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Interview with Liz Johnson


A two-time Carol Award finalist, Liz Johnson works as a marketing manager by day and a romantic adventurer by night when she writes exciting romantic suspense and contemporary romance to add to her portfolio of Christmas short stories and an award-winning novella. With a degree in public relations, Liz spends time inspiring others to write via speaking engagements wherever people want to discuss writing and books.

Known for her Love Inspired Suspense novels, Liz has opened herself to a new batch of readers with her contemporary romance series, Prince Edward Island Dreams, where the happily ever after stories happen in a place that’s very dear to her heart.

Since I read Anne of Green Gables I’ve been enthralled with Prince Edward Island. How did you choose to write a series set there?

Like so many Anne of Green Gables fans, I fell in love with the island when I experienced it through her eyes and L.M. Montgomery’s words. And when I sat down to write the first book in the series, I knew it could only take place on PEI with its small towns and sweet souls. It’s a place of peace and tranquility, and I wanted to share that in this series.

All three books in the series are set on the north shore at the Red Door Inn. PEI’s lighthouses, gentle waves, and jagged red cliffs feature prominently in all of the stories.

Where did you get the idea of setting this romance in a bed and breakfast?

On my second trip to PEI, we visited North Rustico and walked the 2-kilometer boardwalk around the harbor. It was so gorgeous and incredibly peaceful. I knew I had to set a book there, in a place where the heart can truly find rest.

The only thing I didn’t love about North Rustico was that I couldn’t find a B&B there. As I was walking the well-worn boardwalk, I saw a huge blue house on the low hill above the harbor. I thought it would make a perfect B&B. So I decided to make it one. At least in my books.

Does the title, The Red Door Inn, refer to the red sandstone cliffs of the area known as Green Gables Shore, or is there some other significance?

Oh, I do love the red cliffs and sand of PEI caused by the high iron content in the soil. But the red door came about because of the red doors on the island. On my first trip to PEI, I noticed many private homes had red doors. As my mom and I drove curvy two-lane roads, we were amazed that nearly every other home seemed to feature a bright red entrance, but I had no idea what it meant.

When I researched it, I discovered a number of theories. One stuck with me. Canadian winters are brutal, and whiteout blizzards can strand even the most experienced traveler. So some homeowners paint their doors red, which makes them easier to see through the snow. A red door means safety and a shelter in the midst of the storm. I loved this idea, as the Red Door Inn is just that for each of the main characters in the book.

I read on your blog that you first visited PEI about five years ago. Was it with the idea of researching this series, or did the idea come after your visit?

My first trip to the island was in 2010. I didn’t even have an inkling of an idea for this book yet. That first trip was my mom’s fault. She introduced me to Anne of Green Gables when I was 12, and we watched the TV miniseries over and over.

Then, when I was in college and spending a semester across the country, she sent me her Anne series. I inhaled the first six books, and Anne became the friend I needed. Her island became the home of my dreams.

So when I started writing seriously, I promised my mom that I’d take her to PEI when I sold my first book. She laughed. I’m still not sure if it was because she didn’t think I’d ever sell a book or if she didn’t think I’d spend my money on her. (I choose to think the latter.)

I sold my first book in 2008, but no one told me I wasn’t going to make much money that first year. So I told my mom we’d have to wait for the second book. She laughed again. But in early 2010 I called to tell her to pack her bags—we were headed to PEI. We loved our first trip and kept going back. And it was my time on the island that inspired The Red Door Inn. There’s something in the air there that stirs my imagination. Not so unlike my friend Anne.

During your trip, did you take a plane or boat to the island, or were you adventurous and drove the 8-mile long bridge that connects PEI to mainland Canada?

I’ve only ever taken an airplane—flying into Charlottetown. The Confederation Bridge is a 13-kilometer wonder of engineering! It’s gorgeous and seems to disappear as it crosses the deep blue straight. I’m a little terrified to get out in the middle of the bridge with nowhere to go if something happens, so I haven’t tried that either. With only three ways to reach the island, there’s an element of isolation to the island that is so peaceful.

Your giveaways are great because you include things that relate to your release, like when you gave away a PEI Seaglass necklace, or the PEI Beach Read bag.

Do you have any ideas for Where Two Hearts Meet (Prince Edward Island Dreams, Book 2) or would you rather not say?

Thanks! I’m so excited about giveaways for Where Two Hearts Meet, which is the story of Caden, the executive chef at the Red Door Inn. Caden and Adam, a guest at the inn, share coffee every morning. So when I was on PEI last summer, I picked up coffee cups made from authentic island red clay made by island potters. Plus, I picked up a few other island pottery pieces. I’m also putting together a kitchen giveaway with an apron, oven mitt, colander, and B&B cookbook.

What are you reading now?

I’ve been in the middle of edits for the last month, so I’ve mostly been reading my two books, which release later this year (Where Two Hearts Meet and Hazardous Holiday). But when I have a little bit of free time, I’m working my way through 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and Annex Security Team. The special forces nerd in me is loving it, but the true story of what happened in Benghazi in 2012 breaks my heart. I also have Jill Kemerer’s Her Small Town Romance and Jessica Patch’s Protective Duty on my nightstand.

Finish this sentence: If I could visit the next place on my Bucket List, I would be heading to ____________.

Ireland and Scotland. (I’m going to count that as one destination.) The scenery. The greenery. The accents! I can’t wait to go.

Thanks so much for letting me share about PEI and my books! I love getting to write about my favorite place in the world and the peace and rest I’ve found there.


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and their youngest of 4 kids. She writes historical romance set in Canada and the United States.

Romantic Refinements, Novella 2 in the Austen in Austin Volume 1 collection by WhiteFire Publishing released in January 2016. This 4-novella collection of stories set in historic Austin, Texas is based on the novels of Jane Austen.

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