Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Octoberguest! Interview with Allison Brennan
Allison Brennan inspires me! After working in public policy for many years, she decided that she wanted to have a job that would allow her to spend more time with her kids. So she turned to what she loved--books! She blew onto the romantic suspense scene in 2006 with a trilogy, and followed it up with another trilogy in 2007. Yesterday saw the release of Playing Dead, the third novel in her Prison Break Series, after Tempting Evil and Killing Fear. Her Sacramento FBI trilogy releases in 2009, and the first three books of her supernatural suspense series will release beginning in 2010. (I forgot to ask her if she thinks and dreams in threes!)
Given how indispensable Allison has made herself, it's no surprise that Tempting Evil debuted at #12 and spent four weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. She's a busy writer-chick, but you can catch her at her website, and the group blog, Murder She Writes. Today, she's hopped into the Handbasket to answer a few questions so Octoberguest! can open with a bang. She's also very sweetly donated one of her backlisted titles to be given away to a lucky commenter!
You write frequently and powerfully about characters who must work hard to repair their relationships. How does it feel when they work it out? Do you play the peacemaker in real life, too?
Conflict is a part of life, and in marriage or family relationships you have to work hard to keep the relationship on solid ground. Two people who care about each other and love each other, but don't have the formal or blood connection, have to work twice as hard because it's easier to walk away. When they recognize that they are a better human being and happier with the other person in their life, they are willing to fight for the relationship and forgive past transgressions. No one is perfect, and seeing flaws within helps accept flaws in others and focus on the good. When my characters both come to the realization that they are in love, or they have the capacity for love, or they forgive, or they accept the freely given love of another, they feel elated and complete. This is a two way street--none of my characters feel that they need someone to complete them, but they learn that having someone who loves and understands them makes everything else better. Since my characters deal daily with violence and tragedy, having that unconditional love heals wounds they might not have even known they had. When I get to that point in the story, I feel elated myself--that these two people will be together for the rest of their lives--both better and stronger and happier.
For me? I hate conflict and as an only child raising five kids, there's daily conflict. I mediate constantly. I want to keep the peace, but it's certainly not easy!
Tell us about the most fun you've ever had writing.
Typing THE END for the very first time. Going to the gun range with the FBI Citizen's Academy. Blowing up stuff in the back lot of my local FBI Headquarters. In every book there's a point where I feel that everything is coming together. Like a switch, I go from nervous and uncertain to completely excited--a total adrenaline rush. And sometimes, when that scene just clicks, when you know that you nailed it the first time around, it's almost better than sex. It only happens one or two times in a book, but what a rush!
What are some songs that might be part of the soundtrack of PLAYING DEAD?
What a GREAT question! And one I have to think about because I listen to music when I write--primarily classic hard rock with some pop and bubble gum rock.
Every Breath You Take by The Police
Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
I Want You To Want Me by Cheap Trick
I Don't Wanna Be by Gavin DeGraw
Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood
Living in the Past by Jethro Tull
Love Hurts by Nazareth
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
I love that Stephen King wrote you back when you sent him a fan letter! You said his response was: "If you want to be a writer, write." What further encouragement would you give to younger or emerging writers? Is there any writing advice you've gotten that you wish you had ignored?
Frankly, Stephen King said it all. Why wait? Why not write? Writing takes practice. I didn't understand exactly what he meant when I was thirteen, but now I have a little card on my desk that says WRITERS WRITE. It helps with procrastination. Or, when I'm struggling, I tell myself I'm not really a writer because I'm not writing anything . . .
For young writers, I would say read widely and write as often as possible. Don't let friends, teachers, or parents discourage you if writing brings you joy. For emerging writers--the unpublished seeking publication--write daily. Find ways to minimize or defeat inner fear. Learn to be self-critical without being self-demoralizing. Know that writers must make sacrifices to write, and once you are willing to make those sacrifices, be committed as long as the writing gives you more pleasure than pain. No one on earth cares whether you publish or not, except you. This is your dream. Don't let others minimize or negate your dream. Writing toward publication takes talent, perseverance, and luck; you have control over the first two and by learning and staying in the game, you increase your odds.
In your upcoming series about the Seven Deadly Sins to be released beginning in 2010, you venture into the supernatural. Can you give us a little preview?
My logline is: "Three strangers -- a seminarian haunted by a massacre of priests, an Irish woman once possessed by a demon, and a cynical true-crime writer -- must join forces to stop the Seven Deadly Sins released from Hell by an evil occult, or an entire community will lose their lives and their eternal souls."
The logline sounds simplistic, but it summarizes the concept well. The hero, Rafe Cooper, has the memories of twelve dead priests who were massacred while he was trapped next door. He was the psychologist assigned to helping the mentally disturbed priests who were living in a secluded mission because they'd all faced evil first hand. The heroine, Moira Donnelly, had once been possessed by a demon--her mother had given Moira's soul to the devil when she was born. Moira befriended a monk who helped her break the curse, but not before tragedy struck. And Max Revere doesn't believe in anything supernatural--think Dana Scully with bad habits and personal demons.
The Seven Deadly Sins are released from Hell by an evil occult seeking immortality. They are too powerful for the occult to control, and are now free. In the first book, a teen-ager is found dead in the woods with no known cause of death and her best friend is missing. The Demon Envy draws out each person's envious feelings and thoughts to the deadliest degree.
A question from my eight year-old, Bengal:
If you had 1000 Popsicle sticks, what would you build with them?
250 picture frames. I have no artistic talent.
Thanks so much for visiting, Allison!
[Remember--Everyone who comments is entered to win $100 Godiva Chocolatier and Harry & David giftbaskets, plus books from several Octoberguest! authors! Drawing held November 2nd.]