the protagonist–who’s dedicated and interesting to read about is determined to figure out whodunit by the end of the book. Too bad real life isn’t always so satisfying!
What inspired you to writeyour  mysteries?
Since I loved to write, and I always enjoyed reading mysteries, it was a natural fit.
What intrigues you about writing a series?
In my two mystery series, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries and the spin-off Pet Rescue Mysteries, I’ve enjoyed introducing, in each, a protagonist who must change during the first story from someone who has no interest in solving mysteries to a person who has no choice–and of course succeeds. Throughout the series, I also enjoy providing a character arc for my protagonists, as each comes to realize that, like it or not, she’s going to have to keep solving murders to help her friends or acquaintances. Each one has also had friends whose characters develop, too. And of course they’ve all had animals in them. I love pets, especially dogs!
How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?
I generally have a theme for the story that fits into the series. From there, I create a short synopsis that I work from–so I go into writing the story knowing who’ll get murdered, whodunit and how and why, and how my protagonist will solve it.
Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?
I love Lauren Vancouver, protagonist of my Pet Rescue Mysteries, because of her dedication to saving animals. Her stories have inspired me to become a dog adoption counselor at Pet Orphans of Southern California, a wonderful private pet shelter. I also love Kendra Ballantyne, protagonist of my Pet-Sitter Mysteries, because she lives in the Hollywood Hills where I live, she’s a lawyer, as I’ve been, and she has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie, as I do. Do you see a theme here? My protagonists tend to be my alter egos!
What would you like to say to your readers & fans?
Keep on reading! And, if possible, make your reading a blend of print books and ebooks so both will continue to thrive. Oh, and while you’re at it, why not try some of my mysteries if you haven’t already, and if you have, I’d love it if you’d make the rest a target of your continued reading. J I’d also love to hear from you.
What advice would you offer a beginning writer?
Keep at it. Join writing groups, local or online, to get support for what you’re doing and critiques to help you continue to develop your skills. And never give up! You’re entering into a new world of publishing with lots of possibilities, from the standard established publishers to smaller publishers to self-publishing, so one way or another you should be able to share your creations with the world.
Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?
Yes, and yes! In addition to being a mystery writer, I also write romance for Harlequin Nocturne (paranormal) and Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I’ve always said that my mysteries always contain an element of romance, and my romances always contain suspense or mystery.
As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story. As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?
My characters do seem to speak to me, to tell me what comes next, or that I’m taking them in a direction they don’t want to go. I don’t dream my scenes, but they often flow into my subconscious at night as I’m taking a bath and preparing for bed.
Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?
I enjoy reading all of them, but realized that, to include animals in the way I wanted to–for fun, with all of them getting out of any fixes I’d put them in unharmed–cozies would work best. Even so, I haven’t closed my mind to the possibility of trying thrillers someday. And I do write romantic suspense–for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)
Unlike a lot of authors, I do like to read the kind of story I’m writing as I’m writing it, including cozies. That helps me get into the mood. But my stories derive from my own subconscious and my characters talk to me. I’m not concerned that I’ll start to mimic anyone else.
Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?
See my responses to character development, above. I love to see my characters develop and learn from their experiences as they solve more mysteries.
Do you enjoy “stand alone” cozies that are not part of a series if written well?
Sure–although most cozies I read are parts of series, I’ll read any kind of cozy as long as I enjoy it.
What are you writing now?
At the moment, I’m writing the fifth Pet Rescue Mystery. I just turned in the manuscript for my fourth Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturne–about a covert military unit of shapeshifters. As I mentioned, I love animals and I enjoy writing about them in any form!
Tell us about your newest mystery:
My latest published mystery is HOUNDS ABOUND, the third Pet Rescue Mystery themed around a special sanctuary for special needs pets that may be hard to rehome–seniors and those with disabilities, including some with prosthetics. When the owner of that sanctuary is accused of killing her ex-husband, protagonist Lauren Vancouver has to get involved to help keep the sanctuary in business. My next Pet Rescue Mystery OODLES OF POODLES will be a February 2013 release. It’s themed around the film industry and the “No Animals Were Harmed” trademarked phrase of the American Humane Association. Lauren is helping to observe the filming of a movie about rescue dogs and has to solve the murder of the director to keep the film going.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
Come visit me at my website–although it currently needs to be brought up to date. It’s at You can also friend me on Facebook, or read my weekly blog on Wednesdays at

Comments on: "Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Linda O. Johnston" (3)

  1. Very nice post.

    I enjoy reading your writing very much. Thanks for posting. Have a great day. I’ll be back for more.

  2. Thanks, Easy Writing!

  3. Easy Writing, be sure & enter the Mystery Most Cosy drawing for one of Linda’s mysteries!

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