New York Times and USA Today bestseller Allison Brennan is the author of thirteen novels and three short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children. Besides that, she's a really nice person. Please welcome, Allison Brennan as she answers The Get Lost Crew's fun questions.
Donnell: Which of your characters would you most/least want to invite to dinner, and why?
Allison: I would love to have dinner will Dillon Kincaid and Kate Donovan because they are both the most interesting characters to me. I also would love to have dinner with secondary character Hans Vigo who has been in many of my books.
I wouldn't like to dine with any of my villains! Especially Trask from Fear No Evil. He creeps me out. Or the killing pair in Sudden Death. Out of the other characters, I think I'd have nothing to talk about with Nelia Kincaid. I'd be nervous about her, but I need to get over that because I may have a story idea for Lucy, Carina and Nelia.
Donnell: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Allison: Yes, I read them, I can't help it. I'm a glutton for punishment. They don't influence me, however, 99% of the time. I can't please all readers. I write for myself, then my editor, then my readers--those who enjoy my voice and stories. There are some people who'll never like my books, and that's OK. If I tried to please everyone, my books would be a mess. And if everyone liked the same types of stories, the world would be a boring place. The only time something might inluence me is if several people made a similar comment, especially about something my gut told me was a problem. But the only time I can think of where I did pay attention, it was something very specific to one book. It wouldn't influence me in future books because it's irrelevant now.
The International Thriller Writers Worst Book Review Award has really helped me put reviews in perspective. When some of the bestselling, and some of my favorite authors, like Lee Child and James Rollins get awful reviews--and these guys share them for everyone at the banquet to laugh at--it makes me not take most reviews too seriously.
Donnell: (Good to know, A. thanks.) Have you ever written a character who wasn't meant to be a hero/heroine but he/she wouldn't go away?
Allison: Hans Vigo was supposed to die in one of my books, but I couldn't do it. He grew on me. I've kept him around. I won't say he'll never die, but it would be extremely difficult if someone killed him. On me, and my characters who all love him too! He isn't going to be a hero, however. He might have a secondary romance.
I usually know when I meet a character that they'll be a hero or heroine someday, even if I don't plant it. When Jack showed up in Fear No Evil, he almost took over. I didn't have a story idea for him at the time, and he was very mysterious. But I knew he'd be back even though I didn't plan it, and I didn't know who his heroine would be.
Donnell: What name have you been dying to use as a lead character, but haven't found the right fit yet?
Allison: None. Characters come to me first. Sometimes, they come fully developed and named (Sean Rogan, Nora English, Sonia Knight, Miranda Moore, Nick Thomas) and other times they are more elusive and I go through multiple possible names (Robin McKenna, JoAnna Sutton, Moira O'Donnell.) I've never had a name before a character.
Donnell: What's in your refrigerator right now.
Allison: This blog isn't big enough for me to list everything! Remember, I have five kids. Milk, chocolate milk, ham, salami, cheese, apples, lettuce, oranges, homemade salsa that my friend brought over Saturday for a party, leftover cheesecake. Though by the time you read this, the cheesecake will be gone. Probably the most interesting item is a large Costco size jar of marinated artichoke hearts. I love them in salads and pasta!
Donnell: What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
Allison: I don't know. I'm pretty open and straightforward. Maybe that I'm really not organized, that I procrastinate worse than most people, and writing is hard work. That no matter how easy it looks like, there is no easy road in this business--not mine, and not anyone else's.
Donnell: Is Elvis really dead.
Donnell: (spoken like a pragmatic thriller writer). What is your favorite tradition from your childhood that you would love to pass on, or did pass on to your children?
Allison: Big, family Christmases. Decorating the tree with a variety of ornaments, especially homemade ornaments.
Donnell: What does it mean to love somebody?
Allison: To trust them with everything you think, feel and desire.
Donnell: What color would you make the sky if it weren't going to be blue anymore?
Donnell: What do you do to unwind and relax?
Allison: Play video games and watch old movies. Or, take a long, hot bubble bath. With a glass of wine.
Donnell: Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Allison: I don't let writer's block stop me from writing. I can't. Some days it's harder to write than others, but I sit down and write, even if I know it's crap and I'm going to delete it the next day. If I'm really struggling, I usually reread what I've already written and see if I know where the story derailed. Every time I'm stuck it's either stress from the business part of writing that I can't push aside during my writing time, or it's because I'm forcing the story down a path that's wrong.
Donnell: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Allison: That I am happiest as a writer. Being published and writing full-time was my dream, but I didn't realize how much writing was such a part of me, deep down in my core, until I quit my day job and my daughter told me she'd never seen me happier.
Donnell: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Allison: I don't know about interesting...I have lots of oddities. I write to loud rock music most of the time. I write faster when I'm not at my desk, but edit better in my office. I don't like anyone asking me if I'm almost done, or really anything about my work-in-progress, as if talking about it will jinx me, but the weirdest thing? I tend to talk to myself, especially in the car. Thank God for hands free cell phones! Now other drivers don't think I'm crazy!
Donnell: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?
Allison: There are many. One tidbit was that none of the guys caught by Dateline's Predator show were prosecuted. (I learned that during my FBI class in 2008.) Maybe now, but I haven't heard anything.
Donnell: What is your favorite kid joke?
Allison: What's black and white and read all over? A newspaper. Except my kids don't get it.
Donnell (I wonder why? :)) Which era would you least have liked to live in, fashion-wise?
Allison: The seventies. Yuck.
Donnell: Tell me how many hats do you have in your home?
Allison: For me? Two...My FBI cap and my Mickey Mouse Santa hat. My boys have lots of ball caps.
Donnell: Dog or cat person?
Allison: Cat person.
Donnell: Which is your favorite language other than your native language?
Donnell: If you were given a chance to travel to the past, where would you go and specifically why?
Allison: The American Revolution. It's my favorite historical time period and I'd love to meet those who started the Revolution, specifically Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Abigail Adams, and Sam Adams. To be a fly on the wall during both the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the first congress!
Donnell: How much money does it take to make you happy?
Allison: Money doesn't make people happy. You can be happy and dirt poor, and happy and rich; likewise, you can be miserable and broke, and miserable and rich. Happiness truly only comes from within. If people are dependent on people or things for their happiness, they'll never be happy.
Donnell: If you couldn't be a writer anymore, what profession would you choose?
Allison: I don't even want to go there! I'm too old to join the FBI.
Donnell: What's the first thing you do when you finish a book?
Allison: Type THE END.
Donnell: And finally, if you could interview one person (and it doesn't have to be a writer), who would it be?
Allison: Another hard question! Probably Joss Whedon or Eric Kripke.
Allison, thanks for joining us today. Questions or Comments for Allison? We'll be giving away a $10.00 gift certificate to B&N for one commenter and a copy of LOVE ME TO DEATH for another!
Please join GLIAS tomorrow as Cat Schield hosts Romantic Comedy Author, Barbara Dunlop.
Congratulations to Gillian Layne. You have won LOVE ME TO DEATH by Allison Brennan & to Jill James. Y ou have won the $10 B&N gift certificate!