Write On, Wednesday: Mary Kubica on her stunning new book, DON’T YOU CRY, scrapped manuscripts, abandoned houses, being cat crazy, & so much more!

By Leslie Lindsay

It seems Mary Kubica has had a quick rise to prominence. But once you get to know her, you’ll know its not exactly glittery stardust that got her to the top.9780778319054.indd

From writing in secret (her words, not mine) when her kids were just preschoolers, to getting a call from an agent two years after the first read of her debut THE GOOD GIRL (see my earlier interviews of Mary in 2014 and 2015), and then feeling as if she can’t possibly maintain her schedule of volunteering at the animal shelter, writing, raising kids, and everything else that goes into her busy life, Kubica returns with an electrifying and terrifying tale of deceit and obsession.

It’s stunning, creepy, and brilliant. 

I was reading away and thinking I had it all figured out. Maybe. Possibly. Oh, but wait…maybe not. DON’T YOU CRY (forthcoming, May 17th) is Complex, unpredictable, and masterful.

I’m so thrilled to have Mary pop over for a cup of coffee and chat about her new book and everything in between.

Leslie Lindsay: It’s great to have you back, Mary! I know we talked about DON’T YOU CRY when you were in the very early stages of writing, but at the time, your main concern was that the characters were a bit younger than your other two books. Still, I’m not sure I ever learned what really sparked your interest in this story. Can you share?

Mary Kubica: As with my two earlier novels, that first spark of inspiration is always some unintentional and underdeveloped idea that pops into my mind.  With The Good Girl, it was a kidnapping; with Pretty Baby, it was a vision of a young homeless girl with a baby.  When I began writing Don’t You Cry, I was intrigued by the notion of tracking the simultaneous disappearance of a woman with the appearance of a woman in another town, though I didn’t know who all the characters would be, or how their lives would intersect.  These were details I figured out during the writing process.  But Don’t You Cry came together differently than the rest of my books.  As I was on a tight deadline thanks to a scrapped manuscript and trying hard to make up for lost time, I wrote it in record time for me, finishing a draft in about three months and writing with an urgency I’ve never had before.  I think the storyline itself mimics my own frantic writing during this time.

L.L.: And so the character’s ages…was that a challenge in the end?

Mary Kubica: My second novel, Pretty Baby, has a heavy dose of marital conflict, family strife and the difficulties of motherhood worked in.  I intentionally wanted to take a step back from this and delve into the world of a different generation for Don’t You Cry.  In this novel, the main characters are twenty-three-year-old, Quinn, and eighteen-year-old, Alex, and though Alex is young, he’s mature beyond his age.  Quinn was the one who was more of a challenge for me to write because she’s carefree, sometimes making rash decisions, living in that time of her life when she’s just starting to figure out the realities of adulthood and has few responsibilities in life.  That said, she is a likeable girl and I know there are aspects of her young life I see in my own.  I think readers will easily relate to her struggles of growing up and coming to terms with adulthood.

If you haven’t read Mary Kubica yet, you need to start right this minute, with DON’T YOU CRY. This riveting psychological thriller had me turning the pages at warp-speed and kept me rooting for its heroine, the completely relatable Quinn Collins, who sets out to uncover the truth about her seemingly-perfect female roommate after the roommate mysteriously vanishes. The plot twists and turns more than Single White Female on steroids, and both women characters are crafted with emotional intelligence and extraordinary talent. Mary Kubica is a must-read for me, and she will be for you, too.

~ Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Every Fifteen Minutes

L.L.: You have such a way with the city—that is, downtown Chicago—that I don’t have, even though we’re both suburbanites to the same city. I don’t know what “L” stops take me to Cermack or where Farragut Avenue is located. I couldn’t tell you about the coffee shop at Clark and Berwyn, but you can. Is there a lot of research that goes into this, or is it just you and your super-power knowledge of being a Chicagoan?

Mary Kubica: Immediately after college, I rented a studio apartment in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood and worked at a law firm in the Loop – much like the one Quinn also works in – while finishing up my teaching degree.  I took public transportation to work and school, and so, though I’m a typical suburbanite these days, I have a prior knowledge of how the city works and feels.  That said, my memory isn’t quite what it used to be, and so I also spend a good amount of time scouring the CTA website for information when I write.  Many of the structures I mention – the coffee shop at Clark and Berwyn, for example, or the book store where Esther works – are completely fictional, and so the end result is a combination of prior knowledge, some research and a little imagination.

L.L.: And then we hop-skip to the other side of the lake, to a sleepy little Michigan resort town where we meet Alex Gallo, the young dishwasher who falls under the spell of a mysterious young woman. I felt this place very strongly. The cool November wind, the deserted streets after everyone left at the end of the season, the metaphorical chill. Do you feel as though setting often becomes character?

Mary Kubica: Setting is very important to me, and plays a central role in all of my novels.  I want readers to feel as though they’re there in my books, living beside the characters’ lives.  As a Chicagoan, I spent many summers vacationing on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan in towns like St. Joseph and South Haven, and some of my fondest memories of childhood involve climbing the sand dunes at Warren Dunes State Park (a must if you’ve never been!) and walking along the shores of Lake Michigan.  The Michigan town in Don’t You Cry is a fictional composite of all of these towns, and serves as a contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban Chicago life.

L.L.: There’s an abandoned house that pops up in Michigan. Oh, how they fascinate me! Was there a real-life inspiration for this, or did it just magically appear for you?abandonedhousesinMichigan

Mary Kubica: This home fascinated me as well!  When I started writing the novel, it was completely fictional, but as soon as I realized the house was going to play a much more significant role, it became my mission to get the look and feel of the home just right.  I did research and found some older, abandoned homes in the towns around mine, and visited them to be sure I got the details right, the way the homes sunk at their bases; the cracked concrete foundations; the vines that snaked around the exterior of the homes, barring any natural light from entering the inside.  I found it captivating to imagine the family that once lived there, and to wonder what happened to them, and why the homes were now abandoned.  There wasn’t any one home in particular that became the inspiration for Genevieve’s home, but rather bits and pieces from an assortment of abandoned homes.         

L.L.: Speaking of which, I know you’re not a plotter. Does that help you in the writing process…to create a sense of surprise and urgency on your part? Is it a hindrance? Do you ever discard major portions of your work after you’ve played around with it and have found the ultimate direction?

Mary Kubica: You’re right, I am not a plotter, and try hard not to overthink my novels ahead of time but rather to create the characters and give them free reign to tell their stories to me.  As a writer I have the moments of writer’s block, of course, but by not planning it all out in advance, the novels have what feels to me to be a more natural flow rather than a premediated one.  There are many times the paths the stories take surprise me, and I find this thrilling as an author, though without fail, there are also things I end up revising or deleting because the direction of the book changes throughout the process.

L.L.: There are some dark, grisly scenes in DON’T YOU CRY. And I look at you and think, no…not this sweet gal with two young kids and a cat for every member of the family. But insinuating yourself into the minds of…well, crazy, sinister people is kind of fun. Can you speak to that, please?

Mary Kubica: Well, anyone who has four cats probably has to be a little bit crazy!  Truthfully though, it’s fascinating to me to be able to get into the minds of characters who are far different than me, whether it’s eighteen-year-old Alex with his incompetent and alcoholic father, working overtime to make sure they don’t lose their home, or someone who is dark and sinister and evil.  It’s fun, and suffice to say, my characters’ lives are often far more interesting than my own.  With them, I get to step out of my comfort zone, use a little creative license and imagine what it would be like if I wasn’t the average suburban mom with two kids and a houseful of cats.

L.L.: What are you working on next?

Mary Kubica: I’ve just finished a draft of my next novel, which is yet untitled.  This one should release in the summer of 2017.  I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!

L.L.: What are you currently reading?

Mary Kubica: I just finished devouring Kimberly McCreight’s THE OUTLIERS and Megan Abbott’s YOU WILL KNOW ME, which release this spring and summer.  They’re both absolutely fascinating books and ones I would highly recommend.  Up next on my to list is JUNE by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.  I loved her last book, BITTERSWEET, and cannot wait to give this is a read.

L.L.: What might be obsessing you now and why?

Mary Kubica: My next project is where my obsession lies these days.  As with most of my books, I get completely swallowed up by the characters and their stories, and have trouble quieting them down when I’m not actively writing.  But I’m also obsessing over this season of American Idol, getting ready to launch Don’t You Cry, and counting down the days until summer.  It can’t get here soon enough!

L.L.: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Mary! Such a pleasure, as always.

 Mary Kubica: Thank you so much for having me, Leslie.  It’s always wonderful to visit.

Mary Kubica author photo credit Sarah JastreBio: Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL (2014) and PRETTY BABY (2015).  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children.  DON’T YOU CRY is her third novel.Follow Mary on:

[Cover and author images courtesy of  E. Flounders at MIRA. Abandoned house image retrieved from on 2.29.16 and has no direct link to DON’T YOU CRY or Mary Kubica] 

Write On, Wednesday: Diane Chamberlain on her latest novel, PRETENDING TO DANCE, Dying with Dignity, Playing the Guitar, Character Motivations, & a Sneak-Peek at What’s Next…

By Leslie Lindsay 

Years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Diane Chamberlain when I picked up her KEEPER OF THE LIGHT. And then SECRET LIFE OF CEE CEE WILKES captured my heart. Maybe it was the gorgeous auburn ringlets on the little girl and the teal cover. I have a soft spot for both. And then I sort of developed a crush on Travis in THE GOOD FATHER. But not really—he’s too young for me. And then the rural town in NECESSARY LIES came to life in ways that PretendingtoDancecovermade me yearn for my roots, and question the “good” of eugenics. Of course, I also found THE MIDWIFE’S CONFESSION a touching, yet disturbing read.

What all of these stories have in common is a deep familial thread, interweaving characters with complex moral issues that will have you cheering, crying, and tugging at your heartstrings.

Diane Chamberlain’s newest book, PRETENDING TO DANCE will stir feelings of nostalgia, grief, and adolescent angst.

I am so very honored to have USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain with us to chat about the story and inspiration behind PRETENDING TO DANCE (October 6, 2015).

Leslie Lindsay: Diane, Thank you so very much for being with us today. It’s quite an honor. I am always so interested in what inspired a story for an author. I know your sister Joanne (who, like your character Graham, struggles with MS) partially inspired PRETENDING TO DANCE. Can you speak to that?

Diane Chamberlain: My older sister Joann started having trouble walking in her forties and that was the beginning of her ongoing battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Although, today, many people with the most common forms of MS can lead nearly normal lives, thanks to innovative medications, none of those new treatments worked on the sort of progressive illness Joann has. Like Graham, Jo lives with a 24-hour aide who does everything for her—feeds her, lifts her, rolls her over in bed, etc. And like Graham, my sister is a vibrant person with a very active and creative brain. She still directs plays for her local community theater, for example. But also, like Graham, she’d like to know there is a “way out” of her suffering should it ever become too much for her.

L.L.: Would you say you set out to write a story about Multiple Sclerosis, or was it something that came as a sort of by-product to some of the other themes in PRETENDING TO DANCE (i.e. open adoption, lies, secrets, assisted euthanasia)?

Diane Chamberlain: The inspiration behind PRETENDING TO DANCE absolutely came from my thoughts about death with dignity. Should people have the choice to end their own lives when faced with enormous physical or existential suffering? As I wrote the story, though, other themes emerged such as the family dynamics that surround open adoption etc. It’s always the case that I set out to write about one element in a story and many other elements emerge along the way.

L.L.: I’m a former child/adolescent psych R.N., so I have to say you hit teenage angst spot-on. In fact, I am just about Molly’s age—so I recall many of the fads and trends you spoke about (I was more of a Joey or Jonathan girl myself). What kind of research did you do to be able to slip into the world of a 14-year-old in 1990?

 P-3332 New Kids on the Block Boy Band Music Wall Decoration Poster Size 31"x21"Diane Chamberlain: I’m glad you think I got it right! I am considerably older than the adult Molly, but I remember being 14 very well. For me, it was the Beatles and the Stones and James Brown, but the emotions—the longing and fantasizing—were the same. However, I wanted to tap into the 1990 14-year-old that Molly was and for that I turned to my Facebook readers on my ‘Diane Chamberlain Readers Page.’ I asked them the sorts of things Molly would be into—what she’d be saving her money for, what her longings and dreams would be, etc. As always, my FB readers came through for me big time!

L.L.: In some ways, I kind of feel as if we’re kindred writers in the sense that you also have a background in social work and psychotherapy. How does that experience color your writing?

Diane Chamberlain: Well, as I’m sure you know, that background helps me understand how people tick and what their motivations might be for the things they do. I also had a private psychotherapy practice specializing in teens, which is another reason it was easy for me to tap into Molly’s psychological development. More than anything, though, I think my background gives me an understanding of how strong people are and how they can lift themselves up from the worst things life metes out to them.

L.L.: Switching gears a bit: what would you say is the most important thing a writer can do to enhance his or her story world?

Diane Chamberlain: I think getting to know one’s characters on a very deep level is the most important thing. I often do this by creating what I call a character autobiography. I ask them to tell me how they’re feeling about their life, what’s happening in the story and to their fellow characters. I record their answers in first person using pad and pen rather than the computer. I invariably learn something new and meaningful about them in this way.

L.L.: What’s obsessing you right now?

Diane Chamberlain: Playing the guitar. I’ve had no hobby for many, many years. Not since my writing hobby turned into my career, as a matter of fact! I recently rediscovered the guitar and I love it. I‘m not good at it, but I can play well enough to hang out at guitar meet-up groups and sing along. It takes me completely away from the writing world for a few hours each week and I think that break is important and energizing.

L.L.: Can you share what you are working on next?

Diane Chamberlain: My not-yet-titled book is set in 1944 in a small town in North Carolina and involves a medium, a polio epidemic and a whole lot of people whose stories are crying out to be told! That’s all I can reveal for now.

L.L: Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Diane Chamberlain: I think you’ve done a masterful job!

L.L.: Thanks so much, Diane! We truly loved having you today.

Diane Chamberlain: Thank you, Leslie. I’m thrilled you enjoyed PRETENDING TO DANCE.

For more information, to follow, connect, or chat, please visit:

Diane Chamberlain 
is the international bestselling author of 24 novels. Her 23rd novel, The Silent Sister, hit both the USA Today and Publishers Weekly best seller lists and was a 2014 Fall Okra Pick. Her most recent novel, PRETENDING TO DANCE, introduces Molly Arnette, a woman worried the secrets from her childhood past will ruin her attempt to adopt a baby in the present. Chamberlain lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca.

[Special thanks to Katie B. at St. Martin’s Press. Author & cover image courtesy of St. Martin’s Press. Image of The New Kids on the Block retrieved from Amazon on 10.27.15 and is not endorsed by Diane Chamberlain, but is merely an element of her teenage character’s life from her most recent novel, PRETENDING TO DANCE] 

Write On, Wednesday: Bestselling Author Holly Peterson Talks about her new book, early morning writing, & more

By Leslie Lindsay

What a thrill to interview Bestselling author HOLLY PETERSON. She has a brand-new snappy book coming out this spring (oh, dear…let’s *hope* it’s spring-like come April) which explores love, marriage, and friendship in a whole new way–one which leads us to more questions than answers.

L.L.: Thank you, Holly for chatting with us today about your upcoming book, THE IDEA OF HIM (April 1, 2014 William Morrow, where books are sold, Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think many of us are enamored with the idea of being happy and thus surrounding ourselves with the things we think will bring that happiness—the perfect job, the well-decorated home, the handsome husband. But when we dissect the situation further, we realize none of its making us feel happy and secure. Do you feel this is a phenomenon—or a trap—we as a society have fallen into?

Holly Peterson: Interesting question. I do think when we get an idea of a person into our head that will fulfill our emotional needs, it’s very easy to be unrealistic or downright delusional about that person because the psychological needs are propelling us to believe that this person will save us, solve everything in our lives.  Love is powerful and can be all consuming…millions of authors and screenwriters and artists of all kind tap into this basic truth.

Question is: are you confusing actual love for someone with and idea of someone? “Oh, he’s so strong and determined, he’ll make a great husband…but is he fun and do you actually want to go to a movie with him?” Or, “She’s so hot, she’ll make me look young and virile…but when you’re at the breakfast table reading the papers, is she engaging in your interests?” As for concrete things like great meals or clothes or the perfect shoe, I’d say it’s much harder to delude ourselves and those things do have a chance of legitimately brightening our day.

L.L.: You’re obviously quite accomplished in your career—a former producer for ABC news, a Newsweek reporter, not to mention the author of the best-selling THE MANNY–and a new book about to be released. What do you think has contributed to your overall success—luck? Hard work? Connections? A combination? 

Holly Peterson: My career is definitely a combination of hard work bordering on workaholic as I get up at 4am to write, my intense drive, and an inability to accept the word “no” which very very much helps in journalism as so much of the work we do is to get people to talk.  James Carville the political consultant once told me no reporter had ever called him as many times as I had…like 72 or something because I absolutely needed a quote and I tried for 3 months to get him to talk about his work with the former Israeli Official Ehud Barak and he didn’t want to…but in the end he did out of exasperation from my phone messages.  I do also have family connections mostly through a father who was a Cabinet official and a Wall Street executive. Until I was about 35, I didn’t like to use them as I was so intent on doing everything overseas etc with ABC News on my own…but as I had children, and as certain magazine bosses wanted me to call his business colleagues for stories etc, I gave in because it was the path of least resistance at times.  So I’d say it’s a combination of hard work and connections for journalism work but for novel writing…I’m going to definitely say it’s all me slogging through on my own steam through it at 4am with a blinking cursor.

Holly PetersonL.L.:As a mother, I am always interested in how authors balance their writing time with their family obligations. At one point I think I read you worked on THE MANNY from 9:45pm until 3am weeknights after the kids went to bed. What if you’re just not a “night person?” but still a drive to get a book out?

Holly Peterson: The problem is this: emails are important. Your kid is telling you the cable guy is there when you’ve been waiting for weeks with no Internet. The price on the airline tickets goes up if you don’t respond to your travel agent NOW…and as a mom these emails pour in all day so it’s impossible to get into a writing groove with all the “important” disruptions that feel so crucial at the time.  So last book was me working from 930 pm to 3am with diet coke and wine at the same time, one to keep me up, one to loosen me up for good sexual tension scenes.  This time, for some reason, it’s all 4am with tea and protein shake until 7 to get kids out to school for an hour or so, then at library for at least the morning…with the iphone hidden across the room behind some books.

L.L.:  Speaking of kids, how do yours respond to you being a successful author? In their eyes, is it cool or nerdy? “Just another job?”

Holly Peterson: My kids are teenagers and preteens…so they are so focused on their lives and I don’t think they care much. They like that I work and like my work as an “idea” but I can’t say they ask questions or are thinking about it much!

L.L.: Let’s move onto obtaining a literary agent. What advice might you give to an emerging writer desiring to get published in the traditional sense, NYC publishing house, etc.?

Holly Peterson: I would watch the self-publishing industry/movement very carefully as you can publish your book in an hour and get about 75% of the proceeds if you do on your own.  Yes, traditional publishing houses are the best route for sure, but getting their interest and obtaining an agent are very very hard these days.  No other advice than to send your manuscript out, or your first three chapters with a GREAT LETTER AND A GREAT FRESH CONCEPT THAT IS MARKETABLE to a lot of potential agents and call them for follow ups.

L.L.: What are you reading now—for fun? For education?  

Holly Peterson: I read so much press all the time…a bunch of newspapers and magazines all day: New York Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal on weekends…Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, Vogue etc…As for Fiction, I’m reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch right now.

L.L.:  What is obsessing you? 

Holly Peterson: With no television covering fiction, very few magazines donating space to it, no bookstores for people to browse in, how on earth does a fiction writer get the word out about their book? All day I think about creative ways to find my audience.

L.L.: Finally, what will you be working on next?

Holly Peterson: Two things in the works: A novel about the Hamptons because no one has done it right yet…and…an outdoor cooking cook book.

L.L.: Thank you, again for your insight and inspiration, Holly!

Holly Peterson: Thank you, Leslie!

Bio: Holly Peterson is the author of New York Times and internationa best seller, The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Tina Brown’s Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award-winning producer for the ABC News for more than a decade, where she covered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Talk, the Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications.

You can learn more about Holly at: www.HollyPeterson.com

FaceBook: http://www.Facebook.com/HollyPetersonny

Twitter: @HollyPetersonNY

With special thanks to Holly Peterson, Susie Stagland, Heidi Metcalfe Lewis, & HarperCollins for this interview opportunity. Cover image retrieved from Amazon on 2.28.14.

Write On, Wednesday: Bestselling Author LISA UNGER talks about books, writing, IN THE BLOOD & so much more!

By Leslie Lindsay

I am so very honored to have the amazing Lisa Unger with us today. Lisa is the NYT bestselling author of 12 suspenseful tales that range from crime, mystery, family saga, to the familiar psychological thriller; she’s a reader, wife, and mother (on a fun note, watch this interview with Lisa and her daughter, Ocean Rae discussing children’s books http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veY8wYhHweQ).

Lisa’s newest release is IN THE BLOOD (January 7th, Touchtone).  When my pre-order arrived in the mail, I hunkered down and didn’t stop till I finished.  It’s *that* good.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the interview for a…Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

Leslie Lindsay: Lisa, thank you for being with us today.  Your books are crazy-good in a twisted, dark manner that keeps us turning the pages, yet they seem to straddle several genres. According to your website bio, “My novels center around strong women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and explore themes such as the power of a single choice, the corrosive nature of secrets and lies, dark family legacies, and the secrets we keep from each other and from ourselves.” That said, how can writers authentically combine these varied genre aspects into a complete whole? Is it “just” writer-ly magic? 
LISA UNGER: Thank you for having me, Leslie. And thank you for the very kind words. I suppose you’re right in that the novels do straddle different genres. 
But I think it’s important for writers to remember that “genres” are classifications designed by book publishers and booksellers to market novels more efficiently. Writers should not be thinking about genre when they write.  We should be thinking about character, setting, plot, prose and all the elements that unify to make a great book.  We should be honoring our inspiration, putting in the time, and working hard every day to dig deeper and get better at what we’re doing.
Which is not to say that genre is not important. But it’s important later, after the book is written.  In the process of writing, it is far more critical to write authentically from an organic place.  Every one of my novels begins and ends with character voice.  I follow that voice and listen to that story.  Most of my novels are dark, and all of them might be classified as mystery, or thriller, or crime fiction.  But I don’t sit down to write my next “thriller.”  I sit down to write my next novel, and I honor the character voices in my head.  It’s not intent, and it’s not magic.  It’s just being true to who I am as a writer.
Leslie Lindsay:  You’ve always wanted to write—but before you landed a book deal, you worked in publishing. In what ways do you feel your earlier work prepared you for the life as a career author? For example, I just told my critique partner, “I only wished I’d started writing seriously sooner [in my life].” 
LISA UNGER: My years in publishing taught me some important things.  I had always been a writer, but I lacked the confidence to pursue that dream. Working in publishing showed me that it was, in fact, possible to do what I wanted to do.
My years in publishing also taught me that it wouldn’t be easy.  Getting published is not an end to the journey; it’s the beginning. It’s a foot in the door, an invitation to roll up your sleeves and get to work.  It’s harder to succeed as a published writer than it is to get published in the first place.  Knowing that prepared me for the dizzying highs and crushing lows of life as a career writer.  I am grateful to have that background, that I knew the realities of the business before I finally went for it.
Leslie Lindsay: In those early days of writing, what do you think you did “right?”What could you have done better?
LISA UNGER: Hmm … that’s an interesting question.  I am not certain what I did right, or what I could have done better.  In fact, I’m not sure that we can look back at any part of our lives in regret or in self-congratulation, since we never know what the consequences of other choices might have been.
But I do know that I have always done my best.  I am certain that each of my novels represents the pinnacle of my abilities at the time of its writing.  And the only thing that has ever motivated me is the belief that every day I can be better at what I do than I was yesterday. I believe that each book I have written is better than the one that came before it.  So, to be honest, I guess I wouldn’t change a thing.
Leslie Lindsay: IN THE BLOOD—wow! It’s so well done. I knew you had me when we first meet a psychology student with a trust fund, a mess of lies, and a web of secrets. Each and every sentence is so carefully crafted with unique turns of phrase and dashing imagery. Can you give us a little kernel of how IN THE BLOOD came to be?
LISA UNGER: The germ for a novel can come from almost anything – a news story, a line of poetry, even a photograph.  In the Blood was inspired by an article I read in The New York Times Magazine about how certain doctors think they can see early signs of psychopathic behavior in children as young as five. This idea ignited my imagination and led me to do a great deal of research on the topic.  And while I was reading, I started to hear the voice of Lana Granger. The only thing I knew about her was that she was hiding something big.  But I didn’t know what.  I also knew I had to tell her story.
Like most of my novels, In the Blood is my delving into the question of what makes us who we are, and what power do we have to change ourselves.  My father used to recite this poem for me when I was a kid.  You cannot hide in snow/ no matter where you go/ you leave a trail behind/ that anyone can find.  It sounds a little creepy, doesn’t it?  He didn’t mean it to be; he’s just into the sound of words.  It stayed with me and comes back at weird moments.  And over the course of my life, its meaning has evolved as an allegory for the self.  You cannot hide from yourself.  The psyche won’t allow it. You must embrace everything, even the darkest and most unpleasant things within you. That’s the major theme of In the Blood.
Leslie Lindsay: What advice would you give writers who are at that submission stage, who have a completed manuscript, and really want to get published traditionally? How do you see the publishing world changing?
LISA UNGER: Just keep writing.  Don’t wait to see if that book publishes, even if you are at the submission stage. Just keep writing.  Dig deeper.  Try to get better.  Because that’s what will get you published in the end, being great at what you do.
The publishing world is changing all the time; it’s true.  And it’s changing so fast and unpredictably that you shouldn’t worry about it until you are actually published.  And not even then!  Just write the best book you can write.  Write organically, exactly the book that your heart wants to write.  You can’t hope to follow trends or write to sell, because those trends, too, change all the time. 
What doesn’t change is that everyone is still looking for a great story – agents, editor, and readers.  We will always look to story to escape from or understand life a little better.  We will always want a great story to lift us up, thrill us, excite us, and make us feel something.  Publishing may change.  But love of story is forever.  There will always be a place for a great book.
Leslie Lindsay:  Is there anything obsessing you right now? 
LISA UNGER: I am always obsessed with questions of identity, nature vs. nuture, family legacies, abnormal psychology, relationships, religion, the many facets of love, and the things that connect us and tear us apart.  I am most recently obsessed with psychic phenomenon, haunting, and addiction. I have a kaleidoscope of obsessions, always shifting, changing and building on each other. Thank goodness!
Leslie Lindsay: What’s next for you? Working on another book—I hope! 
LISA UNGER: My next novel, entitled CRAZY LOVE YOU will publish in April 2015.  I am currently at work on my first young adult book, and the 2016 adult title.   Stay turned for more on all of that!
Leslie Lindsay:  Thank you for being with us today, Lisa Such a thrill! Can you kindly direct readers to your website, social media? Also, an author photo and book cover image would be much appreciated.
LISA UNGER: Thank YOU, Leslie, for having me!  And of course readers can find out lots more about me on the web!
Facebook: authorlisaunger
Twitter: @lisaunger
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I am currently re-energizing the newsletter to include exclusive excerpts, giveaways, advice for writers and notes about what I’m reading, working on, obsessing about, listening to and watching.  So do sign up!  It’s going to be fun.
Lisa Unger….New York Times bestselling author of IN THE BLOOD (Jan 2014)
Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way
And now for the GIVE-A-WAY!!  Lisa has generously offered a complimentary copy of her new release, IN THE BLOOD to one lucky reader. All you have to do it SHARE* this interview via email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads, etc. and LET ME KNOW you shared by dropping me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com or leaving a comment in the comments section of this blog. If you don’t tell me you’ve shared, your name can’t be entered. GOOD LUCK!!
*The Fine Print: Give-a-way open to US residents only. Contest runs Wednesday, 2/19/14 thru Saturday 2/22/14 at 5pm. You will be contacted via email if you are the winner. Please check “junk” and “spam” folders for an email from me. If you are not the winner, you will not be notified. Respond promptly with your mailing address. Ms. Unger, or her representative, will send you the book. Your email will not be used for any other reasons.
Photographs courtesy of Lisa Unger and retrieved 2.18.14 from www.lisaunger.com
This interview was arranged by Leslie Lindsay