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April's Affections and Intrigues: Love and Mystery Bloom


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Cozy Corner
Cozy Mystery Spotlights and Interviews

Kym Roberts | Cozy Corner: The Real SVU Detectives: an Interview with Author C.J. Johnson


Moonglow Road
C.J. Johnson

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City of Fountains

March 2024
On Sale: February 29, 2024
ISBN: 8989999669
EAN: 9798989999668
Kindle: B0CTXW22R2
e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by C.J. Johnson:
Moonglow Road, March 2024

I first met today’s feature author when she walked into my office as a brand-new recruit in her crisp Kansas City blue police uniform asking for the names of suspects, we wanted apprehended. To say that is rare, is an understatement. Most young officers run a daily computer check for new warrants in their beat, but C.J. wanted detailed information on the perps and went to the investigative units to get it. She didn’t stop there. She tracked down the offenders, no matter where they were—in or out of her beat, in an adjacent jurisdiction and if she couldn’t work with another agency, she gave any and all leads to the detectives. She helped victims get the justice they deserved.

She continued doing this throughout her time as a patrol officer, getting to know the detectives and sergeants while honing her skills in various types of investigative techniques. Needless to say, she was on my radar for a position as a detective in my unit as soon as she passed the selection process three years later. She is the passionate, dedicated investigator you want working in a the all-consuming, emotionally draining profession of detective in the Special Victim’s Unit.

I could go on and on about her dedication as a law enforcement officer, but she’s here to talk about her books! Trust me when I say, I walked the steps of her character Francesca “Frankie” Thomas. If you’re a fan of Law and Order, SVU then you don’t want to miss her series, City of Fountains, or her interview about her latest release, MOONGLOW ROAD!

Kym: Hi C.J. welcome to The Cozy Corner!

C.J. Johnson : Hi Kym, it is really great to be here!

Kym: You have an extensive background in law enforcement, sexual assault investigations training and victim advocacy. What made you start writing a true SVU series?

C.J. : I am passionate about the topic and felt this would be an opportunity to show a more realistic world of sex crimes investigations and the right way to respond to victims of interpersonal violence. The protagonist and her partner utilize best practices when doing their interviews and, although they are not perfect, they make concerted efforts to be trauma informed.

Kym: You worked as a detective in the Special Victims Unit for Kansas City Missouri’s Police Department. Why did you choose to write so close to home?

C.J. : They say to write what you know. I wanted my reader to be able to immerse themselves into the story from the first page. For a first series, it made sense to take them into a world I not only knew well but was very proud to be part of.

Kym: I love your series title, City of Fountains and the title for your fourth book, Moonglow Road. Can you tell our readers why you chose that series title and if there really is a Moonglow Road in KC? I know about the fictional version, but is there a real Moonglow Road from your own childhood?

C.J. : Thank you! When I began writing the first book, Thorns of Deceit, I was already planning a series. People know Kansas City for football and bar-b-que, but what many don’t realize is it more than 200 registered fountains (more than any city other than Rome). Thus, it is the City of Fountains. Whereas I initially thought it would be the name of the first novel, it seemed more fitting as the name of the series.

Moonglow Road is a real road although I’m not sure you can find the road on a map. It is a bit off the beaten path and leads to property that has been in my family since before I was born. It really is a magical place.

Kym: The first two pages of Moonglow Road grab the reader with poignant tension and forewarning. How does that compare to being given a case to investigate?

C.J. : Getting a new case was exciting and heartbreaking. A little shot of adrenaline hit every time I got a new assignment. Every case was different and unique, like receiving an unopened puzzle without a picture as a guide. Getting justice, or at least trying to get justice, for the victim was a driving force and sometimes all-encompassing.

Kym: From the moment your heroine, Francesca ‘Frankie’ Thomas and her partner Mia arrive at the Sex Crimes Unit for work, the drama and tension is real. It seriously transported me back in time to the PM’s shift—the best and worst shift in law enforcement. Lol. What was the hardest part about writing realistic crime and a police procedural mystery for you?

C.J. : It was the best and worst shift! I think the hardest part was keeping the storyline to one or two investigations when that is not the reality of SVU in Kansas City, Missouri. We were always balancing a high case load and new scenes but that does not translate well in print.

Kym: One of the victims in Moonglow Road, Finley, makes a common but costly error when she doesn’t trust her instincts and she puts her trust in someone she shouldn’t. Gaven DeBecker, the author of Gift of Fear advises women to follow their intuition yet women constantly ignore warning cues because of how they’re raised to be polite and accept help. If you could give one piece of advice to women on how to keep themselves safe, what would it be?

C.J. : First, I love that book! I wish it was required reading for young adults. If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to always listen to your gut. If the hairs on the back of your neck rise or something feels “off” in a situation – pay attention. Don’t let fear of embarrassment or the possibility of being wrong stop you from listening to that little voice, that gut feeling, your intuition. It has saved my bacon more times than I can count.

Kym: Like real sex crime investigations, Finley and Mia’s first case snowballs into a much larger investigation. Do you keep a ‘case file’ for your books the way you did for your investigations?

C.J. : That’s actually a great idea! I don’t keep a ‘case file’ but I may have to start one. LOL I do have a character notebook. I have a sketchbook with the primary characters, their attributes, relationship to the protagonist, and any other unique facts I want to remember.

Kym: Emotions can get the best of anyone, including cops and it happens to Frankie when someone very close to her is victimized by one of the suspects. Why was it important to you to have Frankie throw a punch at the suspect?

C.J. : It humanized her and made her relatable. She was feeling so many emotions at that moment and I wanted the reader to feel it with her. It was also important to me for the reader to see how her team responded when her emotions got the best of her.

 

Kym: Away from your careers, you are quite the photographer and home decorator. Why are your creative outlets important to you?

C.J. : Thank you! I love doing things that bring people a sense of joy and peace (which is ironic given the topic of my novels). Being creative also helps me with my writing. If I get stuck on a storyline I will grab my camera or work on a house project. Often it will help me find the answers I need to get the story moving again.

Kym: Can you tell us a little bit about your inspirational photo on the cover of Moonglow Road?

C.J. : It may just be my favorite cover. The barn and creek are in Missouri and are photographs I captured and sent to my amazing cover artist. I had begun working on Moonglow Road when I was taken to the barn. There was a sense of mystery and foreboding, but also beauty in it. I wasn’t initially sure how it was going to be used but it ended up an integral part of the story and Frankie’s childhood.

Kym: What are you working on now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

C.J. :  I am working on book 5 in the series. I am only about a quarter of the way through the novel but can tell you Frankie is working a stranger-rape case while a serial offender from her past is back out on the streets. This novel is going to give the reader even more insight into Frankie’s history with the department and her family.

Kym: Where can our readers find you on the web?

C.J. : They can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and of course, on my website.

Kym: For my last question that is also close to home, how about those Chiefs? Lol

C.J. : They are on FIRE!!! I cannot wait to see what the upcoming season brings. Will it be another Super Bowl win?!

Kym: Thanks for joining us at the Cozy Corner, C.J.!

C.J. : Thank you for having me Kym! It has truly been a pleasure.

Until next month, get cozy and read on!

MOONGLOW ROAD by Cj Johnson

City of Fountains

Moonglow Road

Teenage girls are being lured into the night to the City of Fountains, never to be seen again. No one is looking for these girls thought to be runaways until Patrick, an old friend of Detective Francesca “Frankie” Thomas, shows up and asks for her help. His partner’s daughter Sasha has disappeared. Local law enforcement is treating her like she is just another runaway, but Patrick knows that she was lured from home, and he fears the worst.
Twenty-eight years earlier, a young woman and her mother disappeared from Frankie’s hometown. In their quest to find Sasha, Frankie and Patrick start down a path that leads directly to their past, and the closer they get to the truth, the higher the stakes get.

 

Thriller [City of Fountains Press, On Sale: February 29, 2024, e-Book, ISBN: 9798989999668 / eISBN: 9798989999668]

About Cj Johnson

Cj Johnson

CJ Johnson was born and raised in the mid-west and spent over ten years working for a major metropolitan police department with the last six spent as a detective in the Sex Crimes Section of the Special Victims Unit. Passionate about her work, she fought hard for justice for every victim – especially those others often overlooked.

In 2012, she left the high-stress, fast paced career of law enforcement investigations to spend more time with her family. As a nationally recognized subject matter expert on sexual assault investigations, she focused on developing and executing training curriculum focusing on sex crime investigations to law enforcement agencies and their officers for the state of North Carolina.

She continues to play an active role in her mission to end interpersonal violence through training, volunteerism, and leading a team of investigators for an organization with an aligned mission while working on the City of Fountains series.

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About Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts writes by day and is a pro-surfer in her dreams by night. Her humor is often raunchy, her jokes are often bad, but her hunger for a story keeps the adventures coming fast. Experience the thrill & catch the wave of passion, mystery, and suspense with her on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. 

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