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Interview with Mike Johnson, Author of "Blonde to the Bone"
Mike Johnson’s book “Blonde to the Bone” just came out this week (2/27/06). We are proud to interview Mike for all his excitement. Welcome to Reader Views, Mike.
Irene: “Blonde to the Bone” just released this week. This is exciting news. Tell our readers the content of the story.
Mike: Leo Calvet, the missing fashion billionaire. Daniele and Michele, his beautiful twin daughters, are arguing, embarking on a surprise journey to find him, following a secret clue. Things are not as it seems when Michele fiancé Rick suddenly disappears in front of them and the sun is still. The search led Sisters Rick and Jack – Daniele’s “Dates” – on a spectacular quest from Washington DC to Paris, where they uncovered a terrorist plot to overthrow the Eiffel Tower. In this adventure, the sisters break the truth about their rivalry while each falls in love with the man of the other party.
Irene: “Blonde to the Bone” is your second published novel. What motivates you to write it?
Mike: I can say it was a beautiful full moon on a beautiful August night in San Diego. That night in the backyard, I had already decided that I was ready to start another project, and while looking at the moon, Blonde to the Bone had just come to me – of course it was. George Thorogood’s song Bad to the Bone. I just like the title. Sounds fun. So you could say I did reverse engineering that I thought would fit the title but with enough depth to keep it out of the slapstick comedy arena.
Irene: Although this book is entertaining, it also offers a unique approach to solving family problems. What is your mission to incorporate this approach into the book?
Mike: There is no real mission there. My main purpose for this book is entertainment. Something to give the reader a small vacation. Just fun. Plus, I think you could say I want my characters to be “good” and “loving” people. The world will never have too many people caring for each other, and in my novel I highlighted those virtues. But anyone who reads the book will know that the method presented is impossible given the current technological situation. I want to think that Leo acts like a loving father: willing to go anywhere to ensure the happiness and well-being of his daughter. I’m a little worried that a lot of readers will take his approach against him. Personally, I would not advocate spying on adult children to learn the truth, but it really feels good, right?
Irene: How do you create characters in your book?
Mike: I make it on demand. The author has to ask, “Who should be in this book?” With Blonde to the Bone for the title, I thought I needed a nice young idiot (would we normally be engaged with a phrase like this?) And thought the idea of identical twins would be more enjoyable to work with. . More than one character. So Michele and Daniele were resurrected. In fact, they are the same people who have a combination of internal decisions about two credible paths to take in life by the same person. Michele chose one route and Daniele another from Tabla Rosa on the same basis. Usually something interesting and light needs some emotion, so Rick and Jack came around. But what happened? Characters need problems to solve.
Although I want books to be fun, life is full of serious problems. I think Daniele’s problem is probably spreading on one level or another, and something that many female readers will understand in more depth than I do. I do not intend to clarify what I am sure is a serious problem for many women, but I do believe that the ability to laugh at life’s problems, even serious ones, makes for a healthier mental state. And I like to think that most men when they are old and have children are in love like Leo and want to find a way to solve their daughter’s problems. So Leo is a driving force in resolving conflicts. Other characters come in on demand – even though I think I fell in love with Valerie! (Do not tell my wife …)
Irene: How much “real life” is there in this book? Are there many of you in “Blonde to the Bone?”
Mike: Why not? Writing, especially novels, comes from personal experience. Even if you are writing something completely unknown to you, you must accept it before you can confidently write about it. So it becomes part of your personal experience. When you present yourself in writing, your personality will come out by definition. On the other hand, it is a novel and completely fictional. Nothing in the book has ever happened to me or anyone I know other than minutia, those little stories that help bring life to the scene, or those personalities that define a character.
To say what those things are special about, I have to go back one page and see which ones come from My own experience and which one I predict as a character based on real human observations. One recalls: In one scene, a protagonist says he thinks the CIA is in another part of DC. That’s really me. While doing business, I drove across Langley a few times on the way to the Patuxent River and thought the place was located there. It was not until I was researching that I discovered in the Global Satellite Image Program that the CIA was in a different Langley.
To answer your question directly, I think I must say that I am a combination of Jack and Rick by turning to Jack. Maybe one day when I grow up I will be Leo.
Irene: While reading your book, I see that you set the scene very well. I feel like I’m “there” with the characters. Will you tell our audience how you set up these scenes so that readers feel they can accept the characters and be part of the story?
Mike: I mean, it’s a combination of imagination and exploration. I imagine myself in every scene and become each character. From there, I just look around and write down what I experienced, trying to connect the five senses and look for those details that are common to everyone. For details that may not be common to the average American reader, I have carefully tried to describe it in such a way that readers will understand, so please share your experience. For example, in an action scene, I try to feel how the characters feel so that I can incorporate them into my writing. If the car leaves the dock, the driver will feel weightless. Erotic experiences become more real and enjoyable if the characters are feeling, the reader is feeling as well.
Irene: What kind of research did you do before you wrote the book? Have you really visited any of the places you mentioned in your book?
Mike: My wife and I went to Paris on vacation and I went on a deliberate search for a location for secrets. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I had learned, and without revealing too many projects, a certain line from a mansion actually pointed to our hotel room. Most of the views in Paris are based on the locations we visited, including the many street cafes. But Blonde to the Bone enjoys writing because I do not need much research. In the age of the internet, research is at our fingertips, or primarily the mouse grip in my case.
Most of what I need to know comes from websites – like the CIA example in your previous question. To make the technology in the book more reliable, I researched DNA calculations, both the current state of technology and future potential predictions. I have also been to Washington DC several times to do business. And the original cover art for “Blonde to the Bone” was purchased from a Parisian artist in the middle of a bridge across the Seine near the Louvre.
In a note, I work for a company called Computer Sciences Corporation, which sponsors the Lance Armstrong Tour de France. Our trip to Paris just coincided with the end of the Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong reached the record for winning his seventh Tour de France. Our return flight was on the morning of the last day of the race. At about eight o’clock we left our hotel (The Hilton Paris) and circled the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees on the way to the airport. They have already prepared the highway for the final race. We were halfway across the Atlantic when the race was over and the driver announced the PA system that Armstrong had won. So I can say forever that I was on the Champs Elysees, the day Armstrong made history on the Tour de France. I just do not see him doing it.
Irene: Thanks Mike. Is there anything else you want readers to know about you or your book?
Mike: First of all, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to appear on Reader Views! I really appreciate it! “Blonde to the Bone” is published by Suncoast Publishing. Readers can visit the Suncoast website to read the first chapter and find out about it at [http://www.suncoastbooks.com] “Blonde to the Bone” can be ordered at your local bookstore, but is also available at the online store below.
I hope you enjoy it!
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