Thursday, January 26, 2023

Allison Brennan

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said her books are “mesmerizing” and “complex.” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense (five times), and twice won the Daphne du Maurier award. She lives in Arizona with her family and assorted pets.

Brennan's new novel is Don't Open the Door.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

While Don’t Open the Door could be taken literally, and likely most suspense readers would see this as a teaser of the suspense (don’t open the door! There’s a bad guy outside!), the title is actually more figurative in the story itself. We all lie to ourselves at different times -- sometimes because we don’t want to see the truth about a friend or situation, sometimes because we don’t want to see what’s really in our heart or mind. Sometimes, we shut the proverbial door to our past in order to be able to survive, especially when we’re dealing with pain, grief, betrayal.

Regan Merritt could leave this door closed — the murder of her son a year ago, the betrayal of her husband when he blamed her, her grief and buried anger. She walked away from her career, moved cross- country, was rebuilding her life. Yet … can she really walk away, shut the door on her past? Because once you open the door, you never know what you may find.

What's in a name?

Some characters walk on the page and tell me exactly who they are, some characters take time to reveal their secrets as I write. I rarely name my characters — sometimes I go through multiple names until I hit upon the right one. Before I wrote a word of The Sorority Murder (Regan’s first book), I thought I knew who Regan Merritt was — her name came to me, I could picture her fully, I knew how she would react to every situation, every conversation. Yet … the more I wrote her, the more I realized she had depth I needed to unearth. Regan is a strong name, quiet, confident, smart — which matches her character.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Somewhat surprised. I read mostly horror and mysteries when I was a teen, so my 15-year-old self would be thinking, okay, you have suspense and mystery here, but where’s the jump-out-of-my-skin scare? Where’s the blood and gore?

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings. Hands down, beginnings are hard. It takes me three times longer to write the first 100 pages of my books than it takes me to write the last 300 pages. And almost always, I have more editor revisions/notes in the first 100 pages than in the rest of the book.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think some of my characters are more like me than others, but none are me. I think my main characters most align with my worldview — which is why I write crime fiction and solve what is sometimes unsolvable. I try to put myself in the shoes of every character I write, to think how they think and do what they would do. But I am definitely not as exciting or brave as my characters.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

True crime — mostly true crime books. I was a true crime addict when I was younger, starting with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which I read when I was 13. I follow the news — mostly crime news. But I think my biggest inspiration is people watching. I’m always observing others, especially strangers, and making up stories about them. I listen to their tone, watch body language, look at how they dress, how they talk to others, assess their emotional state. My imagination then runs away with me…
Visit Allison Brennan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Don't Open the Door.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Open the Door.

--Marshal Zeringue