Wednesday, August 11, 2021

WAYWARD GIRLS, by authors CLAIRE MATTURRO and PENNY KOEPSEL

The e-book is on sale now for a limited time!

When late-night phone calls summon Jude Coleridge and Camille Prescott back to the Talbot Hall School for Girls, painful memories bombard them. Though estranged for years, both bear the physical and emotional scars from their youth.

At the boarding school, they were branded “the crazy girls, the ones who lie” and became unlikely best friends. They soon formed a trio with a new student, Wanda Ann, who pulled them into her bewildering relationship with the school psychologist, Dr. Hedstrom. But Wanda Ann’s wild stories masked a truth that threatened to engulf them all.

As teens, the girls could only rely on each other as they moved toward an unfathomable, fiery danger. Now, in the crumbling halls of Talbot, hours before the building’s demolition, they must grant forgiveness, to themselves and others, if they are to move forward.

Reviews ~

"Wayward Girls is a story for the times we live in now. As women of all ages demand equality and fair treatment, the shadow of the past looms larger than ever and must never be forgotten. It's a compelling read with characters who stay with the reader long after the book is finished." ~Carolyn Haines is the USA Today and multi-award-winning bestselling author of over 80 novels. 
 
"Wayward Girls" is a portrait of brave sisterhood, infused with beauty and exquisite pain. Your heart will melt with every turn of the page." ~Laura Benedict, Edgar-nominated author of the Bliss House novels and The Stranger Inside.
 
"Wayward Girls delivers suspense, emotional depth, social commentary, and a gripping story. Grab a copy, a box of tissues, and the phone number of your oldest friend, because you're going to want to talk about this one after you turn the last page. It's a terrific book." ~Mary Anna Evans, award-winning author of the Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries, and assistant professor of creative writing at University of Oklahoma.
 
"Emotionally-charged and skillfully written, Wayward Girls is a poignant and heartrending story about trauma, its lifelong hold on one's psyche, and the need for self-forgiveness." ~Kelly Stone Gamble, US Today Best-Selling author.


Q & A with Claire & Penny ~

Q: Let’s see, you and co-author Penny Koepsel have a new book coming out, Wayward Girls (Red Adept Publishing 2021). Please tell us a little about the book, and how it came to be.

CLAIRE: Wayward Girls is a blend of women’s fiction/suspense and psychological thriller in which two women return to the site of their old boarding school on the eve of its demolition and relive the trauma of what happened to them as students there. It is inspired by a true story of tragic events that took place in a Texas wilderness school in the seventies, but our book is 100 percent fiction. Penny and I both attended the same Florida boarding school but different years, so we never met as students. However, when alumna began to connect for a reunion, an English teacher we both adored recommended that we meet each other, and so we started emailing. Once we were at the actual reunion, everyone was telling stories and we decided to write a book.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

CLAIRE: I spent many happy childhood hours on the porch listening to my kith and kin tell stories. This infused me with a love of storytelling, which translated into reading books and then writing books. I started writing short stories and poems in high school, studied creative and nonfiction writing in college, and have gone from there.

PENNY: I began writing short stories in elementary school.  They were typically immature love stories about unrequited love or loss.  I still have one, typed in brown ink from my father’s office.  Occasionally, I accompanied him to his office on weekends.  It was always so much fun.  I sat at his secretary’s desk and used her typewriter to write short stories while he sat in his office and worked.

Q: What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

CLAIRE: Gardening, walking in nature, photography (especially of nature).

PENNY: I have several passions other than writing that include rescuing and fostering animals, working in my garden, and my career as a school psychologist.  My two dogs I rescued, could never find a home for them and cannot imagine life without them.  They give me so much love and companionship.  Working in my garden affords me peace, time to think, and experience gratitude for my blessings in life as I sit outside at night, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the beauty. 

Q: What is something about you that people would surprise people?

CLAIRE: For twenty years I lived in a homemade house in the woods in Georgia in an intentional community of environmentally conscious folks who wanted to get back to the land. Not, you understand just in the country, but in the deep, deep woods. UPS would not deliver to our house. My husband Bill and his friends built the house by themselves. Happiest years of my life.

PENNY: That I used to work for a railroad company; I started out as a stenographer, but later became weary of office jobs and applied for a job as a freight inspector and a foreman in the shops. I was told I could not apply as I was a woman. I replied that I had the seniority and they had to let me apply.  I applied, got the positions, and had to learn how to drive fork lifts, open box car doors, inspect damaged freight and box cars, drive a truck, and be assigned some of the worst areas to travel to such as the docks, refineries, warehouses.  My last position there was a janitor working from 4:00 PM to 1:30 AM so I could do my undergraduate in English and Psychology during the day. 

Q: Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

 

CLAIRE: Not at the moment, though I have been a newspaper reporter, a lawyer, a college teacher and an organic blueberry farmer.

 

PENNY: Yes. Working as a school psychologist, making even the tiniest difference in the lives of children, their families, and ultimately society is so fulfilling.  It can be extremely sad and frustrating at times, but helping to make the difference in one child is huge.  I retired a few years ago, but contract back with a school District part-time.  I love it.  It made my gazillion years of college, internships, research, and dissertation writing worth it. 

 

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

 

CLAIRE: From my own varied experiences, from reading newspapers, stories my friends and family tell, and my imagination.

 

PENNY: I think most of them stem from something I experienced in life be it first or second hand.  Perhaps something I learned about from the news, or from someone else.  I was a shy, quiet, and reflective child and spent time paying attention to others. I have always reflected on my experiences, my feelings and emotions and tactile sensations.

 

Q: Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?

 

CLAIRE: Yes, Mike Lehner, who has been my friend since high school. I trust him to be honest.

 

PENNY: Kate Birdsall with Red Adept Publishing did our line editing and was a joy with which to work. 

 

Q: Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

 

CLAIRE: Barry Hannah and Thomas Rabbitt, who were my creative writing professors in grad school, were both a tremendous influence, albeit in different ways.

 

PENNY: As a child, books like Little Women, Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Shirley Temple books.  I could envision the characters, their feelings and emotions. Lying on the hearth in front of the fireplace as a child, being catapulted to another time and place was memorable.  I learned that books were friends that could take one on an adventure to a different time and place. 

 

Later in life, I discovered Jefferson Bass.  Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Mr. Jon Jefferson. Their “Body Farm” series is a poignant example of being a voice for those who cannot share their story. Jefferson Bass masterfully unravels and delicately re-weaves what the victims could not do. The first book of theirs that I read made such a lasting impression, and they have been role models for me as I strive to be a voice for those less fortunate in both my writing and my profession.


Q: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)

 

CLAIRE: I had tried and failed for three years to get an agent for a couple of serious legal thriller manuscripts when an agent said my stories should be “more fun.” He rejected the manuscript but gave me that great advice, which I took to heart and wrote a funny legal thriller about an eccentric woman attorney. Even before I finished it, I entered the first chapters in a legal fiction contest in which a HarperCollins vice president was involved. Those chapters won first place and led to a four-book run with HarperCollins. Thus, my first book, Skinny-dipping (2004) was the result of listening to good advice and winning a contest—and three years of steady rejections. 

 

PENNY: OMG – don’t know if we have enough time in this blog (LOL). It was time-consuming, discouraging at times, exciting at other times, eye-opening, sobering, and amazing.  We have an amazing agent, Liza Fleissig with Liza Royce Agency.  She supported and encouraged us throughout the entire process, during those times we were so confident, and again during those times when we were discouraged and ready to throw in that proverbial towel.  We also have an amazing publisher, Lynn McNamee.  We could not be where we are today without either one of these phenomenal women. Thank you both so much.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

CLAIRE: These days I am working on another book with some of the same characters that appear in The Smuggler’s Daughter (Red Adept Publishing 2020).

 

PENNY: Marketing Wayward Girls. Thinking about brushing off a manuscript I began working on a few years ago and trying to breathe new life into it. 

 

Q: Is anything in your book or books based on real-life experiences?

 

CLAIRE: Oh, yes. As I had been a practicing attorney in Florida for years, I naturally used some of my own real-life experiences in writing my legal thrillers. The Smuggler’s Daughters is loosely inspired by the infamous (in its time) sinkhole murders in Florida.


PENNY: Wayward Girls is a work of fiction, but some of the events were loosely based on actual events experienced by children and adolescents at private schools, wilderness schools, boot camps and other facilities after being sent there by parents, guardians, or the courts.

Two years after graduating from the private school in Florida, I read a local newspaper article about the death of a female student in a Texas wilderness school. A school psychologist was originally accused of the murder, and there are documented accounts of the death and subsequent legal proceedings.  I communicate with a former student who attended the same school when the student died.  She shared some of the horrors they experienced. I visited the isolated area where the school was located, walked around the area, closed my eyes, and felt the hair raise on the nape of my neck as I imagined the horror the students felt. 

Claire and I both attended the same private girl’s school, though a few years apart and never met.  We were blessed to have had an English professor, Jesse Mercer.  Jesse lit the flame of creativity in me, encouraged me, and was such a source of support for me. When I graduated from the school, I lost contact with Jesse for decades.  However, I never forgot him and thanked him in the acknowledgements section of my PhD dissertation. I was able to locate and contact him in 2004.  We remained in contact for a few years. I sent him a copy of my dissertation with his acknowledgement and he sent me copies of books he wrote. We remained in close contact on a regular basis via email, phone calls, and cards until he passed away several years later. He encouraged me to contact Claire, told me she was an author, graduated a few years after I did, and that he thought we would enjoy meeting each other and had a great deal in common. 

I contacted her, and we did have a lot in common.  We became friends over the internet and phone calls.  A multi-year reunion was being scheduled the next year and I flew to Florida and Claire and I drove to the reunion together. Sometime over the reunion weekend, we decided to write a book about a murder of a student by a school psychologist, at an exclusive girl’s school, the rest is history and breathed life into Wayward Girls.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

 

CLAIRE: There is a scene in Wayward Girls where Jude, one of the main characters, has a panic attack after some shattered glass triggers a PTSD flashback when she is breaking into her old boarding school’s building. Her dog, Carson, a Rhodesian ridgeback, who is based completely upon a friend’s dog (also named Carson), rescues her. The strong connection between Jude and Carson is one of my favorite scenes in any of my books. The very real Carson, and his person, Sally, and I went through a serious hurricane together a few years ago. I can attest to Carson’s steady, calming nature.

PENNY: There were several.  However, sharing them might be a spoiler and I do not want to do that.  I also have scenes that were extremely important, yet difficult for me to write and to read.  Again, no spoilers here either. 

Q: Do you have a favorite character? 

CLAIRE: Jude in Wayward Girls. Maybe Carson is a tie with Jude for favorite character.


PENNY: Probably Camille because I can relate to her.  She was shy, analytic (to a fault at times), athletic, a tomboy and a dare devil. She was involved in school activities both academic and athletic and dreamed of being a writer someday. 

Q: What would your job of choice be if you didn’t write books?

CLAIRE: Book review critic for a newspaper. 

PENNY: Exactly what I am doing now – providing psychological services to children. 

Q: What was the most unique research you had to do for a book? 

CLAIRE: I do extensive research on all my books, which is how I have come to know about forensics, weapons, specific real-life murders like the sinkhole murders, drug smuggling, phosphate mines, and a lot of esoterica. Perhaps my most unique—or certainly the most troubling—research involved what became a full-scale obsession with researching crimes against teenagers which take place in wilderness and other boarding schools targeted toward disciplining “wayward kids.” It’s horrific and such abuses continue to make headlines even today. During the research phrase of Wayward Girls, Penny and I both read trial transcripts, government documents, books, newspapers and other media, and spoke with people who had been students at the wilderness school in Texas. It was exhausting emotionally. 

PENNY: That would have to be all my research and my dissertation “Recidivism in a Short-Term Crisis Stabilization Facility.” I worked for a community mental health agency and was “on call” one night a week and one weekend a month to respond to psychiatric crises in hospitals. We also rotated from our on call/crisis intake and screening position to our day treatment facility and provided group therapy, individual counseling, relaxation therapy and whatever else was needed.  I became aware of the recidivism of certain clients/patients and their mental health disorders. That was my hypothesis for my research and dissertation and the most unique, long term and challenging research.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

CLAIRE: Read. Read. Read. Join a critique group. Take writing classes, online or in person. Consider journalism classes which will teach you to get to the heart of the story in a hurry. Persevere.

PENNY: Don’t give up.  It is okay to set aside your writing at times, but pick it back up again. Do not expect your book to automatically be published the first time.  If it is, you are lucky. When it is critiqued and edited, do not be insulted.  Keep trying, especially if it is your passion.  Have a mentor who can help you, be your sounding board, your cheerleader, your counselor, and your voice of reason. 


Q: What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

 

CLAIRE: The best parts—meeting people. I have met so many wonderful writers and readers who have enriched my life. Downfalls include carpel tunnel and back aches from hours at a computer. 

PENNY: I like beginning with positives so I’ll first mention the best parts.  Writing is truly my passion. I feel inspired to write and afterward enjoy reading the fruits of my labor, albeit I am my own toughest critic.  My downfalls are just that – being my own toughest critic, being a bit obsessive compulsive at times.  I also vacillate between spending too much time at the computer vs. having to make myself get back and write again.  I spend hours on end sitting at the computer, reading, re-writing, sometimes doodling detailed designs on a piece of paper.  I need to work on time management and multi-tasking between being a wife, mother, providing psychological services, taking care of my fur babies, and pursuing my passion for writing.  Taking time for one’s self is important as well.  Meditation, self-reflection, relaxation, enjoying life and time with friends and family can easily be overlooked when trying to juggle too many plates in the air without a break. 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? 

CLAIRE: Thank you. And thank you again. 

PENNY: Thanks to all of you who followed us on Facebook, blogs, emails, and supported us during our long journey to publishing Wayward Girls. It was definitely a long journey, but the fruits of the labor were worth it. 

Q: If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

For a new author of fiction, there was so much to learn.  Because I have no point of reference, I cannot answer this appropriately and defer to my co-author, Claire Matturro, who is better qualified to answer this.  With the exception of a couple of short stories and poetry, I have primarily been published in journals, and a PhD in Psychology dissertation. 

Q: How do you market your work?

PENNY: Since this is my first experience at marketing, my close friend and co-author, Claire Matturro has assisted me in “learning the marketing ropes.”

Q: Favorite band or music?   

PENNY: I can’t identify just one, but some of my favorites include:  Led Zeppelin, The Who, Yes, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Guess Who, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Shawn Phillips, Shake Russell – I could go on and on and have probably overlooked some who have made an impression on me over the years. 

Q: Favorite book and/or movie?

PENNY: Elementary School: it would have been a close race between Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and Little Women.

Middle and High School: Atlas Shrugged, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, Valley of the Dolls, The Hobbit, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Erle Stanley Gardner, Little Women (can’t name just one).

Later Years: I’ll mention those authors in whose books I read and was transported to another time or place and fueled my love of psychological thrillers and mysteries. Jefferson Bass as I mentioned above. These are not in any special order as I adore all of them.  Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Jodi Picoult, Alex Michaelides, John Sanford, Johnathan Kellerman, George Orwell, Delia Owens, Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Claire Matturro, All my Red Adept Publishing author family members.   I know I have inadvertently forgotten someone and I apologize immensely. 

Q: Place you’d like to travel?

PENNY: We lived on Maui for 3 years when I accepted a job with the Hawaii Department of Education as a school psychologist.  I loved living on Maui and have returned several times. The Aloha spirit remains forever.  My dream place to travel would be to Ireland, Scotland, England, and ferry over to France. My husband and I were going to fulfill this dream over the summer, but COVID-19 threw a wrench into our travel plans.

To connect with Claire and Penny:







Penny's social media:

Claire at boarding school (wearing white skirt):


Penny at boarding school (wearing shorts):












 

 

 

Friday, July 9, 2021

THE TIGER MOM'S TALE, by LYN LIAO BUTLER

When an American woman inherits the wealth of her Taiwanese family, she travels to confront them about their betrayals of the past in this stunning debut by Lyn Liao Butler.

Lexa Thomas has never quite fit in. Having grown up in a family of blondes while more closely resembling Constance Wu, she's neither white enough nor Asian enough. Visiting her father in Taiwan as a child, Lexa thought she'd finally found a place where she belonged. But that was years ago, and even there, some never truly considered her to be a part of the family.

When her estranged father dies unexpectedly, leaving the fate of his Taiwanese family in Lexa's hands, she is faced with the choice to return to Taiwan and claim her place in her heritage . . . or leave her Taiwanese family to lose their home for good. Armed with the advice of two half-sisters (one American and the other Taiwanese, who can't stand each other), a mother who has reevaluated her sexuality, a man whose kisses make her walk into walls, and her self-deprecating humor, Lexa finds the courage to leave the comfort of New York City to finally confront the person who drove her away all those decades ago.

With fond memories of eating through food markets in Taiwan and forming a bond with a sister she never knew she had, Lexa unravels the truth of that last fateful summer and realizes she must stand up for herself and open her heart to forgiveness, or allow the repercussions of her family's choices to forever dictate the path of her life.

Reviews ~

"The Tiger Mom's Tale is a heartfelt, delightful read. Lyn Liao Butler's story of Taiwanese and American identity had me turning pages and laughing (and drooling over the delicious descriptions of food)."—Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown, winner of the 2020 National Book Award

One of PopSugar's Best New Summer Books of 2021!

"Sharp and humorous, The Tiger Mom's Tale is a scenic, debut novel with a cast of complicated characters sure to bring laughter and discussion to your next book club. I can't wait to read what Lyn Liao Butler writes next!"—Tif Marcelo, USA Today Bestselling author of The Key to Happily Ever After

"Butler’s riveting debut follows a half-white personal trainer who reconnects with her Taiwanese family after her biological father’s death...Butler weaves in convincing descriptions of Lexa’s navigating of the dating scene and the fetishizing of Asian women, and depicts a fascinatingly complex antagonist in Pin-Yen, who by the end must contend with the effect of her past actions. Butler breathes zesty new life into women’s fiction."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Q & A with Lyn ~

Tell us about yourself and how you started writing.

I used to dance professionally (ballet and modern) in NYC. When I moved to the suburbs, my friends wanted to know what I was doing, “up in the country.” So I started a blog to keep them posted, and those blog posts became the idea for my first book that I wrote in 2015. I had no writing background, hadn’t even taken a writing course except what was needed for school, so it was quite ambitious of me to think I could write a full-length novel.

Where do you get your ideas?

From my life, the people I come in contact with and things I hear in the news. There’s a saying, Be careful of being friends with a writer. You never know if you will end up in their book. That is so true for me. I do get my ideas and inspirations from the people and things I see in life, but I always spin them in a way that most people wouldn’t recognize myself. For instance, I take a trait of someone, or something that happened, and I build a whole fictitious story around it. So even though I’m getting inspiration from the people and events in my life, it’s never about the people or events that sparked the idea.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write? 

Yes! I say this in every interview but Liane Moriarty is my all-time ultimate writing idol. I read her books during a very hard period in my life, when literally everything fell apart. I identified so much with her books, even though they were set in Australia and I live in New York. There’s something magical about her writing; I connected with the themes and feelings expressed in her book so much. I never thought I would be a writer. I’ve always been a voracious reader. But after reading Liane’s books, it inspired me to try writing, to see if I could help someone else with my writing. She is the reason I even thought to write a book, and I credit her with pushing me into this career that I never imagined I would do.

What are you working on now?

My debut and the following book are adult fiction. Because I’m so far ahead in my writing (book 3 is already written and book 4 is being plotted), I started writing YA. My agent encouraged me to try it since I can’t sell another adult book until my current publisher, Berkley, exercises my option. I pitched a YA idea to my agent and she loved it so much that I wrote 40,000 words of it in two and a half weeks. It’s lighter, more rom-com than my adult books, and I’m finding that I’m really enjoying tapping into my inner teenage self.

What was the most unique research you had to do for a book? 

I like to go to the places where I set my books so that I can experience it firsthand. Most recently, I lived in Kauai for two months doing research for Book 3. For some reason, someone always dies in my books, and I was trying to figure out how a character was going to perish in Book 3. After hearing about the flooding that happens during bad storms, I thought that would be a natural way someone could die (yes, I know, kind of morbid to plot out a death). So I went around asking people, “If there was a bad storm and the Wailua River flooded, could someone who can’t swim be swept away and drown?” And when they said yes, I answered with, “Oh, good! Then that’s how she’s going to die!” Which earned me many strange looks as I tried to convince them I was a writer, really, and not someone plotting a murder.

Author of THE TIGER MOM'S TALE, Penguin/Berkley (7/6/2021)

To connect with Lyn:

https://twitter.com/lynliaobutler

https://www.instagram.com/lynliaobutler/

https://www.facebook.com/lynliaobutlerauthor

https://www.tiktok.com/@lynliaobutler

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lyn-liao-butler

Connect with me on Instagram

Check out what's new in my etsy shop, Pinot by Lyn





 

 

Monday, May 24, 2021

YOU WILL REMEMBER ME, by author HANNAH MARY MCKINNON (out May 25th!)

An unputdownable amnesia thriller that begs the question ~ how can you trust anyone when you can't even trust yourself? Forget the truth. Remember the lies. He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. 

But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers. Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind. Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave? Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it. 

Reviews:

"Skillfully plotted and paced, every twist deepens the story until it explodes with an ending that made me gasp.”—Samantha Downing, USA Today bestselling author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It  

 "Riveting, smart, and utterly diabolical."—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45

Q & A with Hannah ~ 

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

Writing novels wasn’t on my radar until we moved from Switzerland to Canada in 2010, and before that I was the CEO of an IT recruitment company. When we arrived here, I started up my own business, but it failed. I had a decision to make—continue on the corporate road or reinvent myself. After a long while (with lots of trepidation and anxiety) I realized what I wanted to do was write novels. My writing career was, essentially, born from failure.

 My debut was a rom com called Time After Time (2016) a light-hearted story about paths not taken. After that I decided I wanted to write grittier stories, and quickly transitioned to the dark side of suspense. The Neighbors published in 2018, Her Secret Son in 2019, Sister Dear in 2020, You Will Remember Me is slated for May 25, 2021, and Book 6 is scheduled for 2022 – all of them in the suspense genre. Sister Dear also published in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It’s an exciting journey to say the least!

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I read a lot, as one might expect, and love being whisked away into the worlds other authors create—thrillers, or otherwise. I love getting outdoors for a hike, I’m a huge fan of the movies (I love the trailers and the popcorn), I go to the gym and participate in a few obstacle runs in the summer (I live for the mud and obstacles, I’m absolutely useless at the running part).

We have three teenage boys, so my husband and I spend time with them as often as they’ll let us. Watching films as a family is one of my favourite things. There’s something deeply comforting about us having a laugh together and just hanging out. Oh, I cook too, and love to bake. I make a mean zucchini-lime loaf, and Mark Bittmann’s No Knead Bread (we like to say “there’s always a need for bread!”). I’m not great with meat, so I leave that to Rob, who’s King of the BBQ in our house.

What is something about you that people would surprise people?

 

Until I wrote my first novel at age 41, I didn’t think I had a creative bone in my body.

 

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

 

Does being the CFO (Chief Flipping Organizer) of a family of five count? Oh, I also run the admin for my husband’s electrical contracting business, but writing takes most of my time.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

So far, I can pinpoint exactly how each book started. Time After Time is a story about a woman who’s unhappy with her life, which was me when we moved to Canada and my company crashed and burned, although the rest of the novel is fictional. The idea for The Neighbors came to me when two houses on our courtyard went up for sale, and I wondered who might move in. Her Secret Son stemmed from a news segment I saw while I was at the gym (wishing I were eating cake instead). Sister Dear was a radio segment about a woman who’d found a wedding ring at a playground and was trying to locate the owner through social media.

 

I’ll elaborate more for You Will Remember Me: A few years ago, a man from Toronto vanished from a ski hill in Lake Placid while there on vacation and showed up six days later in Sacramento. He had amnesia and couldn’t remember much, including the cross-country trip he’d made as he’d hitchhiked across the US. Everything worked out for the man in the end and he found his way home, but it made me wonder—what could have gone wrong? That was the start of my developing You Will Remember Me.

 

Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?

 

It depends on the book. For You Will Remember Me, I asked my fab friend and brilliant author A.F. Brady for input. She’s a psychotherapist and was able to help me figure out a number of plot points I couldn’t get my head around. Her input was invaluable. Generally, though, my editor and agent are the first people to see the complete manuscript.

 

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

 

Jennifer Hillier, no question. While waiting for my son at our local library I spotted her debut Creep on a shelf. Intrigued by the cover, I picked it up, read the blurb, took it home and couldn’t put it down. It was a turning point in my writing career. When I was younger, I mainly read thrillers, but after a personal tragedy in my early 20s, I could only stomach light-hearted reads. Creep reminded me of my love of thrillers, and I realized the second book I was working on, The Neighbors, was far grittier than my debut (rom com Time After Time). Jennifer’s book gave me that final push I needed to cross over to the dark side. Fun fact: we live in the same town and have become great friends. Jennifer is an inspiration to me and fiercely talented, and I have all her books. I’ll read anything she writes!

 

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

 

Getting published—I’d rush less. And I’d take creative writing courses far earlier!


How do you market your work?

In collaboration with my publisher, HarperCollins who are incredibly supportive and have a fabulous team I can’t praise highly enough. I’m also very active on social media and love connecting with other authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers. My author friends are fabulous champions of my novels, too. Their tireless enthusiasm is a balm for the writerly soul and I’m grateful to every single one of them. It really does take a village.

 

What are you working on now?

 

My 6th book (for 2022) is done and in my wonderful editor’s hands. It’s written from the anti-hero’s point-of-view, which I’ve never done before, and is the story of Lucas, who hired a hitman to kill his wife. A month later, Lucas receives a partial photograph of his spouse in the mail. Who sent it? What do they know? And, more importantly, what do they want? I can’t wait to introduce you to my characters! In the meantime, I’m plotting and outlining Book 7, but it’s too early to give anything away.

 

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

No! Thankfully not as I write thrillers. I do sprinkle little details here and there my family would recognize: Superman pajamas, a stuffed toy, mud runs—those kinds of things but otherwise I pull very little from my life. My job is to make things up and it’s a part of the process I thoroughly enjoy.

 

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Probably the ending because it’s twisted and hopefully unexpected. My books generally don’t tie up with a cherry on top because I like it when things made you go “hmmm…” (except if I’m reading romance, then it HAS to work out for everyone)!

 

Do you have a favorite character?

 

They were all interesting to write for many different reasons, predominantly because they’re flawed. Maya was probably the most complex, certainly one of the darkest point-of-view characters I’ve ever written. Although Lily is a sunshine girl, she has her secrets, too, which were fun to explore. As for “the man from the beach,” unearthing him was a longer process, and I kept remining myself that because I knew his history, it didn’t mean he could because of his amnesia.

 

What would your job of choice be if you didn’t write books?

I worked in IT recruitment for fifteen years before coming to Canada. Perhaps I’d still be doing that if I didn’t change careers a decade ago. If I was told I had to stop writing today, then I’d have to find a job in publishing somewhere. I can’t imagine working in another industry now.

 

What was the most unique research you had to do for a book?

Yikes! I bet I’m flagged on databases everywhere. Hiding an extra body at a graveyard without it being detected, muddling a crime scene enough to mess up forensics, how allergy meds can jumble your memory, how a person can die while working under a car, and, more recently, how the dark web works. It’s all for my books though, I promise!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


Read as much and often as you can and listen to audio books. I wrote an article about how the latter make you a better author here. Write, even if you think it’s rubbish, because an empty page is impossible to edit. Another tip someone once suggested was to skip ahead if I couldn’t get a grasp on a chapter or scene, that I should focus on another part of the manuscript and trust myself enough to backfill later. It was revolutionary to me, and it beats the heck out of staring at a blank page or shoving my hand in the cookie jar. 


Also, I was advised to read my manuscript out loud. Every. Single. Word. Doing so helps avoid repetition, improves cadence, and zaps stilted dialogue. I use the Read Aloud function in Word for this, too. And, finally, share your work. It can be scary, but it’s the only way you’ll get feedback and improve your craft.

 

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?


I love the camaraderie of the writing community, it’s like nothing I’ve experienced elsewhere. Authors, readers, agents, publishers—we all love books and it’s truly wonderful. Downfalls? I’ll have to get back to you on that.

  

Favorite band or music?  Favorite book and/or movie?


I listen to all kinds of music (one of our sons shared his Spotify list with me) but I’m useless at remembering the names of singers or bands. Impossible to choose a favourite book although Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is high on the list. My favourite movies are Love, Actually and About Time, both by Richard Curtis. I watch Love, Actually every Christmas when I’m wrapping presents, know most of the words and absolutely adore it.

 

Place you’d like to travel?

Once things go back to normal, I’m looking forward to visiting my family and friends in Switzerland. I can’t wait to get back into the mountains.

  

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

 Readers, reviewers, bloggers and bookstagrammers are so generous with their support and everything they do for the book community. They are creative, insightful, witty, and wonderfully gracious. It’s truly a delight to behold. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you for reading, sharing, and raving about my books. It means the world!

 

Blurb:   “Forget the truth. Remember the lies.

 

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland, wearing only swim trunks and a gash on his head. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth raises more questions than answers.

 

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

 

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

 

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.”

 

Bio:

 

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. While her debut, TIME AFTER TIME, was a rom com, she transitioned to the dark side thereafter. Her suspense novels include THE NEIGHBORS, bestsellers HER SECRET SON and SISTER DEAR, and her forthcoming YOU WILL REMEMBER ME. Hannah Mary lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons. Connect on Facebook and Instagram @HannahMaryMckinnon, and on Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon. For more, visit www.hannahmarymckinnon.com

 

To connect with Hannah ~

Website:         www.HannahMaryMcKinnon.com

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/HannahMaryMcKinnon (@hannahmarymckinnon)

Instagram:       www.instagram.com/HannahMaryMcKinnon/ (@hannahmarymckinnon)

Twitter:           www.twitter.com/HannahMMcKinnon (@hannahmmckinnon)

Goodreads:     www.goodreads.com/author/show/15144570.Hannah_Mary_McKinnon

Bookbub:        www.bookbub.com/authors/hannah-mary-mckinnon