Get Lost with NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Joan Johnston

Bitter Creek Series #11 & Mail Order Brides #3

The sensational third novel in Joan Johnston’s new Western historical romance series set in the world of Bitter Creek.


When Karl Norwood’s mail-order bride meets an untimely demise on the way to the Montana Territory, Hetty Wentworth steps in to take her place. Hetty has no idea how she’s going to pretend to be all the things she isn’t—including the mother of two kids. She only knows her deception is necessary if she’s going to save two orphans from the awful fate she suffered as a child.

Karl smells a rat when a much younger woman than he was expecting arrives with two children who look nothing like her. But his mail-order bride is so beautiful, he doesn’t object—until he realizes that his charming new wife has been lying . . . about everything. Can a woman forced to keep secrets and a man hindered by distrust ever hope to find happily ever after in each other’s arms?

Now to learn more about Joan Johnston!

DONNELL:  I’m having a fan girl moment  having Joan Johnston on Get Lost in a Story.  True story.  Years ago, I’d just finished reading a Joan Johnston novel when I in my capacity of PPRW VP of membership, I received an e-mail from a Joan Johnston saying she’d moved to Colorado and would like to attend our holiday party.  I stared between the book on my right to that e-mail and typed back, saying… We’d love to have you… Er…are you THE Joan Johnston?  And she was!  And very nice as well.  So this is a particular honor.  Anyway, enough about that I’m sure readers couldn’t care less and want to get to know Joan Johnston.   Joan, do you spend all your time in Colorado or do you travel between states?

JOAN:   I’m currently living full-time in Colorado.  Most of my travel these days is to conferences (I’m speaking for Craftfest at Thrillerfest in New York in July, as well as at the RWA National Conference in San Antonio, also in July), or to do research.  Funny story:  I came to Denver two years ago in the fall to do research for MONTANA BRIDE (traveling to the Bitterroot Valley), and it was so beautiful that I just had to move back to Colorado from Florida.  I made the move on January 2 – to a frigid Colorado, followed by a 100-year flood in August! 

DONNELL:  You’ve spent a lot of time with this Bitter Creek Series.  It’s made you wildly successful and a favorite among readers.  Does writing this series get old?  How do you keep inspired week after week?

JOAN:   The best part about writing a series is being able to tell “the rest of the story.”  I write family sagas, so there’s always another child out there somewhere waiting to make an entrance.  Right now I’m writing another Bitter Creek series for Random House which features “King’s Brats.”  They’re King Grayhawk’s three youngest daughters and live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I had to invent rivals for them, and created “those Flynn boys” who have as many run-ins with the Teton County sheriff as “King’s Brats.”  The first book in this series, Sinful, will be in stores in November.

DONNELL:  I Imagine you hear a lot from your readers.  What is the most unusual fan letter you’ve ever received?

JOAN:  Here’s what the writer wrote:  “I know you have a staff of hundreds and will never see this letter but I wanted to tell you how much I love your books.”   Okay, all you readers out there, I still clean my own toilets!

DONNELL:  You’re a lawyer by trade but clearly you love romance.  How did you make the transition from lawyer to author?

JOAN:  I became an author while I was a lawyer.  In fact, I became a writer because I was a lawyer.  I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree both in Theatre and was a director of theatre and drama critic before I went to law school (so I could make more money as a lawyer).  I ended up practicing “local government” law—municipal and industrial development bonds—which meant preparing arbitrage statements and reading 80-page single-spaced water and sewer indentures. B-O-R-I-N-G.  I also had a 6-month-old and a 6-year-old at home.  I was trying to be Superwoman and failing.  If I was home with my kids, I’d never make partner.  While I was at the office long hours, I missed my kids.  I started reading romance novels to escape from the stress (the woman faces great adversity and always triumphs in the end).  I wrote my first book, A Loving Defiance, on a typewriter while I was still a lawyer and sold it to Simon & Schuster in 1984.  It was published in 1985.

DONNELL:  Mail Order Bride series are enormously popular…So put yourself in your character’s place and, all right, back into the 1800s.  Would you become a mail order bride?

JOAN:  If it meant a chance to have a better life, yes, I would.  Arranged marriages were the norm for centuries and folks managed to raise families together and even to be happy in them. 

DONNELL:  Do you have an all- time favorite character among your series, then turn this, is there a character you couldn’t wait to get away from, e.g. bump off?

JOAN:  I love North Grayhawk in The Next Mrs. Blackthorne, and Bad Billy Coburn, who’s featured in The Cowboy, The Texan, and The Loner (all Bitter Creek novels). 
 For some reason, all my villains are very powerful women.  And I kill most of them off.

DONNELL: When you’re not writing, where will we find you?

JOAN:  On the tennis courts, on a hiking trail, or at a Denver Broncos football game!

DONNELL:  What’s something you have in your closet that not many people have?

JOAN:  A purple wool coat from London.  I saw a woman wearing one in London when I was visiting to attend Wimbledon (the tennis competition), asked her where she got it, and tracked it down in the town of Wimbledon.

DONNELL:  If you could meet anyone, past or present, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Eleanor Roosevelt.  She was a liberated woman way ahead of her time.  Gracious, proud, fair, and a survivor.

Joan, thank you!  I’m so happy I cornered you and you accepted our invitation.  Now it’s your turn, time to ask Readers a question.

JOAN WANTS TO KNOW:  I’d like to ask readers:  How many of you are now reading your books digitally?  I’m working on some books that will be available as e-books only, so I’m wondering if my audience will come along with me on that journey.

Sign up on my Website, www.joanjohnston@mindspring.com to win a free autographed book.  Also, like me at www.Facebook.com/joanjohnstonauthor or find me at www.twitter.com/joanjohnston.


  1. Joan, welcome to Get Lost in a Story. I read both. But there's something about holding a book in my hand and being able to look at the cover. I don't think electronic will ever replace paper entirely. Thanks for being our guest today!

  2. Awesome to have you with us, Joan. We met several years ago when RWA was in Denver. It was a lovely party you hosted in your home. Love your books !

  3. Lizbeth, isn't that Chris Ryan on the cover of Heartbeat?

  4. Hi, Joan. I love your books, so, yes, I'll read them electronically if I can't get them in print. Our house is overflowing with print books, and my Kindle Fire is loaded with lots of books. It depends on what mood I'm in as to which format I read at any given time. Keep 'em coming.

  5. read print and ebooks

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  6. I read both but have gotten to where I will choose an ebook over a print because it is so much easier to read on my kindle because of print size.

  7. I enjoy both ebooks and print books! Lovely to have you here in Colorado, Joan!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. What a great interview...Donnell asks just the right questions to get readers to appreciate authors they weren't previously acquainted with; like myself in this case.
    I have yet to finish one e-book!! As hard as I try I just forget about them whenever one of my paperbacks is nearby with an attractive cover just waiting to be read. That's likely not the norm for most people, but it's simply the truth in my

  10. Hi Joan. I read both paper and digital, but find myself reading more e-books lately. Partly because it's easier to store books and I can also increase the font size when my eyes are feeling strained. I just wish the books that have step-back covers would also include them in the e-book.

    Marcy Shuler

  11. Replies
    1. Some paperbacks have an image just inside the cover of the book--it's generally a larger image, and features the couple in an embrace. A bit fancier than a normal paperback cover...

    2. Here's a beautiful example of a stepback cover from a book I love.

      A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Sarah MacLean.

      Marcy Shuler

  12. Welcome to the blog, Joan! I read both e-book and print, but I tend to read more print books. Guess I'm just old-fashioned! :)

  13. Hi Joan welcome to Colorado again! And YOU are the one to blame for that 100-hr flood, eh? Just teasing. Donnell, another wonderful interview! Thanks for bring Joan to us. I too have been a long-time Joan Johnston fan. As for reading . . . I am a practical girl, so I get most of my books on Kindle now, and if I absolutely LOVE it, I will then buy the paperback. And if I was really crazy about it, I'll buy another kindle version (or two) and pop it over to one of my daughters or a friend as a gift 'cause it's affordable and uber simple. All I need is her email and my instant gift is just a click away!

    1. Bought! Can't wait to read. Sigh, TBR pile just keeps on growin'