From Fantastic Fiction
Iris Johansen was born on April 7, 1938. She worked for a major airline for many years and traveled extensively. After her two children, Tamara and Roy, left home for High School, she decided to devote her newfound free time to writing. Since she loved reading romance novels, she penned a love story, and found to her surprise that "I was just as voracious a writer as I was a reader." During the 1980's, her name was emblazoned on dozens of slender volumes featuring spirited adventuresses, passionate mystery men and smoldering love scenes. These days, Iris is one of a posse of former romance writers dominating the *New York Times* bestseller lists: Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Tami Hoag, Sandra Brown and Tess Gerritsen all came up through the category-romance ranks.
Iris Johansen's writing hobby became a career after she sent her first romance novel in to Bantam Loveswept. Early on in her career, she developed the habit of following characters from book to book, sometimes introducing minor characters in one novel who then become major figures in another. She developed families, relationships and even fictional countries in her romance novels, which "stretched the boundaries of the standard formulas," according to Barbara E. Kemp in *Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers*. In 1991, she broke out of category romance (a term for short books written to conform to the length, style and subject matter guidelines for a publisher's series) with *The Wind Dancer*, a romantic-suspense novel set in 16th-century Italy. She followed it with two sequels, *Storm Winds* and *Reap the Wind*, to form a trilogy, then wrote several more stand-alone romance novels before *The Ugly Duckling* was published in 1996. *The Ugly Duckling*was her first book to be released in hardcover, and the first to significantly broaden her readership beyond her romance fan base. Since then, her plots have gotten tighter and more suspense-driven; critics have praised her "flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting" (*Publishers Weekly*). Some of her most popular books feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, who first appeared in *The Face of Deception* in 1998. But she seems equally comfortable with male protagonists, and her books have crossed the gender division that often characterizes popular fiction. Indeed, *Publishers Weekly* called *The Search* "that rarity: a woman's novel for men."
Now, Iris Johansen is a bestselling writer, who has more than twenty million copies of her books in print and has won many awards for her achievements in writing. "My writing schedule is very disciplined. I try to be up in my office by nine every morning and I work until I've completed at least ten pages. Sometimes that takes four or five hours, sometimes ten or twelve. It depends on the flow, the research, and the pace at which the characters are moving the story. There are times when the story is streaking like a bullet. Then I just hang on and stay with it. I do have a research assistant, my daughter, Tamara. I wouldn't know what to do without her. She's invaluable in finding out both the small details and the big picture, though I do make her want to pull her hair out in frustration sometimes when I ask her if there isn't a way we can make a certain plot point happen. But then she starts to dig and quite often comes up with a way that can be truthful and factual and still keep my story humming."
Iris lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where she is currently at work on a new novel, while her daughter, Tamara Brooking, serves as her research assistant. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist, and they have collaborated in some projects.