Lately I’ve been doing some spring cleaning, going through closets and the garage to get rid of stuff I’ve been storing for years and clearly don’t need. I discovered that I have stuff going back to the 1960s, plus lots and lots of books. I knew I had a lot of books, but I discovered even more packed away in the garage. Although I love surrounding myself with books, it’s time to let some of them go—to make room for new ones!

This week I’m talking mysteries/police procedurals with Lynn-Steven Johanson. His latest book is One of Ours (A Joe Erickson Mystery Book 4). Enjoy the interview!

About the Author

Lynn-Steven Johanson is an award-winning playwright and novelist whose plays have been produced on four continents. Born and raised in Northwest Iowa, Lynn holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His Joe Erickson mysteries, Rose’s Thorn, Havana Brown, Corrupted Souls, and One of Ours, are published by Level Best Books. He lives in Illinois with his wife, and they have three adult children.


Who or what inspires you to write?

I’m a creative person by nature, and most of what I have done and what I do in life has been creative. I’ve worked as a stage director, a playwright, and a novelist. In addition, I’m a good cook, pretty good carpenter, and have done most of the renovating inside our home. If that’s not enough, I’m a gearhead and have built two street rods. And I sing with the local choral society. So, writing is just one more form of expression.

You are a man of many talents! What is the best thing that has happened because of your writing?

The best thing is when people contact me online or come up to me and say how much they enjoy my books. It’s gratifying to know that others appreciate my work and are looking forward to the next one.

It really is wonderful to hear from happy readers. What is the most difficult thing you have experienced about writing or publishing?

Getting in the door took some perseverance. After I finished by first novel, I pursued acquiring an agent. I wasted almost a year sending out queries and getting back rejections or being ignored entirely. Finally, I gave up and submitted to three publishers that accepted submissions directly from authors. After six weeks, one of them asked for the full manuscript, and shortly thereafter offered me a three-book contract which I accepted.

Congratulations on getting a three-book contract, that’s a wonderful success story! Was there anything you didn’t do during your writing or publishing journey that you wish you had?

I probably would have served myself better had I taken a workshop or two in narrative writing. As a playwright, I have no problem writing dialogue. That comes easily. Writing the narrative was something I had to learn. Thankfully, my wife is a former English composition teacher who reads a lot of novels, and she mentored me on how to write a proper narrative. She still functions as my first editor, for which I’m very grateful. I owe her a lot.

I think every author has something they wish they had done differently. How nice that you have an “in-house” editor in your wife. You said you had a publisher, what was that experience like?

My four novels, Rose’s Thorn, Havana Brown, Corrupted Souls, and One of Ours are published by Level Best Books, a small publishing company that specializes in mysteries. They have been great to work with and have grown a lot as a company since the time I came aboard.

I’ve heard that not all author experiences with publishers are great, but it sounds like yours has been good. Which genre(s) do you like to write in, and why?

My novels have been described as a blend of a mystery and a police procedural. Whatever they are, I’m comfortable writing in that particular genre. I‘ve been a fan of “who-dunnits” since I was a teenager. It wasn’t because I was a reader back then. My parents didn’t have many books in the house. Instead, I consumed television shows like Peter Gunn, N.Y.P.D., and Mannix. I have to admit I love to watch things like Masterpiece Mystery, and I’m drawn to those dark Scandinavian mysteries on Netflix. Those are in my genes!

The mystery genre is very popular, so I’m sure you have many devoted fans. Do you outline your books before you write them?

Oh, yes. I outline the story before I ever begin writing chapter one. I learned to do that when I taught myself to write a screenplay using Sid Field’s The Screenwriter’s Workbook. It’s a technique that works just as well for a novel as it does for a screenplay, and I use it for all of my books. I need to have a detailed outline to write by. If I was forced to write by the seat of my pants, I’d probably be quivering in a corner somewhere! But the elements in the outline are flexible and subject to change as new ideas come along as I’m writing. You can’t think of everything ahead of time.

Having a flexible outline seems like a key to success. How do you define success as a writer?

For me, success isn’t getting rich or becoming famous. Success is writing good stories that people like and enjoy reading. Making money on my writing would be a nice reward, but it certainly isn’t a goal.

I agree with that definition of success, and I think it’s the main goal of most authors. If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be?

Oh, my! That’s a hard question because I have several favorite authors. I guess I would choose someone who is not a mystery writer. It would be Mark Twain. I think he is quintessentially America’s greatest writer, and I enjoy his wit and humor. While I have not read all of his books, I have read his major works and the first book of his autobiography. There is something about his wit and humanity that draws me to him, and I find his mind infinitely fascinating.

Mark Twain is one of the greats, for sure. He takes his readers on wonderful adventures. Tell us about a great adventure you’ve had.

Rather than a great adventure, I’d like to relate a couple of great experiences I had while I was an intern at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. I was fulfilling a requirement for my MFA degree in 1982, and one of my internship duties was assisting Edward Albee when he was directing his new play for the opening main stage production that fall. That in itself was great experience. But to top it off, I got to spend fifteen minutes speaking with Tennessee Williams, keeping him company in the green room while his secretary photocopied his new play in the room next door. Just Mr. Williams and me drinking coffee out of a machine and talking about his plays. He was very cordial and willing to talk. Simply an amazing experience, and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.

What great opportunities you had during your internship. I’m sure that’s inspiring to many. Lynn, thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences with us.

Readers, you can find out more about Lynn and his books at his website, You can find One of Ours here.

One of Ours

Death hits close to home in One of Ours when Chicago detective Joe Erickson is called to the scene of a fatal shooting. The victim, a police captain Joe knows well, had been working on his own time to solve a cold case before he retired. Determining he was silenced for getting too close to the truth, Joe picks up the trail and finds it teeming with corruption, executions, and a conspiracy involving a powerful city official. Can Joe crack the cold case and solve the murder while avoiding the wrath of the conspirators?

Readers, have you ever met anyone famous? Let us know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Author Interview—Lynn-Steven Johanson

  1. I enjoyed the interview with Lynn-Steven Johanson. I am glad that he found success with his book publishing right away. I will have to check out his books.

    Liked by 1 person

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