[Mysteries & Thrillers THE JOHANSENS THE JOHANSENS FIRST GENERATION Iris Johansen has dozens of books to her credit, including 18 crime novels fea- turing forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.SECOND GENERATION Roy Johansen has written three thrillers, begin- ning with 1999’s The Answer Man (Bantam). COLLABORATION Iris and Roy have cowritten standalone thrillers, most recently
Shadow Zone (St. Martin’s, 2010), as well as a
trio of mysteries starring FBI Consultant
Kendra Michaels, most recently The Naked Eye
(St. Martin’s, 2015), with three more slated for
Iris Johansen began writing romance novels in
the early 1980s, then turned to historical
romantic suspense with 1991’s The Wind Dancer
(Bantam), before finding an almost permanent
spot on the bestseller lists with crime fiction.
Her son, Roy, got his start as a screenwriter. While attending Georgia State
University in 1987, Roy received a FOCUS Award (Films of College and University
Students), sponsored by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese, for his
screenplay Murder 101. It was produced for cable TV, and in 1992, Roy and cowriter
Bill Condon won an Edgar Award from the MWA for Best TV Feature or Miniseries.
Iris attributes the spareness of Roy’s prose to his screenwriting background and says
she and her son share similar styles—“lean,” with “fast pacing.”
Roy points out another similarity. “Neither of us believe in writer’s block,” he says.
“Even if we think the pages are coming out terribly, we realize that we’re often the
worst judge of our own work as it’s being produced. So we forge ahead and stick to
the writing schedule. Bad work can always be revised, which is much easier and more
efficient than dealing with blank pages.”
And though their collaboration has been a fruitful one, Roy admits to some diffi-
culty—or what he calls differences of opinion—but feels that finding solutions to
those differences results in a better book.
By way of example, Roy says, “In our first Kendra Michaels book, Close Your Eyes [St.
Martin’s, 2012], we introduced a character, Olivia, who was a childhood friend of
Kendra’s. My mother, who can be quite bloodthirsty as far as her characters are concerned, felt strongly that Olivia should die. I was just as convinced that she should live,
and we spent weeks discussing it and making our cases. In the end, Olivia lived, and we
later agreed that the book was better for it. We already had one emotionally wrenching
death, and another would have darkened the tone too much. In the course of our collabo-
can be quite
bloodthirsty as far
as her characters
; Above: Iris and Roy at the 2015 Tuscon Festival of Books.