ALLISON BRENNAN- Personally Speaking

NY Times Bestselling Author

Allison Brennan

Thank you so much for helping us launch our Kiss and Thrill Blog, Allison, and congratulations on your new release: If I Should Die, your 17th novel that was published last week!

 You are a prolific, multiple NY Times and USA Today Bestseller. Which current Romantic Suspense authors are absolute favs or impulse buys for you? (Online, airports, bookstores…)

J.D. Robb is an auto-buy. I have all her books. Love Eve Dallas and Roarke! Laura Griffin & Roxanne St. Claire are auto-buy romantic suspense; Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner and J.T. Ellison are auto-buy suspense “with romantic elements” for me, too. I also recently bought a Shannon Butcher book on impulse—can’t wait to finish my revisions so I can dive into my towering TBR piles!

You do a fabulous job scaring your readers- what situation in daily life/news event scares you the most?

Crimes against children. There’s a special place in Hell reserved for anyone who hurts the most innocent in our society.

 If you could interview a serial killer (alive or dead) who would it be, and what would you ask?

Oh, just one? Actually, I don’t know that I’d want to go face-to-face with a serial killer. Maybe Dorathea Puente, because she’s from Sacramento and killed her boarders for their social security checks. Right after I moved to Sacramento when I was 19, a friend drove me past her house and told me all about her crimes. She’d just been arrested, but the trial wasn’t until several years later. I think she got away with it for so long because she was a little old lady and no one thinks that “grandma” is capable of murder.

How do you separate the twisted violence of your plots from your hectic life with 5 kids? (Meaning go straight from describing a serial killer butchering a victim to fixing dinner.)

 I don’t think I’m that gruesome in my books! LOL. I write when the kids are at school, then take the afternoon and evening “off” to do kid stuff (sports, homework, dinner, etc.) Then I write at night. I think about other people who have far more difficult jobs—like the cops and coroners and crime scene investigators who have to work with real victims and killers. They, too, go home and have families, but they deal with far more violence than I do. Mine is fiction! But I probably compartmentalize in a similar way.

 I know you’re a pantster (write by the seat of your pants, instead of plotting a story out), and your research is impeccable. Do you research first for ideas (i.e., cyber stalking/burying an IP address in cyber space like a needle in a haystack) or get an idea first and then research specifically what you need?

I prefer “organic writer.”  <g> I do both forms of research. I read a lot of true crime and participate in a lot of research “field trips” that aren’t specific to any book I’m writing, so I have a lot of ideas and information I can pull up when I need it. But for the details, I research as I need information. For example, I wanted to confirm a crime scene detail that I thought I had right, but couldn’t find the specific in my forensic books, so I emailed a friend (the fabulous writer D.P. Lyle) who confirmed my set-up, and also gave me the whys (which helps!)

The Evil Series (Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Fear No Evil) were all published in 3 consecutive months in 2007. Please tell me you were not on a book-a-month deadline?! If these were not previous stories you’d written, how difficult was this to pull off?

 I had two back-to-back trilogies. The first (The Prey, The Hunt, The Kill) were all written before the first book came out, though The Kill was on a tight deadline. We contracted for the second trilogy in February of 2006, and I had tight deadlines, but not each month!

Practically, when writing these trilogies especially since Ballantine wanted them out sooner to capitalize on the success of the first trilogy, I had to juggle all three books at one time. I didn’t have any of these written, though because I focused on one setting (San Diego) and one family (the Kincaid’s) it made the story research easier.

That meant while waiting for revisions on SPEAK, I started writing SEE. When I got revisions back, I put SEE aside, revised SPEAK, then went back to writing SEE. I turned in SEE and worked on copyedits for SPEAK. Then turned those in and worked on revisions for SEE.

Available 11/22/11

The Evil Series and part of the FBI series features heroes and heroines from the Kincaid family, (brothers and sisters of your new series heroine, Lucy Kincaid.) What was it about Lucy that inspired you to give her her own series?

Lucy is a strong and compassionate heroine who suffered great crimes and in turn killed her attacker—in cold blood. He was unarmed when she shot him. She has some issues she hasn’t addressed yet; she’s complex and believable. Better, I can focus on one protagonist from the beginning of her career, building her over time.

I had wanted to write a series, and after writing FEAR NO EVIL I knew that I wanted to write about Lucy. When I met Sean Rogan briefly in Fatal Secrets and Cutting Edge, I just knew he was perfect for Lucy. I was thrilled when I put them on the page together that there was chemistry! Sean has a very interesting backstory as well, most of which hasn’t been revealed. I can’t wait to see what pops up for him over the next few books!

As a follow up, this is the first time in your publishing career that you’ve centered a series around one reoccurring heroine. Are you finding that difficult? (For example, your books have a romantic Happily Ever After, and now you have Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan together in more books. Is it difficult to keep the conflicts and growth going?)

Yes and no. I like being able to build Lucy & Sean’s relationship over time—one of my problems in romantic suspense is the HEA after two days. With Lucy & Sean, I can add layers to their relationship, to give them a solid foundation that will withstand the pressure of their careers and conflicts.

 I thought I would have a much harder time with conflict between them. Once they’re together, how can I keep them together while also growing their relationship and have conflict that’s organic to the story? I start with the foundation: they are together and are willing to fight to keep their relationship. Then I look at who they are: Lucy is driven to fighting bad guys, sometimes at the expense of all else. She internalizes the pain of the victims, she understands the motivations of the criminals even though that makes her uncomfortable and depressed. She is battling her own feelings of right and wrong. Sean is fun-loving, arrogant and super smart—but he has some very justified animosity toward law enforcement. Yet he’s in love with Lucy, who wants to be an FBI agent above all else. As Sean’s reasons for distrusting cops come out, it’s going to increase the tension between them. Plus, Sean is no saint—even I don’t know what he’s capable of. But I do know that anything he does that might be illegal he does for the right reasons.

Anyway, I’m having fun exploring the grey areas in crime and punishment and justice, and I can think of no two better people to tell these stories than Sean and Lucy!

How many books do you plan for the Lucy Kincaid series? What’s after that?

I don’t have a set number. When I feel there is no more room for growth or conflict that’s organic to the story and characters, I’ll probably end the series. I’d like to write at least ten books in the series because I don’t think Sean’s past is going to really come out until after book six.

Coming April 2012!

The third Lucy Kincaid series, ‘If I Should Die’ came out last week, 11/22/11. And the next is ‘Silenced’ coming in April 2012. Can you give us a sneak peek of ‘Silenced’?

SILENCED: Washington sex scandal and a cold-blooded killer. Lucy risks her career and her life when, three weeks before she’s supposed to report to Quantico, she and her training partner Noah Armstrong are assigned to investigate the murder of a known mistress to a powerful congressman.

For Kicks: Which Hollywood stars would be great to play Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan, if the series became a TV or movie deal?

Oh, how fun! Hmm … It’s hard to pick, because I have a picture of her in my mind, and no one quite matches it.

 For Lucy, I think someone like Salma Hayek or Jessica Alba or Natalie Martinez or Serinda Swan.

 For Sean, Henry Cavill is probably leading right now … though I also like Milo Ventimiglia or Matt Bomer might work. Matt has his eyes …

 Now, for Noah Armstrong, an important secondary character, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play him!! Actually, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play anything …

Would you ever consider self-publishing the remaining paranormal series Original Sins?

Yes, I’m considering it. I’d prefer to find a publisher for the series, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll look at doing it myself and publishing it the way I want—as urban fantasy/supernatural thriller, not paranormal romance.

 Thank you so much for hosting me this week! I’m excited about this new blog, and hope to visit often!

Thank YOU, Allison!  For more info on Allison Brennan, her books and future speaking engagements please visit her website at www.AllisonBrennan.com

Do any of you have questions, comments or want to share your favorite Allison Brennan novel with the rest of us? 

***All participants are eligible for the Thurday, 12/1 drawing!  Allison is giving away a copy of: Love Me To DeathCheck back to see if you’re the winner!

About Sarah Andre

Romantic Suspense That Keeps You Up All Night! I live in sunny FL, love daydreaming, reading and chocolate. I write in the wee hours of the morning before my helpless hubby and 2 male Pomeranian pups awaken with their demands. :) My debut LOCKED, LOADED and LYING is available now.

Posted on November 29, 2011, in Author Interview, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 57 Comments.

  1. So great catching up with you here, Allison! Love your books!

    Thanks for the interview, Sarah, and best of luck with the new blog!

  2. Thanks Colleen! (Everybody: this is the fabulous Romantic Suspense author I described in yesterday’s post!)

  3. What a wonderful interview! I am so impressed with how prolific you are with children at home. You are a true inspiration! And I can’t wait to read Silenced. (also, I love you name because my maiden name is Brennan)

  4. Brandie Nickerson

    That was a fantastic interview!

    Allison, which is harder to write, the first book in a series or the remaining books?

    • Hard question! Both have unique challenges. The first is difficult because you’re meeting all the characters for the first time, and if you know you’re writing a series, you have to really think a gazillion times about each personality trait and action because the character is going to have to live with that forever. But subsequent books need to have character growth and sometimes it’s hard to stay true to the characters and within the world you created.

      Both book types of books need a complete story that can stand by itself as a mystery/suspense (at least for what I write!)

    • Thanks for visiting, Brandie! Great question!

  5. Allison,
    Thanks so much for being our first guest on the blog. I didn’t know that you were mom to five. I’ve admired you as an author for many years. Now that I realize the discipline and dedication it must’ve taken to write your books, I admire you even more.

    Colleen and Brandie, thanks for joining us!
    And thanks to Sarah for bringing us this wonderful interview today.

  6. Hi Allison, thanks for such a great kick-off! Who is your favorite villain in fiction?

    • I have so many! LOL — Johan Wrens in Keith Ablow’s PSYCHOPATH is one of the best villains I’ve “met” in fiction. Truly brilliant creation by a masterful author. I think that Francis Dolarhyde from Thomas Harris’s THE RED DRAGON was a better villain than Hannibal Lecter (shoot me now! I know Lecter is a sacred cow among villains … but truly, DRAGON was a better book and story.

      I think Mrs. Danvers from REBECCA is a brilliantly subtle villain — not a serial killer type, but evil in her own right! From a recent movie — Matt Damon’s character from THE DEPARTED was a perfect sociopath, he flipped multiple times to save his ass, truly without remorse and always sounding believable. I think HE believed what he was saying! I loved the cat and mouse game with him and Leo diCaprio.

      And Mags Bennett in JUSTIFIED. OMG, one of the greatest female villains on TV last season. I’m so glad she won the Emmy. She deserved it.

      • Mrs. Danvers was truly a master of psychological terror. Did you ever see the movie Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman & Charles Boyer? Charles Boyer’s character was fiendishly good at making his wife believe she was losing her mind.

  7. Sarah!! Love the new blog! Congrats on the opening.

    Allison, it’s always good to see you online. I’m really hoping you’ll be able to release more of the Sins series, I hate not knowing what’s next for the characters. =)

    See you in April!

    • Hi Terri! Thanks for coming! And hey, let’s take a second to remind people that Allison will be a keynote speaker at the Desert Dreams conference in April in Phoenix. So, Allison, I’ll get to meet you in person, since Desert Dreams is put on by my RWA group.

    • I know, I know! Me too — I hope to finish the series. I have a seven book story arc in mind. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I just know a couple big plot points related to Moira’s blood and another related to her father, plus I’m dying to find out who’s behind the conspiracy … I won’t know until I finish the books. I’m working on it.

    • Hi Terri! Thanks for stopping by…I hope to be at Desert Dreams in April, but have not signed up yet. Hope there’s still room. 🙂

  8. Great interview! Allison, you are always an inspiration. Not only are you a great author and great mom, but I especially admire how open and generous you are with your perspective and advice. I know when I was a debut author, you did this online class for PASIC all about the “inside info” of the publication process. It was a lifesaver for me, and I still think back to the advice you gave. Have you ever thought about doing that again? It’s been three years, and it’s like publishing is a whole new world!

    • Thank you Tessa! You are too sweet. And I’m so glad we got to know each other over the last couple years!!!

      I never wanted to teach that class, but we were launch the PASIC events and I swore it would the one and only road to publication class I would ever give.

      I don’t know that I would do it again. There are so many different paths to publication and so many ways people can go. I don’t know enough about self-publishing to be of help, and I’m skeptical that it can be successful for everyone. So many people think that it’s the shining city on the hill for authors, but in truth, it’s as hard to be successful self-publishing as it is to be successful through traditional publishing. It’s just … different. And authors need a different skill set. The only exemption, IMO, is authors who are traditionally published and control their backlist. If that were me, I would absolutely put my backlist up. But I have no backlist under my control, and I’m not publishing the first four books I wrote that I never sold. They’re not good enough.

      Long answer to get to — probably not! 🙂

      • Well, I know it took a LOT of time on your part. I feel lucky to have been there at the right time to glean all that wisdom. It’s nice that RWA is offering some similar classes and posts now, too.

        I can’t imagine how hard it would be to put together something similar today! As you say – so many ways to get published, and with everything in flux, no one can speak in absolutes. But I do think you make a great point that the self-publishing and digital-first paths have as many steep hills to climb as traditional publishing.

  9. Allison: Thanks so much for kicking off our blog in style. Fabulous interview! I’m always awed at how prolific you are, while still maintaining an active presence in RWA. Can’t wait for more of Lucy and Sean.

    Sarah: Great questions! Next time I do an interview, I know who to run my list by first. 😉

  10. Hi Allison! Welcome! Like Tessa, I’ve found your perspectives on the industry and what it’s like behind the curtains of publication so helpful. I’m sorry i missed your class. Because, honestly, it feels like there is still a lot that you don’t find out about until you’re already knee deep in the…process of becoming published. I’m looking forward to the continuation of your Lucy Kincaid series:) Thanks for launching our blog with us!

    • Manda, I promise you this: the more you learn about publishing, the more you realize you don’t know. Bawahahaha! Seriously, I read Publishers Marketplace, skim Publishers Weekly, follow publishers, agents, editors, authors, book bloggers, and bookstores — and readers. I still don’t know squat, but I know much more than I did when my first book came out 6 years ago!

      I wish, however, that I could put all that “stuff” aside when I’m writing and just focus on the story. I miss that freedom.

  11. Allison thank you so much for helping us kick off our blog!

    Your answer to Krista’s question above reminded me the villain/protagonist Matt Damon played in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY – I was blown away by that character. I haven’t seen THE DEPARTED yet, but now I want to.

    • I really want to see RIPLEY!! I read the book this year as part of my effort to read the classic suspense novels I’d never read. It is an AMAZING book (you have to get through the opening 50 pages or so which are a little slow–it sets up his character well, but it does drag a bit. Sign of the times.) It’s worth the read.

  12. Great interview, thanks Allison! I grew up in the Adirondacks. I have so many creepy childhood memories of those woods! Did you get to visit while writing this book?

    • Oooo! Like what?

    • No, I never visited! I wanted to, but didn’t have the time. I relied on websites (both historical and the St. Lawrence County website); photographs; my husband (who spent summers in Lake Champlain); Google Earth; and a great website about the history of mining in upstate New York. Then add my imagination and mood music (Gangstagrass, who perform the opening for JUSTIFIED) and there you have it.

  13. Allison, when you have down time and take in some TV what kinds of shows do you watch…the CSI/Law and Order kind, sitcoms, reality shows?

    I went to The Writer’s Police Academy last year and every single policeman, sheriff, EMS tech, fireman, forensic pathologist I met that weekend rolled their eyes at the CSI plots and methodology. After researching so much for your books do you see the same huge discrepancies between crime TV and reality?

    • I really, really, REALLY want to go to the Writer’s Police Academy!!!

      So …. television. Here’s the thing. We are entertainers. We write commercial fiction. Hence, we can’t necessarily adhere strictly to every rule and tenet of law enforcement. If we don’t want our books to drag, we need to pick up the pace and take some liberties. My own personal rule is that the crime itself — the premise, the clues, how they solve it — needs to make sense and be PLAUSIBLE. Might not be common or PROBABLE, but the reader has to buy into it. That includes law enforcement, at least on a basic level.

      So to that end, I try and make sure that the set-up is plausible, that my characters are smart, that they adhere to the basic law, avoid coincidences, and use brains to solve crimes. I use facts both ways — for example, if I need a DNA test fast, I have my character have a friend in the lab to expedite it. (I worked in government for 13 years–I know this stuff happens all the time at every level.) If I don’t want my DNA test fast, I put it through the “normal” process. If I need a search warrant fast, I have a friendly judge. If I need it slower, I have a new judge or a jerk-off, or whatever.

      I’ll admit, I don’t watch CSI anymore. I used to love the original primarily for the characters — I knew they got things wrong, but I didn’t care because I liked the characters and storylines. But I stopped watching when I started writing seriously. I love CASTLE — for the characters. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but I immensely enjoy Lee Lofland’s blog that he writes after every episode, about all the stuff they screw up. But I’m not watching CASTLE for good police procedure. I’m watching it because I love Nathan Fillion!!! LOL

      My favorite television shows right now:

      L&O SVU — still one of the best crime shows out there and has both good basic procedure and great characters. I didn’t think I’d like it without Elliott, but I really like the two new characters they have. Really, really like them!

      HAVEN — supernatural crime show. Love it. Also watch SUPERNATURAL, but not sure I love this 7th season.

      PRIME SUSPECT — LOVE LOVE LOVE this show but heard they’re going to cancel it. NO NBC!!! Don’t cancel this GREAT SHOW!!!

      LUTHER — BRILLIANT show from the BBC. Seems to keep loyal to UK crime laws (cops don’t carry guns!) LOVE this show.

      JUSTIFIED — another favorite show. Raylan Givens, US Marshal. Violence. Murder. Sex. AMAZING characters (all flawed) Doesn’t get much better than this! (Okay, it WOULD get better if they just kill off Naomi. I do NOT like her.)

      I enjoy THE GLADES, but it’s gotten preachy, though I still like Matt Passmore. I enjoy FLASHPOINT, but the characters are too perfect.

      I hated that they cancelled DETROIT 1-8-7 — I loved that show. It should never have been cancelled. And now the same network (I think — NBC?) is possibly cancelling another brilliant crime show that I love, PRIME SUSPECT. LIFE IS NOT FAIR!!!!! (They also cancelled LIFE a few years back, but at least we got two seasons and a complete story arc.)

      I also LOVED the first season of DARK BLUE with Dylan McDermott. Edgy and gritty. Probably totally wrong on the police procedure, but I loved it. All undercover cops. They screwed up the second season (I hated the FBI agent in that season) and I wasn’t surprised it was cancelled.

      Whew! Can you tell I love television???? 🙂

  14. Allison – I’m a big fan. Thanks for taking the time to answer questions! Organic writer does sound better than panster !

  15. So I just got a minute to read your inaugural blog! (Thank you Sarah on the shout out for FEAR NO EVIL!)

    First, it’s just NO FAIR I have to pick only three, but I’ll pick the three books that most impacted me as a writer:

    THE STAND by Stephen King. Brilliant characterization, epic story, masterful storytelling. Still my favorite King book of all time, and one of the rare books that I have read twice.

    THE SEARCH by Iris Johansen. My favorite Iris book. Love the characters, the story, the twists, the dog, the edge. I read it right before I started seriously writing–it showed me that there was a market for the types of books I wanted to write.

    THE THIRD VICTIM by Lisa Gardner. My first Lisa book, I was hooked for life. She didn’t pull any punches and wrote about an incredibly difficult and complex subject. And wrote it damn well.

    • Allison, thanks for sharing your desert island books. Choosing only three was so hard–I bring more than that when I’m going away for a just a weekend! My Kindle has made my luggage much lighter but the battery wouldn’t last on the island. 🙂

      From yours and everyone else’s choices I realize I need to read more Lisa Gardner–I’ve only read one. ::Shifting books around on TBR pile:: There, she’s now at the top!

  16. Thanks, Allison and Sarah, for a terrific interview–and for the book and TV show recommendations.

  17. I am so glad that I have Kieran Kramer as a “like” on facebook because otherwise I never would have found out about such an intriguing blog or author to add to my “need to research” list 😉 I read such a wide variety of genres that I can never stay settled down to one in particular for very long without getting that itch to read something different. I do have a particular weakness for different romance genres and different suspense/crime genres and it tickles me silly to see an author I haven’t already read surface (I don’t get out much, at least not to a book store or library LOL, good Lord I need a life)! Will definitely have to look into your books Allison!

    • Thanks for joining us Lora! You’ll find lots of book recommendations here every Tuesday so please come back and visit and, if you have a moment, tell us who your favorite suspense authors are.

    • Thanks Lora — writing romantic thrillers is the best of all worlds. Scary suspense with an HEA. Doesn’t get any better! LOL.

  18. Great interview Allison & Sarah!

    Allison, thank you so much for launching our blog with such wonderful style. Please come back and do it again when you release your next book!

  19. Thank you, Allison, from the bottom of our hearts for helping us launch our Romantic Suspense blog! I appreciate the great amount of time you devoted to us today and best of luck with the remaining stories in the Lucy Kinciad series!

    Hope to see you in April at Desert Dreams.

  20. Great interview Allison and Sarah. What a wonderful way to kick off your new blog, which by the way, looks awesome.

    Jenn!

  21. Great interview! Thank you!

  22. I love Allison’s writing! I also enjoyed the interview!

  23. awesome..is that great interview allison…btw iam new fan your book..i wish i win your book ^^

    iam agree with you if henry cavill lead as sean..coz iam fans hanry cavill hehe

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