Today I am welcoming NYT bestselling author Allison Brennan here to my little spot on the web! Hi Allison! *waving frantically* I am ecstatic to have you here today. I know how busy you are with all your fantabulous book writing and awesome mom skills, so I won’t keep you to long.
No, I’m always this giddy…seriously. Ok, maybe just on my blog where I get to talk to super cool authors like you. So come in, sit down and let’s chat!
When did you realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career? What was the catalyst?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer—when I say always, I mean from the time I was little and took reams of fresh lined paper and started scribbling incoherent stories that I never finished. When I was 13, I wrote a fan letter to Stephen King after I read THE STAND and told him I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. His response? “If you want to be a writer, write.”
I didn’t get it at 13, but I get it now. Writers write.
I “got serious” in March of 2002, ten months after my son was born. I was over 30, married, with three kids and burned out on my then ten-year career in the California State Legislature. I had been writing on and off my entire life, but it was at that point I decided that if I wanted to be published I had to finish one of the many stories I’d started. Once I flipped that inner switch and committed myself to finishing a book, I never considered that I wouldn’t be published. I also realized that no one in the world cared whether I published . . . except me. I had to want it. I had to make writing more than a hobby.
You have led such an amazingly full life even before you began writing. I think it’s awesome that you decided what you wanted and then went for it. You’re right…if you don’t want it bad enough, it just won’t happen.
How do you handle writing AND being the mother of 5 children?
I don’t sweat the small stuff. I have very little life outside of my writing and my family. In fact, I have very few friends from my “past life” because they couldn’t understand my need to write. Those I retained I would give my life for because they stood by me even when I wasn’t a good friend, hiding away in my bat cave writing. My closest friends I made early in my writing career, and I lean on them when I need a shoulder.
But the truth is, many mothers work full-time. I’m no different from any working mom. Writing is my vocation, it fulfills me, but it’s also my job. Like all working mothers, I have to prioritize—family, writing, and the rest. I don’t worry about my house being clean or if I volunteer enough at church or the school; I can’t. I support my family with my writing, therefore I have to take it seriously—but I also have a family who depends on me to be a mom first. My kids also know that writing makes me happy—with all the headaches and stress of a writing career, there is nothing I would rather do. Writing is such a part of me that without it, I would be a lesser person. I think my kids get that. At least the older ones do!
Seriously, I totally get this. You make it seem so easy thought lol..I feel frazzled and I only have two kids. I’m soon going to be back working full-time for the first time in 7 yrs..I will be thinking “what would Allison do” LOL
Of the novels you have written which would you say was the hardest for you? Why?
Whichever book I’m currently writing is always the hardest. With every book, there is a point where I think I’ll never finish, it’s total crap, it’ll never be a fraction as good as the last book.
You must do extensive research with your novels. How do you go about it?
For my first few books, I did most of my research by taking on-line classes through the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America, plus asking friends and acquaintances for information. Before I published, it was hard to get people to talk to me about how to disable a car or how to poison someone! Now, having sixteen books out helps. At least people don’t think that I’m a psychopath!
I still use books as my primary research tool. I read a lot of true crime—mostly recent crimes—to keep up with forensics and what law enforcement faces today. I keep up-to-date with the news.
But I also do a lot more hands on research. I’ve toured the morgue and have a contact in two M.E. offices. I participated in the FBI Citizens Academy which gave me access to a slew of FBI agents with expertise in different areas. Through that, I’ve participated as an “extra” (either a victim or a bad guy) in SWAT training exercises—I’m doing another one in March. I’ve toured Quantico, FBI Headquarters in Washington, and been invited to briefings on cases the FBI has closed. I have a local ride-along planned with local law enforcement, and when I get a chance to talk to an expert in virtually anything, I take it . . . even if I can’t use it at the time.
Research is important, but what’s more important is that the reader doesn’t know you’ve done research. The facts and details should blend into the story as unobtrusively as possible.
I find all that completely fascinating. I would love to be able to talk to some of those professionals and pick their brains a little bit. Their jobs are both extremely important and interesting. Though I’m not sure I could stomach some of those crime scenes!
Tell us what you have in the works? What can we expect this year from you?
I’m currently writing the third Lucy Kincaid book, IF I SHOULD DIE, which will be out late 2011. I’m also writing a couple short stories, one on spec, and one for the Romantic Thriller anthology coming out from the International Thriller Writers and MIRA in the summer of 2012, edited by Sandra Brown.
Speaking of what’s coming up…when do we get another “Sin” novel? I need more Rafe! 🙂
I love Rafe and Moira! I don’t know when MORTAL SIN, the third book, will be released. It was postponed, and I don’t have any details on it. I hope to know more this summer.
Well you just let me know when you know! LOL. I love those two together and the story line of the 7 deadly sins is something I really enjoy reading. It’s very “Da Vinci Code” and I love stuff like that.
Who is on your TBR pile right now? Do you even have time to read?
I’m currently reading an ARC of PLAY DEAD by Gemma Halliday which will be out late Spring 2011. I am loving it! I also have a JD Robb at the top of my pile, and the newest Taylor Jackson thriller by J.T. Ellison, SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH. Plus, I have STALLING FOR TIME: My Life as a Hostage Negotiator by Gary Noesner, and what I call my “classic” reading, A KISS WHILE DYING by Ira Levin which I can’t wait to get to.
As far as time . . . I don’t have as much time to read as I used to. During my maternity leave with my son in 2001, I read 77 books. During my maternity leave with my daughter in 2003—after I started seriously writing—I read 4 books. Now, I try to read at least one book for pleasure each week. Since I’m a fast reader, it’s usually something I read on a Sunday afternoon.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?
Write every day, even if you delete it tomorrow. Learn to be self-critical without being self-destructive. Learn to edit ruthlessly. Write what you love, because your passion for the story will show on the page. Writing is not easy, staying published is not easy, but no one promised it would be.
If you could go back and change anything (professionally) would you? And what would it be if yes.
I don’t look at the past with regret because my mistakes yesterday make me who I am today.
Tell us something that might not be widely known about you.
Is this a trick question? LOL. Okay . . . I’m a huge procrastinator. I’ve never turned in a book early. I figure I write about 300,000+ words for every 100,000 word novel between my own editing and my revision notes from my editor. I’m a college drop-out (though I’ve never kept that a secret) even though I went to a college prep school on scholarship.
Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of sixteen romantic thrillers and several short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Brennan “A master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” Lee Child said about her latest book, “A world-class nail-biter … Brennan is in the groove with this one.” And Lisa Gardner says, “Brennan knows how to deliver.”
Allison is a member of International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the Horror Writers Association. Her current release, KISS ME, KILL ME, is the second book in the Lucy Kincaid romantic thriller series. Book three, IF I SHOULD DIE, will be out late in 2011.
For fun Allison enjoys wine tasting, swimming, high school sports, playing video games, and—of course–reading. She lives near Sacramento, California with her husband and five children.
Allison has graciously said she will give away a copy of her book Kiss Me, Kill Me, the second book in her Lucy Kincaid series! All you need to do is leave her a meaningful comment on this post and also include an email address where I can locate you if you win! Thank you so much to Allison for stopping by and chatting with me and of course for hosting a giveaway!
KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE
Lucy Kincaid has firsthand experience dealing with deadly criminal predators, and she’s fully prepared to share her many talents with the FBI. But when her career plans are derailed, her boyfriend, security expert Sean Rogan, asks for help on his latest private investigation. Using her well-honed cyber-hunting skills, Lucy is soon on the trail of a missing teenage girl with a penchant for disappearing—and a shocking secret life.
FBI Agent Suzanne Madeaux is also tracking someone: a serial killer on the loose in New York City. Dubbed by the press the Cinderella Strangler, he cruises seamy underground sex parties, where drug-fueled women make for easy pickings. As Lucy and Sean’s desperate search collides with the FBI’s hunt, Lucy isn’t about to step aside. Haunted by painful memories of her own harrowing encounters with evil, she’s determined to keep any more innocents from meeting the fate she so narrowly escaped. Delving deep into the twisted psyche of a remorseless killer, Lucy must confront her own fears—even if it means risking a future job with the FBI and future happiness with Sean.