Double Blind by Iris and Roy Johansen is a heart stopping story. This series has a very original premise and this novel, in particular, has a killer that is unique. Blind from birth, the main character, Kendra Michaels, regained her sight at the age of twenty. Now she is able to use her extensively distinct senses and acute analytical skills to help the FBI thwart bad guys.
This case literally came to her after a woman is found dead with an envelope having Kendra’s name on it. It contains a memory stick of a wedding video. What soon becomes apparent is that the wedding party has been targeted by a serial killer who strives to get the maximum number of victims by inflicting emotional and physical pain. Through the investigative process Kendra and company realize that the killer is connected to a mercenary organization.
This mother/son collaboration make a great team, able to write edge-of-your seat suspenseful stories with compelling characters. The twists in Double Blind can lead readers to be blind-sided so be forewarned.
Elise Cooper: What is like writing with your son/mother?
Iris Johansen: We write in the same manner and are able to play off one another. I take a part of the book and write some, then Roy does the same. We edit each other. It is great fun!
Roy Johansen: We talk a lot before we begin, discussing the characters and the story. We have a pretty good idea of the premise and where we are headed after six books. We are constantly surprising each other in a way that we also want to surprise readers.
EC: Does one have veto power over the other?
IJ: We do not have veto power, but we do have argue power. For instance, I wanted to kill off a character at one point, even though we both liked them. For me, characters are everything with our books. If you read something you did not know or think something is really clever, that is usually Roy. With the characters, we consider them both of ours and have become invested in them.
RJ: Mom wanted to kill off this main supporting character in the very first book because she is blood thirsty with her characters. I had to talk her out of that one. Everyone should rest assured, because at this point there is no way we could eliminate them. I know we made the right decision. After going on a book tour with mom, I saw how people love her characters and are very invested in them.
EC: Both of you write the characters?
RJ: With one exception. Mom’s character, Eve Duncan, was featured the Kendra books. It was just right for her to do those scenes. BTW: Kendra has actually appeared in three Eve Duncan books: Sleep No More (as a supporting character), Hunting Eve (a major character), Finding Eve (more of a cameo in the first chapter), and Eve appears in the last quarter of the Kendra book The Naked Eye.
EC: So how did the main character Kendra Michaels come about?
RJ: We started with Kendra even before we wrote one word of the story. The way mom writes characters influenced the creation of this person. I write most of the intricate explanations of what Kendra does. We wanted to create a classic detective that could, with their powers of observation and deduction, seeing some things no one else could see. There was a lot of time spent on making sure she was different; yet, maintains the classic detective traits.
EC: Can you describe her?
IJ: She is complicated, brisk, cautious, loyal, and impatient. She has difficulty with those who she considers lazy in doing their job. She has a colorful history from those wild days after she was given her sight. Kendra always speaks her mind, especially with her FBI counterparts.
EC: Kendra’s skills came from when she was blind?
RJ: We came up with the idea of having her formally blind for her first twenty years of life. Like most blind people she grew up fine tuning her other senses to compensate. Now that she has her sight, thanks to a rare, successful stem cell surgery, she is able to pick up sounds and smells that most others do not even pay attention to. She soaks up the world around her, including her sight.
EC: Is it hard to have Kendra deduce something, but make it believable?
IJ: We need to present the problem, explain it away, make sure the reader understands it, and that it makes sense to them. We have to make sure that there is a balance and not put in too many of those scenes. We want to give a wonderful ride, but also make sure there is a balance and that those scenes are not overwhelming.
RJ: It is hard to write these scenes because it must contribute to the flow of the story. What she observes must move the story forward. This is incredibly time consuming. I think the most challenging part of the book is to make those scenes work in a variety of ways. We want to make sure Kendra does not have super powers. She can see, hear, and smell things, which anyone else can if they were paying attention. What makes her special is how she trained herself to pay attention.
EC: Did you speak to anyone who was blind?
RJ: I talked to a blind woman to get a sense about what it is like. I was impressed how she compensated with other senses. It is something she does to make her way in the world. What she told me was very inspirational. One of our favorite fan letters was from a blind person who said she played the audio book and felt it was true to life.
EC: Why make Kendra’s other job as a music therapist?
RJ: It is based on my sister Pam’s profession. It is something Kendra could do even when she was blind. It is how people can communicate, and is really unexplored territory.
EC: Can you describe the main male character, Adam Lynch?
RJ: Traditionally a loner, not a team player, sometimes of a prickly nature. He is a free-lance operative. Through Kendra he is learning to work and play well with others. He is very much his own man with a steely confidence. His hated nickname is ‘Puppetmaster,’ because one of his talents is having people bend to his will. He can be very persuasive, a master of manipulation.
EC: The romantic tension heats up between Kendra and Adam Lynch?
IJ: The relationship takes a major leap in this book. We do play around with this attraction. There has always been Kendra’s distrust of a commitment. Right now, she is pulling back because she does not want to be hurt by this sexy, smart, cocky, and dominant man. Even though she sees everything, sometimes where Lynch is concerned she is blind to the clues he offers.
EC: While she was blind, her determined, brilliant mother, Deanna, decided that Kendra was going to grow up to be extraordinary?
IJ: In Kendra’s world, she is and has been independent. Her mom helped her in that personality. She would not be who she is today if not for her mom who was tough and caring. A mother can be a whole family to a child. This is why we put in the book quote about her mother who made “certain that Kendra didn’t miss one bit of the experience because of the darkness, memories…the triumphs and hope and remember all the joys that she had experienced with her mother through the years. No one could have been a stronger or more loving mother than Deanna. Kendra wanted to reach out, touch her, and relive those years that had bound them together in the darkness and in the light.”
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
IJ: A murder takes place at Kendra’s former school for the blind. There will be some scenes where this book left off. My book out in October, Vendetta, is not an Eve book, but does bring back a former character, Catherine Ling. There will be a surprising connection for those old Eve fans.
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Double Blind (Kendra Michaels #6)
And so the hunt is on for a killer whose nightmarish plan is slowly becoming clear. A plan that involves a powerful law firm and a multi-billion dollar corporation. As the body count rises, Kendra joins forces with private investigator Jessie Mercado and agent-for-hire Adam Lynch to stop the plot as it grows ever closer to its terrifying conclusion.
In Double Blind, Iris and Roy Johansen deliver an emotional, gripping new entry in the bestselling Kendra Michaels series.