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 Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty.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.
"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.”
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 ~