Monday, February 4, 2008

Allison Brennan Is In Da Lair!

interviewed by Aunty Cindy

Today the Banditas are pleased and excited to welcome New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Allison Brennan to the Lair!

In case you are one of the few who have not heard of her, Allison writes edge-of-your-seat, leave-the-light-on romantic thrillers with plots that seem ripped from current headlines! Her first book, The Prey hit bookshelves at the end of Dec. 2005. The Hunt and The Kill (for which she received a Rita nomination) followed in Jan. and Feb. 06 to complete her first trilogy. Her second trilogy, Speak No Evil, See No Evil, and Fear No Evil came out in Jan., Feb. and March 07. The first book in her newest trilogy, Killing Fear just landed in bookstores last week, and this series will undoubtedly hit the best-seller lists as well!

Cindy: Welcome, Allison! Thank you for taking time from your hectic schedule to visit us today. Please tell us a bit about your latest release Killing Fear.

Allison: Seven years ago, Theodore Glenn vowed to kill everyone involved with his conviction for murdering four strippers. Now, he escaped after an earthquake hit San Quentin. He's returning to San Diego to take care of everyone who slighted him--including the cop who put him in prison, and the stripper who testified against him.

Cindy: You are an amazingly prolific writer, especially given all the other things you do including being the mother of five. Obviously you are a master at multi-tasking. Please give us some insight into your writing process.

Allison:(laughs) What process? LOL. Okay, I am the world's biggest procrastinator which is why I write up until my deadline. You'd think after eight books I'd learn, but this seems to be my process.

I write daily while the kids are in school. I edit as I go, meaning, I'll re-read and edit what I wrote the day before to get me into the story, then I'll write fresh. I want at least ten new pages a day, but prefer 12-15. When I hit about page 150 everything stops. I have no idea what I'm doing, what's happening, and I realize that nothing is going to work. Or, I have a major revelation and realize I need to go through every scene and tweak it. Or completely rewrite it. Sometimes two or three times. This process takes over half my writing time. Once I get over that hump, the rest of the book flows relatively easily. I say relatively. The ending for Killing Fear was came easier than the ending for Tempting Evil.

The balancing act can be hard. I usually only write from 9-3 and then after that it's kid time and all the kid activities that go with it. When I'm close to deadline, I write at night after dinner--escape to the local Starbucks until they close at 10 (11 on the weekends!) Illness--mine or a child--always throws a wrench in the process. But like every working mother, we make it work somehow!

Cindy: Where do you get ideas?

Allison: Ideas come from everywhere and nowhere. I usually pull together three or four seemingly unrelated ideas and come up with a premise. For example, in the Prison Break Trilogy I had to come up with an idea that would cross over all three books. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to write Will Hooper’s story. I had no idea about the heroine, the villain, or crime. Then I listened to a news story about the first airlift of prisoners from California to other states to alleviate prison overcrowding. I flirted with the idea of a downed plane of prisoners, but that was overdone and a bit contrived for my purposes. Then I read a news story about some legislators discussing selling San Quentin because it’s falling apart and is on over 400 acres of prime, waterfront, California real estate. I did a quick search on San Quentin only because I wanted to know what year it had been built, and read a great history about the prison. One article that popped up was a seismic report done for the state on the threat to San Quentin from an earthquake. They concluded that it would have to be larger than any known earthquake and didn’t feel there was a threat based on known fault lines. Well! After living in California my entire life, I know that there are earthquakes all the time on previously “undiscovered” fault lines. Earthquake. San Quentin.

I still didn’t quite know how Will would fit in, then I remembered that in Speak No Evil, I needed to get Will out of town (so Carina and Nick, the heroine and hero, could investigate without a third wheel.) So I sent him to testify at an appeal for Theodore Glenn, convicted of killing four strippers. It was athrow-away line, something I never intended to use, but now . . . Glenn ended up escaping during the San Quentin Earthquake.

Cindy: How do you develop your trilogies? Does the entire series come to you or is it one book at a time?

Allison: My trilogies are loosely connected because I want to make sure that each one stands alone as a full and complete story—with a unique hero, heroine and villain. At the same time, I like to bring back recurring characters. In the No Evil trilogy, I focused on a family—the Kincaid’s—who all had jobs related to law enforcement. There was also a common theme—each crime was related to the Internet in some way. When I think of them, I usually have the connecting theme, but each book comes on its own.

Cindy: Plotter or Pantser?

Allison: I don’t plot. Ugh. Just the thought of it makes me queasy. In fact, whenever I even have an idea of what’s going to happen and think about it too much, I lose track of the story in my effort to force that idea to happen when I think it should happen. In writing PLAYING DEAD, I came up with a great plot twist before I even started writing the book. I loved it. But as I got into the story, I couldn’t force it to work toward that twist. I kept pushing and pushing and then realized that I had subconsciously been working toward that twist and it wasn’t going to work in the story. I wasted a lot of time. I’m not going to do THAT again!

But, I do think a lot and play what if as I’m writing. I’m not afraid of back-tracking if something’s not working.

Cindy: And which comes first, the story or the characters? Or is every book different?

Allison: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? I firmly believe that story IS character and character IS the story. You can’t have one without the other. My good friend Toni McGee Causey says that “story is character in conflict.” I might have a general sense of the story and a sense of character, but I don’t know either until I start writing, and they develop together simultaneously. I think this is why I edit as I go--I layer in what I've learned about my characters and the story!

I often think up the very basic crime before anything else. Like in FEAR NO EVIL I knew it was going to be a live Internet murder. That was all I *knew* of the story when I sold it. In fact, I originally envisioned a different hero for that book, but they (the characters) didn’t agree with me.

Cindy: We love “Call Stories” here in the lair, care to share yours?

Allison: It was a Tuesday morning and I was driving to work. My agent calls. I hadn't expected to hear from her because she only sent out my book the Thursday before. She said that Ballantine had offered a pre-empt (she had to explain what that was) and if we were going to accept, they had to do better. She gave me the terms and I was floored. I sat in my car for so long I was late to work. Shock that it was happening so fast. I expected weeks or months, not a couple days.

On Thursday afternoon, my agent called and said that we had an offer she thought we should accept, went through the terms and (of course) I agreed. I was standing on the corner of 11th and O Streets after going to La Bou to get my favorite iced coffee drink (the Capital Mocha--the one thing I miss about working at the capital!) It was windy but a bright sunny day. People I knew passed me and waved or nodded, but I don't remember who or if I even acknowledged them. I just wanted to enjoy the moment by myself. Then I called my husband.

Cindy: Any advice to the As Yet Unpublished or the About To Be Published? What do you know now that you wish you’d known before your first book came out?

Allison: That's a hard question. If I knew everything I know now about the publishing business, I might have gotten discouraged before I even tried. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Too much information can stifle creativity. But at the same time, a basic understanding of the process and how to query is important.

What I wish I had truly known was that it doesn't get easier. That being published doesn't mean the stories magically write themselves, or that I have somehow become a better writer who doesn't have to labor over each story. In fact, every book is harder because I'm trying to not only match the last, but improve on it. That pressure can get very intense, especially when you're in the middle of a book.

I also wish I'd known that it's okay to ask your agent stupid questions. I would have saved myself a lot of anguish early on if I had just picked up the phone and asked questions. Fortunately, I had a great mentor who helped get me over this insecure hurdle.

Cindy: What is next on the publishing horizon for you?

Allison: The manuscript for Playing Dead (9.30.08) is due to my editor Wednesday night, so I'm finishing it. I still don't know exactly what's going to happen . . . which is a little scary at this point! Then I start the first book of my FBI series which will be out in early 2009. We'll also probably be going back to contract in the next couple weeks so I have to put together a proposal.

Cindy: WOW! My head's spinning just thinking about all those deadlines! Allison, thank you again for visiting us today and for sharing some GREAT info and insights!

Critics have praised Allison’s portrayal of her villains as well as her heroes and heroines. Who are some chilling villains you’ve encountered lately?
Allison has agreed to give one lucky commenter the complete signed No Evil trilogy and a second commenter will receive a signed copy of her supernatural romantic suspense anthology, What You Can't See, with stories also by Roxanne St. Claire and Karin Tabke. And if you have any questions, ask away!


p226 said...


Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, p226!
The GR is going home with YOU!
ACK! Hope he survives.

p226 said...

Chilling villains? In real life, or of the fictional type? I read a lot of nonfiction. And there are some villains out there in nonfiction that are at least as monstrous (if not moreso) than any fictional villain I've run across.

I've run across some pretty diabolical folks in day-to-day life too. Quite a few of them actually. Some of which are probably just as sinister as any fictional villain.

Most likely, the question is targeted on fictional villains. You know, recently, none of them have really stuck as being really terrifying. I read a book a year or so ago (might have even been a series) my wife gave me. It was centered around Frankenstein in the modern world. It had a bunch of his soulless creations wandering around to create some twisted undead utopia. That one was actually pretty good. Damn good, come to think of it. The villains were better written than the good guys.

But some of the best ever would have to be Randall Flag, and Hannibal Lecter. Chilling stuff. Of course, King is pretty much the all-time master of creating villains in my opinion. At least in his earlier stuff. And Slob. Oh man... Rex Miller's "Chaingang" in Slob, wow. That was one scary dude.

p226 said...

ACK! Hope he survives.

Oh, he'll probably survive. I'm teaching him things every time I get him. Today's lesson is land navigation. I'm going to drop him off up in some old WV mine land with a topo ma and a compass. His food, water, and ammo for the day are distributed at various waypoints. He has the grids. He knows how to triangulate terrain objects to find them. I'll pick him up later this evening at his last waypoint.

And, I did take the numerous coyotes into consideration. Hence the ammo at his drop-points. If he gets in trouble, he can pop red smoke. And he has a radio.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, no, the poor beast is off turning into a GI again!

Allison and Cindy, what an absolutely fantabulous interview. Allison, you're an amazing writer and an amazing example of what determination can accomplish. Huge congratulations on all your success!

Hmm, scary villains? I think the scariest villain I've read over the last year was in fellow GH finalist Pamela Palmer's debut book for Nocturne, The Dark Gate. Those Esri were seriously terrifying. Otherworldly beings with no conscience and amazing powers. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. Actually, villains in a romance novel are a really hard balance - they have to be genuinely scary, strong enough to raise doubts over the protagonists' ability to conquer them, but also they need to be subsidiary to the main love story, in my opinion. When I read a romance, I want the romance to take centre stage.

Allison, do you ever have trouble with balancing all the elements of romantic suspense? I think it's one of the hardest genres to write well!

flchen1 said...

Congrats, p226! Be kind to the GR :)

Hi, Allison! I haven't read your books yet because I'm such a fraidy-cat that I usually avoid romantic suspense :( I love the ideas, but I'm definitely a fan of sleeping at night, too.

As for villains, I always find ones who are willing to harm children even more horrible than the rest. Eeekk...

Christine Wells said...

Hi Allison, welcome to the lair! Your books sound fantastic. My goodness, will you people stop bringing great writers on here so I can make some sort of dent in my TBR pile? Sheesh. But seriously, thanks for a fab interview, AC.

I love romantic suspense but I admit I'm always looking for the romance a little more than I'm looking for the suspense. But then I watch my children's movies for the romance too (aka, the icky kissy-face stuff). Chilling villains--my goodness, it just shows what a cream puff I am that I can't think of any at the moment. Allison, I'm interested by your process because I was nodding my head all the way through. It sounds exactly like mine. And right now, I'm just about at the 150 page point where it's all falling to pieces!!! And you're telling me it doesn't get any better? I might as well retire right now, if that's the case:)

Hmm, our GR is getting one heck of a well-rounded education, what with P226 teaching him survival skills, Denise Rossetti teaching him, er, erotic arts and me teaching him how to hold his mango daiquiris. He'll need a double O number soon!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, don't you dare give up! I want more books as good as Scandal's Daughter and the Dangerous Duke!

Helen said...

Congrats p226 on the GR.

Loved the interview AC and Allison and a big congratulations on your books and being able do all you do with 5 children.
I haven't read any of your books I am a little like flchen1 in that respect I am a scardy cat as well. Villians I have come across lately probably Matthew's uncle in Untouched he wasn't very nice to Matthew and Grace treated them very badly. Thanks for the interview loved it.
Have Fun

Marg said...

Interesting interview! I haven't read Allison's books before, but I have heard good things about them!

Eva S said...

Hi Allison, I'd love to read some of your books, but in daylight and with some people around, I think...

I have mostly read historicals and there are rather few villains, but I've read Rules of Re-Engagement by Loreth Anne White and Tell Me Why by Stella Cameron and there were the worst kinds, one was her father and one was her ex-husband, father of their child! No villains in the family, thanks!! They are the most terrifying.
Vampire and others like them I can handle, they don't give me nightmares...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

What would be my chances of finding the GR? Just to a WV Land mine and find him? Yeah, right, WV is riddled with mines, (sigh), that would be the only way I am going to get the GR.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

The villians that scare me the most are the ones you don't know are villians until way too late.

Jo Davis said...

Hi Allison!

Wonderful interview! I've told you before, but I love your books (the last series with the Kincaid brothers hooked me for life!) and I'm still going to bug you to bring Patrick out of his coma and give him a story! :)

Christine, pick up a copy of Killing Fear. It has the perfect blend of romance and suspense. You won't be disappointed!

Chilling villains... besides Allison's, I'm a HUGE fan of John Sandford's Prey series from the beginning. Love hero Lucas Davenport, and the villains are some of the most spine-tingling I've ever read. >:)


terrio said...

I used to read RS but haven't picked one up in a while. Looks like I'm missing out.

That call story is amazing and I can see how you would be in temporary shock. And I feel awful for complaining I don't have time to write. I only have 1 child. Wow.

Since you edit as you go, do you ever find yourself not moving forward because you are stuck on edits? And does that mean you have less editing/revisions to do after the book has gone to your editor?

Allison Brennan said...

Thanks to Cindy for the wonderful interview, and to the bandits for letting me share today!

It's 630 am here, so that means I'm up, coffee is brewing, and I need to get the kids ready for school. But I have a few minutes of peace . . .

p226, I agree with you--real life villains are far more creepy than fictional villains. I read a lot of true crime as well--my first TC book was HELTER SKELTER by Vincent Bugliosi when I was 13, quickly followed by IN COLD BLOOD by Capote. It certainly didn't end there, and I have two shelves devoted to true crime and related research books like THE SERIAL KILLER FILES by Harold Schlecter.

And I used to work in the California State Capitol, so I'm right there with you on diabolical! :) LOL

I'd love it if you could think of the name of that book you loved.

As far as my villains go, I like to make them genuinely scary--I mean, killers are dangerous--but I want them to seem real. That means getting into their heads and their background so that I as the author know why they do what they do. Criminal psychology books are also a fave of mine.

Allison Brennan said...

Oh, and Randall Flagg is one of the best villains out there. The perfection of the killer "Hannibal" is the villain all us villain-obsessed writers strive to reach.

Anna, great question. The answer is . . . sometimes. But I don't think about it when I'm writing. I think one of the biggest mistakes an author can make is to obsess over balance. The story is what it is. Get it out there. If it's off-balance when you're done, you'll know and can edit to fix it. But at the same time, sometimes our natural voice is on one side of the line. Mine falls more on the suspense line. I love--demand--a romance in my romantic suspense, but in my stories the suspense is usually (not always) the primary focus. The romance is always an important and complimentary major focus as well. In KILLING FEAR, the balance is more "equal"--and that's how the story came out. In FEAR NO EVIL, the balance weighs a little more on the suspense side. I didn't plan either.

I know that I'm not going to please everyone. That was another lesson learned :) I mean, I can't even cook one meal that will please all five of my kids, why would I think I can please all the readers out there? :) But I still try.

Which brings me to another lesson learned: every author has a unique voice that shines when the author "hears" that voice (the tone, the rhythm, the feeling of the words and the story they create.) If you obsess too much on trying to please others before you please yourself, you do so at the risk of stifling your voice. And what are all editors say they are looking for? A "fresh" voice. Original. Different. Bold (and not necessarily over-the-top, just a "boldness" that stands out from the rest.)

Joan said...

hrdwrkdmom...I think you can rescue our rooster....I implanted a GPS last time he was in Kentucky mahwahahahaha...

Welcome Allison and your books sound fabulous! I agree with Christine...give my TBR pile a break!

Villians? Hmmm..I think the most powerful villians are the ones you don't expect. The ones who appear a) normal b)non-descript c) nonthreatening. A perfect example would be Henry Gale from LOST.

At his introduction he appeared a mild mannered wimp. But he is the creepiest villian I've ever seen. I think his character-and the character's evolution- is one of the most masterful I've ever witnessed.

Oh, and the uncle as portrayed by Jim Carrey in "Lemony Snicket" Kind of campy but I love the line when he looks at the baby and says "I'm sorry... I don't speak MONKEY"

Allison Brennan said...

flchen1, I completely agree with you. Criminals who prey on children are the most evil and insidious in society and there's a special place in Hell where they will be burned and tortured for eternity. So I like to believe.

My books are on the scary side, so don't read them if you don't like graphic violence! But maybe a friend will :)

Hi Christine! Regarding process, the little I've learned suggests that every process is unique to us. Maybe it'll change for you. But be careful what you wish for . . . LOL.

My RS falls more on the suspense side. I do promise a romance and a happily ever after. It's just not the main focus of the book. For example, in TEMPTING EVIL which comes out at the end of May, I think the romance is the strongest I've ever written . . . but the hero and heroine aren't on the same page until the midpoint. It's just the way the story unfolded. (But the h/h had a relationship before the beginning of the book. The hero asked her to marry him and she panicked and they haven't spoken in three months. She had a very good reason for backing down and the story is really her journey to be able to love again.)

Beth said...

Great interview Allison and Cindy! Allison, thank you so much for being here *g*

I've heard so many wonderful things about your stories! More books to add to the to-be-bought pile :-)

I'm so far behind on my reading I can't even think of any really chilling villains.

To me, the scariest villains (whether in real life or fiction) aren't the ones who are necessarily the most evil or commit the most gruesome crimes, but the ones NO ONE expects to be guilty. When everyone who knew that person is totally shocked and can't believe they committed such horrendous crimes.

That ability to hide such evil is really scary to me.

Allison Brennan said...

Thanks for visiting Helen!

BTW, if you and others like more romance but still want a strong suspense element, check out Roxanne St. Claire's bulletcatcher series. It's the perfect blend and the violence is not as graphic.

Hi Marg! :)

Eva, you bring up an excellent point. Sometimes the scariest villains are the ones close to us. Like in SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY with Julia Roberts.

Dianna, those are the BEST kind of villains! And when the author is able to pull it off--but have enough clues so that I don't feel like it's coming out in left field--then it's fantastic.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Allison,

Welcome to the lair. You books sound great, I have to admit I haven't read them yet either. But I know my mother has read them all. She loves romantic suspense.

Allison Brennan said...

Hi Jo! Thanks so much :) . . . I'm so glad you enjoy my books. I promise, Patrick will some day come out of his coma. I get a lot of reader mail on him (and Jack.) People can't believe he's in a coma. The thing is, it seemed contrived to bring him out of it at the end of the story, and I didn't want to kill him. (My mom would have disowned me. She loves Patrick.) In the first draft of KILLING FEAR, Patrick did come out of his coma . . . but it did NOT work for the story. I did it ONLY because I had a lot of reader mail on him, not because the story called for it. Big mistake. But I do have a story idea for him . . . promise!

Terrio, great question! The editing as I go began with my fourth book. I never used to do that. I used to write, then do my own revisions. I also had a critique group that read my work. That was my process before I sold, and I maintained it for my first three books.

But I couldn't keep the crit group (I didn't have time) and my editor said she'd be my first reader. So the editing as I go really started because I found that I had a cleaner draft when I got done, and editing what I wrote the day before gets me back into the story.

My manuscripts are "clean" in the sense that they don't have a lot of typos and stuff like that. The story is all there. I always have revisions. Because I write fast, I often need to go back and layer, and because of my schedule I don't have time to do that. Also, my editor always has fantastic comments. She's like the best critique partner in the world :) This works for me. I don't know that it would work for everyone.

The thing is, when I turned in THE HUNT (my second book) I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written. I thought it was perfect. I had to rewritten practically the whole thing. That taught me that maybe I'm not the best judge of my own work :) I thought I would have tons of revisions in FEAR NO EVIL, but my editor loved it and I only had to smooth out a story problem at the ending, and minor tweaks throughout (things like, "I don't understand why he's doing this" or "your heroine is getting whiny" or "do you really need this scene? It's not adding to the suspense or the romance." And always: she wants more scenes from the villain's POV, and she wants me to draw out the climax.

Allison Brennan said...

Off to get the kids ready for school . . . I'll stop by later!

Donna MacMeans said...

Great interview Cindy. Hi Allison! Welcome to the lair.

I have to admit, I haven't read a lot of scary suspense since I read a couple of Dean Koontz's books and found myself rechecking the locks on the windows and questioning the settling noises the house makes at night. However, I'm intriqued by the earthquake affecting San Quentin. Wonderful premise!

Thanks for sharing your writing process. I'm think you're correct that each author has their own unique process - I just wish my was a bit more efficient *g*. Writing is truly hard work - fun as all get out - but hard.

Thanks for joining us.

Deb Marlowe said...

Many congratulations on all of your success, Allison! My writing days follow the same pattern as yours, although I can barely handle writing and 2 kids, let alone 5!

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview today with Allison. She's a new author for me and her trilogy sounds right up my alley, I'll need to add to my TBR pile!

terrio said...

Thank you for answering my question, Allison. I edit as I go and my friends say I shouldn't do that, just get to the end then go back. But I just can't change the way I do it.

I forgot to mention some good villains. The two that come to mind right away are both female villains. One is from Jo Beverly's Rogues series, I believe her name was Therese and she was pure evil. Then there was the creepy ending of Nora Roberts Divine Evil. The plot revolves around devil worship in a small town and you don't really find out who the real crazy person is until almost the last page.

It's the last person anyone would have guessed and the fact she's some ordinary, civic group member, housewife lady makes her more creepy somehow.

Aunty Cindy said...

Morning everyone!
Hey, this is EARLY for me! Esp. when I was up late helping p226 "orient" the GR for his "assignment" today. (cue Mission Impossible music)

Joanie, I totally agree with you about Ben/Henry Gale on Lost. (shudders) He is ONE RUTHLESS CREEPY GUY! And the fact that he looks like a wimpy lil nobody is doubly scary. And to everyone who said it is the everyday person (like the psycho woman in Nora's book) nobody suspects, YES! That is the scariest villain of all, whether in fiction or real life (Scot Peterson?!?!).

Terrio, I tend to do the self-editing thing too. Jo-Mama calls me a "deliberate" writer (and yes, that's a compliment). Sometimes I wish I could just spew out big hunks of prose then go back and fix it later, but that's just not how *I* operate. :-( And it's rather interesting that I'm the opposite of Allison. My books tend to be weighted more heavily toward the romance rather than the suspense. But every one I write seems to be going a little more toward the suspense. :-P

'Tis a strange and wonderful process!


jo robertson said...

Cockadoodle doo, congrats, P226!

Great interview, AC, and thanks for joining us today in the Lair, Allison, chapter mate of both Cindy and me.

Chilling villains, hmmmm. The first time I read Silence of the Lambs, I knew there'd be no greater villain -- ever -- than Hannibal Lecter, but then I thought of Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame.

I like psychologically-complex villains, ones who have good reasons (in their own minds) for committing their crimes, perhaps ones the reader can understand -- almost.

Allison Brennan said...

Joan, I completely agree with you about Gale! Great example (and great characterization all around.)

Personally, my favorite villain on television right now is Sylar from HEROES. First, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Heroes all the way around. GREAT characters, great conflict, and all around fantastic. Adam Monroe was good, but I didn't love the set up in feudal Japan. It didn't work as well as it could have, IMO. But Sylar is evil.

Allison Brennan said...

Thanks Beth :) . . . in real life, killers like Scott Peterson and Ted Bundy are scariest because they don't LOOK evil. Not that all killers look the part, but some you can see it in what they say and do.

Christie, say hi and thanks to your mom for me! My mom and I share books all the time, and she introduced me to many of my favorite authors today.

Allison Brennan said...

Hi Donna! Yep, writing isn't easy. I sure wish I could be more efficient!

Deb, two of mine are a little older (12 and 14) so they aren't as demanding (they just want money.) I pay them well to help me out. :) It's really just a matter of being disciplined about writing time, something that I had a hard time with in January . . . it was hard to get back into the groove after CHristmas, everyone was sick at one time or another in December, and so I didn't write hardly anything in December. That was bad.

Thanks for stopping by, Tetewa!

Terrio, great example! I loved that book by Nora. It was one of the few books that made me fall in love with romantic suspense.

Hi AC, strange and wonderful indeed! LOL.

Jo, those are the villains I like the best as well. I think, maybe because I read a lot of mysteries and suspense and RS, that stereotypical villains are my single greatest pet peeve. I want to know that they have a reason for doing what they do, even if it's an "insane" reason--they need to be able to justify it convincingly to themselves for me to buy into it.

Katie said...

these books sound amazing!!! thanks for the interview, I loved it! and allison, congrats on your success!

Keira Soleore said...

Allison, welcome to the Lair!! Your career is shooting off into the stratosphere, and it's so wonderful to watch it happen. Many congratulations, and I'm hoping a little golden statuette goes home with you this July.

You're indeed a master at managing time! You're such a prolific writer with a family to manage. How do you fold in the business side of things in your day? Do you do that plus e-mail, blogs, and writing in your 9-3 slot?

rebekah said...

Hi Allison

I haven't read any of your books, but they sound really good. I'm going to have to read some. It is nice to find new authors to read.

Jennifer Y. said...

Hi!! I got my sister hooked on Allison Brennan books and she called me the other day all excited because she was able to get the latest! I can't wait to get and read it myself!

As for villians, I haven't read many recently but agree with many of the others here about some. I did read a romance with a villianous pirate recently who never left any of his victims alive until one night when the heroine was able to escape.

I have seen some in movies and television that are chilling. Oftentimes the villians in psychological thrillers are scarier to me than those that are more violent.

Good luck with the release!

p226 said...

Just an update, the GR radio'd in. He's at his third checkpoint. He has a great view from there. Said he heard a couple of coyotes to the south, but was unsure if they'd picked up his scent.

terrio said...

I have a feeling feathers will be flying by nightfall...

Maureen said...

Hi Allison!
I am amazed at all the books you have written while raising five children. You must be very organized.

C. Gwynn said...

Allison, I love your books! A great interview Cindy.

Anna Campbell said...

Allison, what a great answer. Thank you!

Helen, thanks for mentioning Lord John as your scary baddy. I must say, he really did give me the chills too when I wrote him.

Allison, did you always want to be a writer? Do you think you'd ever write anything aside from romantic suspense? Not that you'll ever need to, by the look of the way your career is taking off like a rocket!

Natalie Damschroder said...

Hi, Allison! Fabulous interview. I love hearing about people's processes.

I was a fan from your first release, but I'm woefully behind on your books. The Hunt is actually next on my TBR pile, to start tonight.

Anyway. You write fairly traditional romantic suspense (true villians, law enforcement involvement, etc.). And you write a lot of it! Do you ever worry about being fresh, that you might be covering ground already covered before?

Nancy said...

Okay, p226, you be nice to that rooster! And congratulations on taking him home.:-)

This was a great interview, Allison and Cindy. As for scary villains, I'm with the group for the ones who don't appear villainous but really are. I'm blanking on books right now and will probably think of a specific one after I sign off. *sigh*

p226 said...

Okay, p226, you be nice to that rooster!

His fate's in his own hands... er... talons.... er... claws... what do roosters have, anyway? But he's not even here. He's out training in the field. He's doing well. Hasn't missed a way-point check-in yet. Though, I could hear the "pap pap pap" sounds of small arms fire in the background of his last radio check. Probably havin' a little run-in with a coyote or something.

Cherie J said...

Hi Allison,

Enjoyed the interview! As for scary villians. Some of the books I have read have had some really evil groups of people in it. One villian is bad enough but when there are a group of them watch out. I am currently reading Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh and every time I read about the psy council I am appalled by how truly evil and cruel they are.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, thinking of really scary villains. The Terminator in the first Terminator movie is one of the scariest villains I've ever seen. He's just SOOOO relentless and machine-like (well, he would be). That bit where he starts killing every Sarah Connor in the phone book - I remember the first time I watchefd that thinking, oh, man, this movie is going to be so scary! Brilliant piece of writing!

Anna Sugden said...

*waves* Hi Alison - great to have you here! I remember back when you were heating up the contest circuit with me bringing up the rear. I knew then you'd do brilliantly! Folks, if you haven't read Alison yet - get to a bookstore pronto!!

Absolutely loved both your series and just bought your latest (though I may have to wait to read it until all three are out - I love to read them in one go!). The way you twist the plot to keep the reader guessing is awe-inspiring (OK will stop being a fan-girl!)

BTW I agree with Jo about Patrick!

Chilling villains - yours and Mariah Stewart's. The villain in Linda Howard's Dying to Please was a shiver-maker! For me, the more ordinary they seem, the more chilling they are!

Anna Sugden said...

P226 ... I'm sure that rooster can take on a few wily coyotes! ;)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair, Allison! Be ware of Banditas swinging from the rafters and Joan's Romans, they're our cabanna boys!

I love your storied, but fear I can only read one at a time and still walk to my car in the early dark hours of the morning. :)

I do have a question, or perhaps it's an observation. You have 5 children and write chilling romantic suspense. Our Jo has 7 children and she does to...Uhm is this a way of getting out some frustration?

Joan said...

Spurs, p226. Roosters got spurs.

I think.

Hello, Natalie D.! Good to see you!

Suz and Donna, I agree that it is difficult to go about your day to day after reading a book with a truly evil/creepy/sinister villian.

After I read Suz Brockmann's "Into the Storm"? Well, suffice to say after reading about that killer I never looked at tupperware the same and dashed to my car locking the door immediately after getting in.

I mean if a villain creeps our a team of Navy SEALS? Yikes!

Jane said...

Hi Allison,
I'm happy to hear that Patrick will recover. I think you and Kay Hooper have created some of the creepiest villains. I think human traffickers are some of the most heinous criminals and it's hard to comprehend how some people treat other humans beings.

jo robertson said...

Thanx for dropping by the Lair, maureen, c.gwynn, and natalie d.

I think Allison's out doing "mommy duty" about now, but maybe she'll get a chance to check back in later. And we will announce the two winners of Allison's giveaway tomorrow afternoon so be sure to check back in then. Oh, and our special guest blogger tomorrow will be none other than the FABULOUS Deb Marlowe!

Oh, and we'll undoubtedly have a full report on how the Golden Rooster fared in his field mission. I'm with VA, our bird can handle a few coyotes!


Allison Brennan said...

I took a break from blogging to write! Gotta keep the words coming. I did well today so far, but I have more to do to meet my deadline . . . fortunately, my mom is picking the kids up from school so I have two more hours before I need to go home and put on my mommy hat.

First, sorry Cindy, I didn't know you also went by Auntie Cindy! Duh.

Hi Katie! Thank you :)

Keira (GREAT name!!! I had a Keira in one of my unpublished manuscripts . . . )

Managing time. Well, I TRY (big TRY) to stay offline during my writing time. I usually fail, but I'm getting better. I usually get up by six am and get through most of my emails and read my favorite blogs before seven, when I need to get the kids up (if they haven't gotten up on their own.) After I get them off to school, I head for Starbucks (or home to shower if I forgot to do that!) and check email otherwise I'll be thinking about it :) . . . then I log off and write. Sometimes while I eat lunch (I'm having a late lunch now) I'll go back online and check email and whatnot.

But writing time is writing time. For me, it's hardest to keep the focus when I'm stuck or struggling or second guessing myself. Fortunately, once I'm past the midpoint it gets easier for me.

I will write at night after the kids go to bed when I'm on deadline. Some of the other stuff I do while I'm flittering around the house, like blog hopping or if I need to research something. Unless it's plot critical, I don't research during writing time. I get too caught up in it and waste HOURS.

Thanks for stopping by, Rebekah!

Allison Brennan said...

Hi Jennifer!! Thank you for hooking your sister, and tell her I said HI. :) . . .

I agree that it's often the THREAT that is scarier than the actual murder. It's why FEAR NO EVIL was scary I think--the anticipation that Lucy would die if they didn't find her in time. My first book, THE PREY, was almost purely psychological suspense (though people did die) . . .

Maureen, you might be able to hear me laughing. Certainly, if my mom read your comment, she'd be rolling around on the floor in giggles. I am NOT organized. Never have been. When I attempt organization, I can't get anything done.

Thanks Gwynn for letting me know you enjoy my books!

Aunty Cindy said...

Sorry about the multiple posts there a bit ago! Blogger hiccupped then decided I was Jo-Mama. But I THINK I'm back in my Aunty Cindy persona now...

Allison Brennan said...

Anna, I have always wanted to be a writer. I've always written stories, but I never finished anything until I got serious. I had a career, I got married, had kids, and everything else seemed more important than my dream. It wasn't until I hit 30 and was dissatisfied with my career and thinking about what I wanted to accomplish but hadn't, and wanting a job where I could be home for the kids when they got out of school, that I really committed myself to finishing a book. (Really, I thought that FINISHING the book would be harder than getting it published. Okay. Stop laughing.) It took me five books before I sold, but that's okay because I learned something with each story.

I love romantic suspense. I love to read it and I love to write it. I think a romance element in any genre is always better than none. I did write a supernatural romantic suspense and I hope to sell more of those because I loved writing it, and I have ideas for both historicals and futuristics--but everything is romantic suspense. I haven't gotten tired of writing it, and I don't see that I will in the near future.

Hi Natalie! Fancy meeting you here :)

Everything has pretty much been done, hasn't it? I hope that my take on the traditional romantic suspense is a little different, that my voice is different enough that people will be engaged in the story. Every genre has it's limitations. Historicals have conventions that must be followed, suspense is usually about a hero, heroine, and villain.

Now, KILLING FEAR has my first non-law enforcement heroine. It was a challenge to write--I like strong women and I didn't want to make her TSTL (another big pet peeve.) But I had fun with Robin. And TEMPTING EVIL has another non-law enforcement heroine. Joanna is a romance writer.

I like law enforcement because they can really do something about the bad guys. But I never say never--someday I might try something different :) Though one thing is . . . I firmly believe you have to love what you're writing and not write to the market, because if you are successful, your readers will have certain expectations and if you don't meet them, they will be disappointed. This can keep you locked into writing similar books.

Allison Brennan said...

Hi Nancy! THanks for stopping by :)

Cherie, I agree about groups of killers. SEE NO EVIL was about teenage thrill killers. And I'm finishing PLAYING DEAD right now where the killers will do anything to protect what they have.

Anna, the terminator was great because he didn't hesitate. He wasn't human. He aimed and fired and killed. He had no emotion or regret.

Allison Brennan said...

Thank you Anna! I appreciate your enthusiasm :) . . . this trilogy is less connected than the others. The only real connection is the villains. The only recurring characters are Hans Vigo (in FEAR and EVIL) and Mitch Bianchi (in EVIL and the hero of DEAD.)

I'm glad you like my villains :) . . . and DYING TO PLEASE is one of my all-time fave Linda Howard books. I loved the story and the heroine. And Mariah Stewart goes without saying--she's wonderful. I particularly loved her villain in DEAD WRONG, the villain who loved dogs.

Okay, I need to sign off for now . . . that discipline thing. I'll be back later tonight to finish answering questions!!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Congrats on the GR, P226! Woo-hoo! :> It's porbably good that he hangs out with you periodically. Keeps him on the testosterone side of the road. Grins. After all, he gets a lot of pampering otherwise. Ha!

Hi Allison! *waving* Shared a drink in the bar with you at Dallas and found you just as charming there as here today. Thanks for joining us in the Lair! I LOVED The Prey. Chilling! And it did stand alone, but it was then fun to read the other connected books.

P226, I agree with you on the real-life villains being equally chilling if not moreso than fictional ones. Brrrr. And King does create a heck of a villain...

I think our HardWorkingMom Dianna has it right though that the most chilling are the ones you don't suspect until waaaaaay too late. Bwah-hah-ha!

Anna S., that Linda Howard villain, was scary, as was Anna's C's. I do love a good villain.

Allison, how old was your youngest when you got The Call? I bow down to you and our own JoMama for having more than 2 and still managing to write with any kind of regularity. I manage it only with daycare. (BTW, did I say, Thank God for daycare?) Loved hearing about your process, thanks for sharing it and your wisdom with us.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

BTW, P226, roosters have talons and spurs unless they're clipped, which the GR is most certainly NOT! Grins. Glad to know he's managing that weapon with ease though...

catslady said...

I have the triology which are fantastic but would love a chance at the new anthology!! Great interview.

Ann M. said...

I love your books Allison.

Some of your villains are very chilling. Nora as JD Robb has had some chilling villains.

doglady said...

Hi Allison! I loved your first trilogy! Scared the pants off me! Speaking of scary - congrats on the GR, p226. A few more visits with you and he will be able to survive just about anything.

Allison, it is so good to hear that not everyone plots things out and that some people start the book and hang on for the ride. There are times I feel like that is exactly what is happening to me.

This was a great interview and I picked up so many great tips! I have to remind myself to listen to my own voice and not try to twist it into something that will "sell." I have stories to tell and all I can do is tell them the way I want to. Thanks for that advice.

As my late DH was a prison psychiatrist I know more than I want to about the criminal mind. I still have Roger's files. I cannot bring myself to destroy them because he worked so hard on them. He did intense studies of serial killers and sociopaths. There was one prisoner in particular that really disturbed him. The man was in on a 25 to life for rape and attempted murder. The thing is he confessed to several rapes and murders in the Southeast. As the man's shrink Roger couldn't reveal any of it, but it truly bothered him. Any time the man came up for parole Roger was there to talk to the judge. He said the man was a broken machine and no power on earth or in heaven could cure him. The judge listened thank God. Once Roger left the prison system I have no idea what happened, but it scares the dust out of me.

I think in romance novels the villain that doesn't appear to be one is the scariest. Then again, in my one third finished novel Dreams of Angels, the villain is a cruel manipulative man. When he is murdered the question isn't who had a motive to kill him, but who didn't. And the depth of his crimes is only discovered after his death. I kind of like that.

Anna Campbell said...

Allison you've been a fantastic guest. Please come back and see us in the lair again. And congratulations again on your phenomenal success.

Anonymous said...

Allison, I'm sorry I didn't swing by earlier, but this was an absolutely fabulous interview, and I learned so much just from reading all the questions and answers!! Thanks for stopping by to hang with the Banditas and crew!!

Allison Brennan said...

Suzanne, I'll leave Jo and my motivation up to your imagination. :)

Really, I'm a very boring person.

Joan, now I really want to put INTO THE STORM at the top of my TBR pile! Suz is one of the best out there.

Jane, thank you for putting me in such great company. I love Kay Hooper. She's fabulous. BTW, I've got more reader mail on Patrick than anyone. Even Jack (though Jack is a close second--he's the most alpha character I've created since John Flynn in THE PREY.)

Hi Jeanne! Are you going to SF? I'm really looking forward to it. Of course, it's the only conference where I don't have to pay airfare, the expensive rooms don't bother me as much. We'll have to have another drink :)

Would you believe that my youngest was minus three months? Yep, I was six months pregnant with my youngest, who is now three and a half. It's amazing this business. I sold really fast (march 04), but it took nearly two years to get my book on the shelf (jan 06). And now, just two years later, book #7 is out. Fast, slow, fast, slow, ugh. Not that I'm complaining, but the business is really unpredictable sometimes! And Jeanne, my youngest is in preschool--before that, he had a babysitter. I couldn't do this without day care, either.

I think being a woman, and a mom, we are always looked at being the primary caregiver. Those who work full time, it's usually the mom (not the dad) who takes a sick day to stay home with sick kids. When I was working full-time in the legislature, my husband stayed home ONCE with a sick child and I stayed home every other time. Yet, when we're working from home we tend to feel guilty that our kids are in day care . . . but I'll tell you, the first year after I quit, I kept them home . . . and I couldn't write. I still wrote at night. You can't do that and write three books a year. At least I can't. So I got over the guilt real quick. If I wasn't writing books, I would be working 9-5 (which for them is 8-6 in school because of commuting.) This way, I can pick everyone up at 3 and do what I love to do.

Allison Brennan said...

Hi catslady! Thank you so much; I'm so glad you enjoyed them. The anthology has a supernatural flavor and I had a blast writing it. It still sounds like "me", but the primary villain is a demon.

Hi Ann, thank you! I love, love, love JD Robb. I've read nearly every one (missed the first five or six.) The pacing, the characters, the villains, the mysteries . . . they keep getting better and better.

doglady, I'm so glad you enjoyed the trilogy. I'll always have a soft spot for my first :)

Your husband must have had some terrifying stories. I can only imagine what he had to listen to. I think he was right that some people are simply broken. Why? Maybe a whole bunch of different reasons. Early childhood, head injuries, genetics, maybe we'll never know with some. But it's our duty as a society to keep the broken people off the streets. I commend Roger for being a good part of the system.

Thanks Anna, Kirsten, Cindy and every bandit for having me! It's been fun :) Now . . . it's 9:19 pm here, the kids are asleep, and because I'm on deadline . . . you guessed it. It's back to the book.


blackroze37 said...

i love your books!!!!!!! great reads!

Keira Soleore said...

Allison, thanks so much for your detailed reply to my time management question. You're indeed a guru when it comes to that.

Christine Wells said...

I just wanted to thank you for scaring me even more, Allison!LOL Be careful what you wish for--ominous words, indeed:)

And thanks for those words of support, Anna. I neeeeeded thaaaat!

Anna Sugden said...

It's been great having you here, Alison ... and selfishly, I'm glad you're working hard on that book!

Just wanted to add one more to my chilling villains' author list - Tess Gerritsen. Every one from The Surgeon onwards has been incredible!

Melissa said...

I love Romantic Suspense! Just purchased "Killing Fear" and can't wait to start reading!