Wednesday 13 April 2016

Blog Tour Interview - Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Sister Dear
Author: Laura McNeil
Publisher: HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson
Pages: 336
Genre: Domestic Suspense

Book Description:
All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return to Brunswick, Georgia, sends earthquakes through the small, coastal community. Even her daughter Caroline, now a teenager, challenges Allie’s claims of innocence.

Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a campaign for the truth, digging deep into the past. Her investigation threatens her parole status, her own safety, and the already-fragile bond with her family. What Allie uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

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Author Interview

1. Tell us a bit about your writing background. How did you get started writing?
I worked as a news reporter for six years and had so many interesting, compelling and exciting stories to share. I had been out in peanut fields with farmers, watched courtroom drama, visited prisons, and met many elected officials, including governors, senate leaders, and one candidate for vice president.

When I decided to make a career change and began writing full-time, I started under the pen name Lauren Clark writing humorous women’s fiction set in the Deep South. My agent found me through my second book, and asked if I’d written any dramas or suspense. Luckily, I had the manuscripts for Center of Gravity and Sister Dear ready to go.

2. Who/What were your earliest influences?
My earliest influences ranged from Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume to Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner. On the thriller/suspense side, I love a good James Patterson novel, am a Gillian Flynn fan, and read all of Lisa Gardner’s books.

3. Did you face any early challenges to finding success in writing?
I did try to find an agent for my first Lauren Clark book, Stay Tuned. I had a lot of really nice rejection letters come back to me with “I really liked it, just not enough” or “keep writing” and “this one isn’t quite there yet, send us your next manuscript.

Instead of getting discouraged, I indie-published all four novels, which eventually led to me landing an agent and a two-book contract with HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson. I think those early challenges were necessary for me to learn and grown and find success as a writer.

4. What are your favorite books as a reader today? What qualities in them appeal to you?
My favorite recent books include “In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware, “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith, and “Girl on a Train” by Paula Hawkins. Each brings a delicious mix of excellent writing, plotting, and the twists and turns needed to capture and hold a reader’s attention.

5. What do you do outside your writing life?
Outside my writing life, I’m a mom of two growing boys who are the light of my life. I love spending time with friends, travelling, and researching my next book. During the week, I work full time as an instructional design manager, which means that I help faculty (at the college where I work) to design and implement hybrid or online courses. I also take classes in instructional leadership at the University of Alabama.

6. What encouragement helped you along the way?
I worked with two exemplary professional editors before Center of Gravity was every ready to be seen by an agent. They pushed me hard to improve my writing and plotting, and taught me a lot about the revision process and how important it is to the success of a novel. Above all, they gave me praise when I improved and pushed me when I felt like I might never publish my books. I am indebted to both women for their expertise and encouragement.

7. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
To write that first manuscript from start to finish, no matter how awful it seems. Wrapping up a 70 or 80,000 word-book is a monumental feat, something that takes patience and dedication. Being a writer can be a very solitary task, and there is no one who will push you or hold your hand along the way. Writing is a commitment in which you make an agreement with yourself that you will do the very best you can every time you sit down at the keyboard.

8. What's up next for your fans?
I’ve just finished the first draft of a suspense novel set in New Orleans. It centers on the attempted abduction of a teenage girl after her father’s restaurant opening in the French Quarter. Fearing for her life, the girl goes on the run, seeking help from everyone she knows, yet being betrayed at every turn. Finally, with the help from a most unlikely ally, she discovers the truth behind the attack and how it is linked to her mother’s untimely death several years earlier.

9. What has been your biggest compliment?
My biggest compliments come from readers who tell me that my novels really resonated with them, that they connected with the characters, and that the story stayed with them for a long time after they finished the last page.

10. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans and readers?
I am deeply thankful to everyone who everyone who has supported my work over the years, written reviews, and told a friend about my books. I feel blessed every day to share my writing with the world and to have readers embrace those stories is the best feeling ever.

About the Author
Laura McNeil is a writer, mom, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Northern Alabama with her family.  
Her latest book is the domestic suspense, Sister Dear.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be showcased on CBY Book Club! I loved the Q & A ... and I'm thrilled that you shared Sister Dear with your readers! xo, Laura