Please help me welcome Allison Brennan whose suspenseful books will grab you and not let you go until you finish them.
Allison, what color are you favorite pjs? Just kidding, what was your first published book and with whom?
THE PREY, Ballantine, January 2006
How many books did you write before selling one?
THE PREY was my fifth completed manuscript. The first three were completely not publishable. I had some interest in number four before I found an agent, but it was a different genre (a futuristic romantic suspense, a little heavier on the science fiction than most) and when we sold THE PREY we decided to focus on romantic suspense since it was what I loved most.
How many books have you published?
FATAL SECRETS, which will be released on May 19, is my 11th book. I also have a short story in a Lee Child anthology and a novella out; my 12th book CUTTING EDGE will be released on July 28 and a short story in an Elizabeth George anthology will also be released in July.
Your body of work amazes me!
What themes go through your books?
I don’t really think much about themes, but people tell me I have them! I think my underlying message in all my books is that heroic people make sacrifices for the good of others (such as a dedicated cop) and that no one is an island—that even when you are dedicated to a cause you believe in, you are a happier, more complete human being when you can share your joy and pain with someone who loves you unconditionally. I always tackle good vs. evil, obsession vs. commitment, and judgment vs. justice. Some of my books, such as the Kincaid books, also have family as an important theme, and that came up again in CUTTING EDGE when I didn’t expect it. Another common element is that people are more than the sum of their parts; i.e. that everyone we meet and everything we do or that is done to us is only a part of who we are today; equally important is who we are born and how that person we are meets the challenges in front of us. It’s one reason I explore my villains in depth—why do some abused children turn in to killers? (The Butcher in THE HUNT, Aaron Doherty in TEMPTING EVIL) and why do some abused children turn into heroes? (Rowan Smith in THE PREY, Sonia Knight in TEMPTING EVIL.) I find a character’s backstory is hugely compelling because it shines a light on their actions and thoughts, and you know that they will be successful if they can overcome their perceived limitations.
How would you best describe your books?
Romantic thrillers. My story promise is that the hero and heroine will live and be together at the end of the book, and justice will be served. My mom pointed out that my bad guys always die. I had to think about that—I think they all do. Justice is sometimes slow in the real world; I want to make sure that the victims in my books have it before the book is over.
How did you write with kids and deadlines?
Kids have to go to school. It is the law. (And if it’s not the law, don’t tell my kids that!)
As long as I stay focused, I’m fine. I have six hours a day to write without interruption. Sometimes, I procrastinate. Sometimes I get stuck or diverted in research (a major time suck for me!) Then I find myself writing into the wee hours of the night to catch up. I generally write from 9 am – 3 pm, then again from 9 pm until about midnight or 1 in the morning.
Which other jobs have you had?
I was a legislative consultant for thirteen years in the California State Legislature. Before that, a variety of jobs.
What do you love most about writing and do you not like?
I love the story; I love the characters; I love when I’m in the zone and the characters take over and the story flows as if I’m simply the conduit. I also love revisions because that’s taking the skeleton and adding flesh and color.
I do not like copyedits. They feel like work. I don’t want to dissect the story, I want to write it.
Then I get the page proofs, the final copy I read for minor errors, I love it again. I think wow, I actually wrote this? I’m usually in denial.
What are you writing now?
I just finished CUTTING EDGE which is in production (yeah!) and have started book one in my Seven Deadly Sins series which will come out in March of 2010. I’ve very excited about this book.
What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?
What I’m writing. I didn’t start writing to sell; I wrote because I loved to tell stories. So I sold what I love to write, and I still love it. I’m glad that I am now writing a supernatural romantic thriller series because it’s different than the romantic crime thrillers—while still being in the same basic tone and style. Only, there are supernatural elements.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t not write. Writing makes me happy because I love to tell stories. I’ve always had ideas about stories—generally, the characters and I picture them in some odd situation and I need to figure out how they got there. There are times I get frustrated, times when I doubt, and times when I think I’ll never be able to write a book half as good as the previous book. But still, I write.
How do you write?
How? Like on a computer (I have a MacBook and an iMac) or how I come up with the story? I don’t plot. I usually have a premise (such as, “What if a girl is sold into human trafficking by her father but escapes?” –Sonia Knight, Fatal Secrets. “What if there’s an earthquake under San Quentin?” – Prison Break trilogy.) The story goes from there. Sometimes, especially when I’m close to deadline, I’ll try to bullet point out the chapters I think I need to write. Inevitably, by the time I get two chapters into the “outline” I toss it because the story has gone off in another direction.
I write linearly—I rarely, if ever, write a chapter or scene out of order. I used to write one “sloppy copy” then go back and do a heavy edit, then a clean-up edit. Now I edit as I go. I revise what I wrote the day before and get back into the story and write the next chapter. This has helped me write faster, cleaner copy. Then I do a set of revisions with my editor.
Do you write what you know?
Yes and no. I’ve never been a cop, an FBI agent, or a prosecutor, but I do love to research so I try to put myself in their shoes and learn what I’d need to know. But the information is in my head only as long as I’m writing that book. It tends to disappear about the time I start the next book.
What’s next for you?
I have two books in my supernatural thriller series based on the Seven Deadly Sins. An evil occult releases the Seven Deadly Sins from Hell and a group of seven, including a woman who had killed her lover while possessed by a demon after her mother sold her soul; a former seminarian who witnessed a brutal massacre and now has memories he can’t explain; and a skeptical true crime writer; band together to find a way to send the Deadly Sins back to hell. Problem? They are not traditional demons (souls), but fallen angels (spirits) and the rules of traditional exorcisms don’t apply because they don’t need a human body to survive.
The first book is based on the Demon Envy, and begins with a group of teen-age Wiccans who are unknowingly led by an occultist who sacrifices one of the group to release the Deadly Sins from hell. A girl is dead, another missing, and people in the small northern California town begin to act on their jealousy, with deadly results. It’s currently untitled and will be released in March of 2010. The second book is also untitled and based on the Demon Lust and will be released in June of 2010.
I’m also launching a second series, this one a romantic thriller series starring Lucy Kincaid, a character from my NO EVIL series. In the first book, Lucy is a senior in college and becomes the primary suspect in a murder investigation of prominent men suspected of child molestation. It’ll be out in October 2010.
For more information about Allison check her website
Ask her questions, she loves them. Commenting could win you a book.
Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:20 AM | Allison Brennan, Ballantine, Cutting Edge, Fatal Secrets, Romantic thrillers, The Prey | 30 comments »