Today on Twilight Sleep, I’m so excited to have the amazing J.R. Johansson, author of INSOMNIA! *cue loud music and strobe lights and maybe some explosions* First, a bit about INSOMNIA:
After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can’t take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he’s made eye contact with. If he doesn’t sleep soon, Parker will die.
Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker’s furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he’d go. And when someone begins to terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker’s memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.
Coming soon: PARANOIA
Book 2 in J.R. Johansson’s Night Walkers series.
Twilight Sleep: So Jenn – may I call you Jenn? – how are you? I know you’re all caught up in release touring and such, how is all that going?
J.R. Johansson: Absolutely, you can call me Jenn. I’m doing well. All the release stuff is very exciting and a little exhausting, but I’m hanging in there. Thanks for asking!
TS: What’s been the most exciting and/or fun thing that’s happened since INSOMNIA was released?
JJ: I got to do an interview with a reporter for two newspapers on the other side of the state from me. It was a complete surprise and she reached out to me to do the interview because she enjoyed INSOMNIA so much. It was flattering and really fun to do.
TS: Let’s talk more about INSOMNIA. Tell me, what in the world spawned the idea for this book?
JJ: I have weird dreams…more than weird, bizarre. And after one particularly odd one, I woke up wondering if other people had dreams like mine and what they would think if someone saw them. It kind of spiraled out from there.
TS: How do you feel about the fact that you’re now the reason that many insomniacs, like myself, are terrified of the eventual onset of their own psychosis? I’M KIDDING. That’s not a real question. But seriously though, how does that make you feel?
JJ: Haha, I guess if that were true, then I’d feel like I was an early warning for them and maybe they’d band together and get the help that Parker had a hard time finding. ;-)
TS: What has been the biggest effect that your own experiences with insomnia have had on you? Did you incorporate that in the book in some way?
JJ: I think everyone has felt the dragging exhaustion that comes from lack of sleep. I’ve also felt the desperation to finally get some sleep when you’re that tired. It almost feels like a hunger. I wanted to convey both aspects as clearly as possible in the book.
TS: Parker excluded, who was your favorite character to write?
JJ: Finn and Addie are a toss up for me. It depends on the day. When I want humor, it’s Finn…when I want heart, it’s Addie.
TS: Speaking of writing, when you decided to sit down and write a book that you wanted to publish, what made you decide to choose the dark genre of horror?
JJ: I’m not so sure I chose it as that it happened and I learned to embrace it. I never thought of myself as someone who would write scary books. I kind of fought it for awhile, but then I started to realize that not only were the darker scenes my favorite to write, they were universally the ones that stuck with my readers. They were the ones I was the best at, so I thought a lot about it and decided to give it a try for an entire book. I’m so glad I did. I LOVE IT! :)
TS: I know you’ve talked about this before, but choosing to use the name J.R. Johansson instead of Jenn Johansson – was this a hard decision to make? Are you resentful at all that that was something you even had to consider to ensure that the published book playing field was more level for you?
JJ: It wasn’t too hard of a decision, and I don’t resent it. It is still my name. I figure, there are different ways to fight for equality. One would be to stick with Jenn and try to convince those that might have an issue with it to change their minds. Another is to go by my initials and invite people to read without inviting their biases. Hopefully people read it and it changes some ideas about the way things work when new readers discover they read a horror book with a male main character…and it was written by a woman.
TS: Well, now that we’ve gone all serious, let’s lighten things up a bit. When are you going to send me the Word file of book 2 so I can read it?
JJ: Haha…ahem. I could send it, but then I’d have to kill you. And from a horror author that’s a threat you must take seriously. ;-)
TS: Is there anything you can tell us now about book 2?
JJ: I can tell you we should be revealing the title soon and the cover should be this fall. I can tell you there will be more of Parker and his friends facing new and broader challenges. There will be a lot of answers…and a lot more darkness. *cough cough*
TS: What about The Night Walkers series? Will it be a trilogy? Longer, shorter? Or do you even know yet?
JJ: It will be a duology, so the sequel will be the end of Parker’s story. About 6 months after the sequel comes out, I have a new contemporary thriller set in Philadelphia coming out with FSG/Macmillan. That’s a project I’m also very excited about.
TS: Thank you so much for joining us on Twilight Sleep today! I really appreciate you making time in your busy schedule for me. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about?
JJ: Thank you so much for having me, Shannon! Your blog has sleep in the title, it’s clearly a place where I’m comfy stopping by for a chat. And as long as I’m hanging out here, why don’t we give stuff away? Signed stuff. This sounds like a good plan to me. :)
The lovely J.R. left some amazing swag with me to giveaway to one lucky reader here at Twilight Sleep! The swag pack includes a signed copy of INSOMNIA, an INSOMNIA prescription (complete with candy pills), bookmark, postcard, AND really cool drawstring backpack! Open to US entries only.