Monday, July 20, 2009

A New Book from a New Friend

Reviewing books has resulted in my meeting some delightful new friends, some in person and some via email. One such person is Liz Johnson, a publicist for a Christian publishing company who mails me books to review. What a privilege it is for me to join in celebrating the release of her own debut novel! The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn released last week as part of the Love Inspired Suspense line, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Don't let the small size fool you - this book is packed with adventure, suspense, a little romance, and some unexpected twists & turns.

I had the chance to interview Liz via email last week and get to know her a little better:

Congratulations on this exciting milestone, Liz! When did the writing bug "bite" you?

I was 7 when my mom assigned me (I was homeschooled) to write a short story. The assignment was a story-starter, and I was supposed to finish a page about a bear. It turned into a 6-page story. I’ve been writing ever since then. But it wasn’t until after college that I really started getting serious about writing.

As a publicist you read lots of books and interact with many authors. While I can imagine that has its advantages for a fledgling author, are there challenges as well? Is it hard to separate yourself and find your own ideas and niche?

I do read a lot. And I do interact with a lot of authors, but I’ve never had a hard time finding my own voice and ideas. I’ve always had stories to tell, characters that want me to tell their tales. I would say that the biggest challenge of working in the industry is never being able to read as many books as I’d like! :) I barely have time to read the ones that I’m working on, and there are tons more I’d like to read.

I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to use a prison setting for my first novel, were I to write one! How did you come up with the plot and research it?

I don’t think it was particularly brave to set my book in a prison. I had a friend who went to prison during my senior year of college. He had made some really bad decisions. His sister asked me to write to him, so we wrote for 5 years. It really made me curious about what life inside prison would be like and if anyone would ever willingly go to prison. I read up a little bit on the Oregon prison system, and it all became part of my story. Throw in some things that God was teaching me about relying on Him, and it became The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn.

How are you celebrating your debut novel's release?

My friends have been wonderful and have helped me celebrate several times already. Some girlfriends and I went to the Cheesecake Factory and indulged in a great meal and fabulous dessert! Then on the release day, friends from work took me out to lunch. And this week, I’m headed back to Arizona to visit my family where friends from church are throwing me a launch party. It’s been great to celebrate with friends and family.

What's next on the horizon for you?

I’m working on revisions for my next romantic suspense novel, which isn’t under contract yet, but I’m hoping we’re moving that way. It’s a follow up to The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn and has some overlapping characters. In the in-between time, I’m working on a proposal for a contemporary romance set in Arizona.

Thanks so much, Liz! I look forward to reading more of your work!

This is an engrossing book written by a promising new author. Kidnapped by Myles Parsons, one of the prison GED students she teaches, as he escapes from the Oregon State Prison Complex, Kenzie Thorn is scared, confused, and angry. She doesn't believe Myles's claim that he is an FBI Special Agent and that he kidnapped her to protect her because that is just too ludicrous. After all, her beloved grandfather is the governor! Surely that gives her a measure of safety and protection. But if Myles is right, then she is determined to help him find the person threatening her life, much to Myles's chagrin. Especially since they are now fugitives - an escaped prisoner and his hostage. Stress and tension are relieved by touches of humor and attitude to provide a well-balanced read. Seamless transitions between the viewpoints of Myles and Kenzie give a glimpse into their hearts, minds, and even their prayers. And the multi-layered resolution had at least one jaw-dropping surprise! This book is the perfect size to slip into your purse or beach bag. Grab one today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Wal-mart.

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.

Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.

Liz lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church's bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is her first novel. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at


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sara said...

this sounds great! And how fun to be part of the start of her writing career!! Of course, being from AZ myself, I must now read it!! :)

Mel said...

Ok i am a bit green since you get to interact with awesome authors!!!

Letters From Midlife said...

Sounds like a good read!

Liz Johnson said...

Thanks a ton for having me on your blog! :) I really enjoyed answering your questions. And thanks for your kind words. I'm honored.

A Stone Gatherer said...

Sounds like a good book!

Kim said...

I love working with Liz! This is a great way to get to know her better! Thanks for a look behind the scenes, Linda!