Climb into the mind of a killer: Lucas hired a hit man on the dark web to get rid of his outrageously rich and equally annoying wife but a month after her disappearance a photograph with a cryptic note shows up on his doorstep. Somebody knows what he did, and now they’re coming for him…
Missing wife. Happy life.
Lucas Forester didn’t hate his wife.
Michelle was brilliant, sophisticated and beautiful. Sure, she had extravagant
spending habits, that petty attitude, a total disregard for anyone below her
status. But she also had a lot to offer. Most notably: wealth that only the one
percent could comprehend.
For years, Lucas has been honing a flawless plan to inherit Michelle’s fortune. Unfortunately, it involves taking a hit out on her.
Every track is covered, no trace left behind, and now Lucas plays the grieving husband so well he deserves an award. But when a shocking photo and cryptic note show up on his doorstep, Lucas goes from hunter to prey.
Someone is on to him. And they’re closing in.
Told with dark wit and a sharply feminist sensibility, Never Coming Home is a terrifying tale of duplicity that will have you side-eyeing your spouse as you dash to the breathtaking end.
Author interview ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I was born in the UK to British & Swiss parents and grew up in the German-speaking part of Switzerland for the most part. After high-school I moved to Geneva to learn French for a year…which led to me staying in the French-speaking part of Switzerland for over two decades. I have two business degrees and was the CEO for a pan-European IT recruitment company before moving to Canada in 2010. I married Rob, my Canadian rock, in 1999, and we have three sons, including identical twins.
My writing career was largely born from failure when my Canadian start-up tanked. I had the option of working in a corporate environment again or to try something else. Eight book deals later, and although change was hard and challenging, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I love getting outdoors and going to the movies. I live for the previews! I enjoy swimming and recently acquired a water rower, which is a fantastic and peaceful workout.
How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)
Always with a cup of PG Tips tea (milk and sweetener, please) and a hug from my husband (and kids, if they let me, lol).
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
…having a tidy desk! For me, a cluttered space = a cluttered mind.
What career did you think you’d have as an adult?
I remember telling my dad when I was about thirteen that I wanted to own a company. Not a huge surprise considering I grew up in the eighties when Wall Street and shoulder pads reined supreme. When I became a shareholder of the IT recruitment company. I worked for in Switzerland at age 26, I accomplished that dream and shifted the goal posts to becoming the boss, which I did age 35 when I was promoted to CEO. I’ve always been very driven, which definitely helped with my writing career.
What is something about you that people would surprise people?
I only attended school in English for three years, from age 8-11. The rest of my studies were in German and French, so I never took English literature (sorry, Shakespeare)! Oh, and my maiden name is Abplanalp, a very traditional Swiss name that has a story about a baby, a crib, and a landslide https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abplanalp
Where do you get your ideas?
So far, I can pinpoint exactly how each book started. Book 1, 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 HR company crashed and burned, although the rest of the novel is fictional. The idea for book 2, The Neighbors, came to me when two houses on our courtyard went up for sale, and I wondered who might move in. Book 3, Her Secret Son, stemmed from a news segment I saw while I was at the gym (probably wishing I were eating cake instead).
Book 4, 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. Book 5, You Will Remember Me, was inspired by the true story of a man who vanished from a ski hill in Lake Placid and showed up six days later in Sacramento with amnesia.
Book 6, Never Coming Home, was different – this one was character driven. I wanted to write a story from a male antagonist’s point-of-view, and Lucas literally popped into my head and said, “Ta-daa! Okay, I’m here, get writing!”
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?
Gosh, working in publishing in some capacity, I hope. Now I’ve been in the industry for years, I don’t want to leave.
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
Fellow crime author A.F. Brady and bookstagrammer Sonica Soares have read my last three and two before anybody else. They’re extremely insightful and give brilliant, candid feedback, which is exactly what I need.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
Long-standing favorite authors are Lisa Jewell and David Nicholls, but it was one of my closest friends, Jennifer Hillier, whose debut novel Creep propelled me to the dark side of suspense. We didn’t know each other at the time, but when I discovered her work it reminded me of my love of thrillers, and that I wanted to write edgier stories.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
I made a lot of mistakes before my first novel was published, including rushing to submit the manuscript to an agent before it was truly ready. After editing it for two years, taking creative writing courses, and reading a lot, I managed to secure representation. If I’d taken those classes and learned about the industry earlier, it may not have taken as long…but the rejections it kept my feet firmly on the ground, and made me even more determined.
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 readers, reviewers, and bloggers. My author friends and bookstagrammers / book bloggers 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?
Book 7 (slated for 2023) is another psychological thriller. It’s about a woman named Frankie who has some anger issues, and writes a list of people she could work to forgive as a therapy exercise. She thinks nothing of it when she loses her list in an Uber, until one by one the individuals become victims of freak accidents. Frankie desperately tries to determine if the tragedies are indeed accidental, and if not, who’s behind them before someone else gets hurt, especially as one of the names on the list is her own… I’m so excited for this next novel and can’t wait for you to meet Frankie and the rest of my cast next year.
Is anything in NEVER COMING HOME based on real-life experiences?
Heck, no! I’ve never been on the dark web, let alone felt the need to hire a hitman. Thankfully, my books aren’t true crime. I do sprinkle details here and there that my family would recognize: I was born in Manchester like Lucas, and worked in recruitment. 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. Besides, I’ve found the more I write the more I invent—my life isn’t that interesting J
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene in NEVER COMING HOME?
More than one! I loved writing the scenes with Bobby and Lucas, especially the banter between them. There’s a scene in a forest that was creepy and unsettling to write, and I’m glad I did so with the lights on. I’m a visual person, so I was describing what I pictured in my head, which was a little gruesome. To counterbalance that, Lucas’s one-liners and wry sense of humor made me chuckle, and he kept pushing me to explore his character further. But if I must pick a favorite chapter then it has to be the last two. I cackled as I wrote them. Out loud.
Do you have a favorite character in NEVER COMING HOME?
Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”
More mayhem and murder. I love crime fiction and am very happy in this genre. Does that sound weird? J
What was some unique research you had to do for NEVER COMING HOME?
This novel took me to some very strange places. First, I needed to understand the dark web, and I listened to several podcasts about it, which were both fascinating and disturbing. I had to spend a lot of time thinking like a criminal, all the way from pickpocket to murderer. I also spoke to the former commander of Ontario’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team and an emergency physician to get the medical details right. As always, my go-to policing and crime scene advice came from retired Detective Sergeant and fellow author Bruce Robert Coffin, and Forensic Detective Ed Adach. I swear they keep helping me get away with fictional murder and we have a blast doing so.
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. And, finally, share your work. It can be scary, but it’s the only way you’ll get feedback and improve your craft. Speaking of feedback: try not to take it personally. It’s unlikely lip service will get you where you want to be.
Favorite band or music? Favorite book and/or movie?
I listen to all kinds of music but I’m useless at remembering the names of singers or bands. Impossible to choose a favourite book, but one of my favourite movies is Inception because it’s so utterly brilliant. The other is still Love, Actually. I watch it every Christmas when I’m wrapping presents, know most of the words and absolutely adore it. I’m also partial to the Marvel movies, particularly when watched in chronological order of when they take place as I got so many “Aha!” moments that way.
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?
Have you heard about First Chapter Fun on Facebook and Instagram? It’s one of the good things that came out of the pandemic. Back in March 2020, when Covid first hit Canada, I was in a Messenger chat with a group of authors, discussing how we could help promote one another and give our books a boost. I half-jokingly offered to read the first chapter of their novels on Facebook and Instagram, and within a few days I had over 40 daily readings lined up and launched First Chapter Fun. I read for 53 days in a row (didn’t think the “must do hair and make-up” thing through very well), introducing viewers to a new novel and author each day.
In May 2020, I teamed up with my partner-in-fictional-crime, powerhouse author Hank Phillippi Ryan. We created a new Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/firstchapterfun and www.instagram.com/firstchapterfun. We read twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday (the days with a “T) on both platforms simultaneously at 12.30 pm ET, and often have book giveaways. All the previously aired episodes are saved and can be viewed at leisure. It’s a wonderful community where we share the love of books and introduce new and/or new-to-you authors twice a week. Our goal is to keep your “to be read” pile completely out-of-control and, or so we’ve been told, we’re succeeding. Hank and I have also become great friends and talk all the time, something for which I’ll be eternally grateful.
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, and bestsellers HER SECRET SON, SISTER DEAR, YOU WILL REMEMBER ME, and NEVER COMING HOME. 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
First Chapter Fun www.firstchapterfun.com