Today, Reader’s Entertainment welcomes bestselling author Cat Johnson. Her most recent release is the second book in her Oklahoma Nights series, featuring hot cowboys and plenty of romance.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?
I’m a born and bred New Yorker, though I’m not from the city. I’m in the northern suburbs where you can find horse farms and apple orchards but I’m just a train ride away from Manhattan. I don’t have an evil day job, but I’m still on the computer from 6 a.m. until sometimes 9 p.m.. It seems being a full time writer is more work, or at least more hours, than having a 9-5 office job.
Tell us about your latest release.
I’m very excited about TWO TIMES AS HOT because it’s book 2 in my Oklahoma Nights series out with Kensington Brava. It picks up where Book 1 ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY left off, and leads the reader into book 3, THREE WEEKS WITH A BULL RIDER (releasing in 2014). All the characters readers loved from book 1 make an appearance, plus some new introductions.
Would you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?
I straddle two worlds and two genres with the first two books in the Oklahoma Nights –cowboys and soldiers—so that means I’m researching both. Not a hardship! I was lucky, and surprised, to discover one of my military consultants has cowboy roots in that he used to work in a western shop as a teenager, shaping hats and doing leather work. The scene where the hero, Logan, is working in his family’s shop shaping hats was inspired by my consultant and I used his input and information to write it.
So, you have to tell us about the Keep Calm and Eat Bologna idea.
That bologna marketing campaign began as a happy accident. I needed to write a scene where Tuck and Becca go out to lunch. I was researching restaurants near Stillwater, OK when I saw one of my Twitter followers had the URL for an Oklahoma restaurant on their profile. I went to the site and saw their signature fried bologna sandwich on the menu. I tweeted that I didn’t know if even I could make that sound sexy, and that turned into a challenge. So I wrote a fried bologna-inspired sex scene into book 1, using the restaurant by name. Now there is a whole joint marketing campaign. Joseph’s Fine Foods in Drumright, OK promote me and my books, and I promote them and their bologna! So far, it’s been a perfect match. You’ll find “Keep Calm and Eat Bologna” swag all over Oklahoma and New York, and any other place I’ve been to a convention.
You do a lot of volunteer work with the military. Do you have military in your family? What inspires you to help out?
I support the troops indirectly, with promotion of the not-for-profits servicing them such as Books For Soldiers and The Boot Campaign, and more directly by sending care packages to those deployed. I started doing that because I was writing military romance and it felt like a natural tie-in to my writing, but those care packages were how I first met the men in uniform who are still my consultants today and it’s their friendship and dedication to both me and their service, that keeps me supporting them.
You also work with the Cowboy Crisis Fund. Tell us what that is?
Though they’ve been around for a long while, the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund is a recent discovery for me, so I am just now exploring working with them, but I’m happy I found them through my research online. They are a not-for-profit affiliated with the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) and they raise funds to support professional cowboys injured in the sport of rodeo. Thanks to the support of Justin Boots, the fund is unique in that it can donate 100% of contributions to those they serve, rather than earmarking a percentage for administrative expenses.
A lot of people may not know that most professional rodeo athletes are gravely underinsured in a sport where it’s not a question of if you’ll be hurt, but when and how badly. Any ride can result in months out of competition or a career-ending injury. And unlike ball players, there are no multimillion dollar contracts just for stepping on the field or even for sitting on the bench. Rodeo is more like horseracing. If you don’t win or place in that event, you don’t get paid, and you still have to pay the fee just to enter, and pay for your travel expenses and equipment.
I am not married to a cowboy, which is probably why I’m so enamored with them that I write them. As for this New Yorker being a cowgirl, I have on occasion played cowgirl around here. We own an 18th century farmhouse with a barn, so I’ve had up to three horses, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, barn cats and a herding dog. I’ve helped unload 200 bales of hay from the truck and shoveled my share of manure. It all aids in the realism when I write.
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
I guess Logan from book 2 was the hardest to write. Logan and Tucker (the hero from book 1) have dual sides to their characters in that they are both cowboys and soldiers, but unlike Tucker who was as comfortable in his cowboy boots as in his combat boots, Logan fights his cowboy side. It was hard for me to decide what to do with him when a family crisis brings him back home to his country upbringing and interferes with his military career.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
This may sound strange since it’s a male character, but I’d probably choose Tyler, Tuck’s younger brother who we meet in book 2. He just embraces life and has so much fun, it makes you want to be him, or at least hang out with him. Here’s an inside scoop for your readers—Tyler gets his own book. I’ll be starting on it shortly.
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
I play the harp. Though I don’t claim to be any good, I have been paid to perform so that qualifies me as a professional, officially. I can draw pretty well, too. My father is an internationally collected painter, so I guess it’s genetic.
What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did?
Probably what I’d love to be asked and what all readers should know is, what is the best way a reader can help an author? And the answer to that is LEAVE A REVIEW. On Amazon, on BN, on Goodreads—any or all of the above. It’s all a numbers game and algorithms rule the industry. Those sites weigh heavily the number of reader reviews, in addition to sales and rank, to decide what authors to promote and recommend. In today’s cutthroat publishing business, if a reader takes the time to leave a public review, and recommend an author (on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or even in person) it’s the most helpful thing they can do.
Thanks for having me! And you can always catch up with what’s happening in my world online, or join my mailing last at http://eepurl.com/sB4lf
You can follow Cat here:
Thank you for joining us today, Cat. I shall have to ask you to bring your harp to the next convention! That would be awesome.