Jen: Today we welcome Allison Brennan to Romancing the Book as we continue our look at mysteries and thrillers. Allison, will you share a short bio with us?
Allison: Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of two dozen books and many short stories. She lives in Northern California with her husband, five children and numerous pets.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Allison: NOTORIOUS is the first book in the Max Revere investigative reporter series. It’s also my first hardcover (after 21 mass market originals!) It’ll be out in paperback in January, followed by book two in the series, COMPULSION, in hardcover on April 7, 2015.
In NOTORIOUS, Max goes home for a funeral and finds herself in the middle of two cold cases – the 13 year old murder of her best friend, and a more recent crime of a young architect. The only thing the murders have in common is that they both occurred at her alma mater.
I came up with Maxine Revere five years ago. I originally envisioned her as a guy who, haunted for years by the murder of his high school sweetheart, became a reporter specializing in cold cases. When I pitched the idea to my agent, he loved the concept, but said, “What if Max was Maxine?” Suddenly, everything clicked. She immediately came to mind, fully formed, as if to say, “That’s right. I’m a girl. Deal with it.”
Because Max is an open character, I knew her well almost from page one. She doesn’t know who her father is. Her mother was a trust fund baby who flitted around the country, taking Max along for the ride. As soon as they made friends, it was adios, so Max has some issues about abandonment. But because she’s always been honest with herself, she recognizes her flaws.
When Max was ten, her mother left her with her very wealthy grandparents in Atherton, California, during Thanksgiving weekend. She never returned. Periodically, Max would receive a postcard, but she never saw or spoke to her mother again. When Max was eighteen, her best friend Lindy was murdered and another good friend, Kevin, tried for the crime. The jury was hung, and he was never re-tried, but most people in town—except Max—believed he was guilty. When Max was in college, she and her roommate went to Miami for Spring Break. Her roommate disappeared and was presumed dead, but her body was never found. Max spent a year in Miami investigating the case on her own, and ended up writing a true crime novel, which became her first book. After, she reported on crime—primarily missing persons and cold cases—as a freelance reporter based out of New York City. Two years ago, she was enticed to host a monthly newsmagazine on cable television, where she explores in-depth a cold case she investigates.
All this is backstory for Max … NOTORIOUS begins when she goes back home after not visiting for nearly two years. Kevin committed suicide … or did he? Kevin had been investigating Lindy’s murder, trying to clear his name, and ends up dead of a drug overdose. Max finds herself in the middle of his notes and wondering if he did uncover a lead; also, she becomes curious about the more recent murder of an architect who was shot at the site of the new gym. Her family doesn’t want her to investigate, and neither does her ex-boyfriend, but Max never backs away from a challenge, and she doesn’t take threats sitting down.
Jen: What is your favorite breakfast food.
Allison: Cold pizza.
Jen: Do you have a song that you put on replay?
Allison: No, but I have a playlist of about 60 rock songs that I have on auto-shuffle. The list is dominated by Three Days Grace, The Who, Fall Out Boy, and Bad Company.
Jen: Which reality show would you want to be on?
Allison: I never watch reality television. They would have to pay me millions of dollars to even consider it! And I still might turn it down.
Jen: What is your dream vacation spot?
Allison: Ireland. I really, really, really want to spend three months in Ireland, and hope to be able to do it when my youngest graduates from high school in 7 years and 8 months. Not that I’m counting or anything!
Jen: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Allison: Setting up my Snow Villages every Christmas. I have about 60 of them and dozens of accessories. I’ve been collected for more than 20 years.
Jen: What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
Allison: Guardians of the Galaxy! Loved it!
Jen: What is your favorite animal?
Allison: Cat. I’ll be a crazy cat lady when the kids are out of the house, I’m sure!
Jen: What first attracts you to the opposite sex?
Allison: Is this a trick question? Hmm … A genuine smile. Okay, maybe that’s the second thing. Probably muscular arms.
Jen: How far from where you grew up do you live?
Allison:Two hours, about 120 miles.
Jen: What is one of your bad habits?
Jen: What do you collect?
Allison: Other than the Snow Villages? And books? And Disney movies? Not much …
Jen: Do you have any siblings? Where are you in birth order, if so?
Allison: Nope! I’m an only child
Jen: What’s next for you?
Allison: COMPULSION is already in production, so I’m working on the next Lucy Kincaid thriller—the ninth book in the series! For me, writing two series is a blessing. I’m excited for each story and I don’t get bored with the characters because I can write a Lucy book then a Max book, keeping the series fresh and interesting. If I’m not excited, then my readers won’t be, either!