Monday, September 8, 2014

J.R. Johansson, author of Insomnia and Paranoia

Author Bio:
J.R. Johansson is the author of Insomnia and Paranoia. 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. J.R. Johansson lives on the foothills of the Utah mountains with her two young sons and a wonderful husband. Visit her at

Title: Cut Me Free
Author: J.R. Johansson
ISBN: 978-0374300234
Page count: 304 pages
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller
Price: $17.99

Tell us about your book:
Seventeen­year­old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Now she's trying to start a new 
life, but while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the threatening notes left in her apartment—without a trace of entry. As the messages grow more menacing, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

How long did it take to write the book?
It took just over two months to draft it. I worked on the planning stages for about two months before that. This, of course, doesn’t include the revising or editing time which was probably six months total on top of that.

What inspired you to write the book?
I wanted to write a thriller in the contemporary setting and once I latched on to this idea and character it just wouldn’t let go of me. I had to write it.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
When in drafting mode, I try to write every day to stay in the groove. I did an extensive amount of research on Philadelphia as a setting and actually went out and spent some time there. I think it really helped the city jump off the page as its own character in a lot of ways. I also did further research on the effects of child abuse and how Charlotte would react as a recovering victim to many situations. I have a minor in psychology and still remembered much of what I learned in college, but I needed a refresher on some of it.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope they come away with more of an awareness of others around them. There are unfortunately too many cases of ongoing abuse of children even today and there are signs. I want to be more like Charlotte and be able to see the signs. I hope my readers want that, too. I also really want my readers to come away with a sense of hope in the strength of people, particularly victims of any kind of violence. They went through something, it will influence how they are and what they do…but it doesn’t have to define who they are.

Excerpt from book:
“The city embraces me. Shiny rectangles so tall I can barely make out where they end and the sky begins. They wrap me in shadow. Hiding me. Holding me. In this single moment, I feel safe here, and I don’t remember the last time I felt safe anywhere. The sun sets against an unseen horizon, but I don’t head back to the hotel. No one waits for me there.
The sounds and smells of this place are like a different world. It smells like people, so many people. I’m accustomed to the smell of emptiness, but it would be foreign in a place so full. No, it’s more than full. It is bursting with life. The scent of Rittenhouse Square fills the air around me, green and lush. I’m encircled by millions of breaths taken at once—surrounded by life. The best thing the Parents ever did for me was to go down without giving me much trouble. At least I only had to escape once. I’m not positive that they’re dead, but I certainly tried. And I really can’t think about that now.
Instead, I need to live. Everything I’ve ever known is death and pain; being drenched in life feels good.
Closing my eyes, I extend my arms and the warmth of the city flows around me, flows through me. No more pain. No more clawing fingers dying to break another bone or raise another bruise on my pale skin. No more cruel eyes and words twisting my world. Now they are dying. Now they are dead.
And I don’t regret what I’ve done.”

Where can we go to buy your book?
Both the hardcopy and the ebook are available everywhere now for pre-order. They will be delivered on release day, January 27th. Here are a few of many possible options for where you can order it:

Any other links or info you'd like to share?
You can find me on my website: I’m also on twitter:, instagram: and facebook: and you can sign up for my newsletter here:

J.R. Johansson will be one of the Featured Guest Authors speaking at the 2014 St. George Book Festival. To learn more and see a full list of events, visit

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