Interview: June 3, 2011
Sisters Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush have teamed up to write WICKED LIES, a sequel to their 2009 romantic suspense novel, WICKED GAME. Their latest is a paranormal thriller in which a psychopath is hell-bent on destroying a newly pregnant woman who has the psychic ability to sense evil approaching. In this interview, conducted by Bookreporter.com's Amie Taylor, Jackson and Bush discuss their collaboration, musing on their characters --- both villainous and heroic --- as well as why readers and writers enjoy edgy tales of serial killers. They also offer glimpses into their future projects, both individually and as a team.
Bookreporter.com: Many people have a black sheep member in their family, but Justice Turnbull takes the cake. How did you create a character so bent on the destruction of his entire family?
Lisa Jackson: I think he was born twisted and "different" with his unique "gift," if that's what you called it. The fact that he was an outsider and continually taunted and teased by the colony members also added to his need for revenge.
Nancy Bush: Justice never found a way to fit in, and he let his feelings of rejection grow and magnify until they simply overtook him. Worse, he was able to wreak destruction on his targets, the Colony, using psychic methods. He's one messed-up dude.
BRC: My heart really went out to Laura as she tries to protect her own life and that of her unborn baby. How did you have the heart to put her through such absolute terror at what should be a happy time of life?
LJ: Oh, I think it's important for a heroine to go through hell before she gets to heaven in a story; same is true of the hero. Their trials build their character.
NB: Laura finds out she's pregnant right after her marriage has failed. And in the next moment she learns Justice has escaped and is coming after her. I liked that she had to 1) accept the baby when it's like the worst time in her life to be pregnant, and 2) figure out where to go from here. Is it with another man like Harrison? Or is it back with the Colony? She truly has one foot in each world, the Colony's and the present, and her journey and decision making was the crux of the story.
BRC: Laura is a touching character, and I love her ability to pick up on the medical condition of her patients simply by touching them. Do you think good nurses sometimes almost have a psychic power in real life that allows them to minister to their patients?
LJ: Wouldn't that make things easier? I was just in the hospital, and I'll have to say a big, resounding "no" to that one. Some of the nurses, though, are very empathetic and they've seen hundreds of patients, so they do understand what a patient is going through. But psychic?
NB: I'd love them to be psychic, but my experience with nurses is that they've seen it all and they're really efficient at their jobs. And they would really just like you, the patient, to be your own advocate, pay attention and do everything possible to get yourself well because they have dozens more coming in behind you. It's kind of like, let's get on with this, people!
BRC: Harrison Frost is a yummy hero and the perfect man for Laura to lean on during such a trying time. What inspired you to place him in the role of the "truth seeker"?
LJ: Harrison was really Nancy's creation, so I'll let her field that one.
NB: I really wanted someone who'd been beaten down, in a way, as Harrison was in his job. He was disbelieved and basically lost his job over his own convictions. So when he meets Laura, he's in a place where he's more open to accepting that she has extra abilities. He's had to let his own "macho" go a little and it helps him connect with her. You're right, he is a yummy hero! I really liked writing him.
BRC: The Colony is such a fascinating place. Why do you think these women chose to close themselves away from society, and why did their lives involve such secrecy?
LJ: I think it was a natural thing to hide when their abilities were realized, and of course there were more than a few ugly skeletons in the closets of Siren Song. More reason to lock the gates!
NB: One of their own, Catherine, took a look around about 25 years ago and thought she needed to employ stricter rules or chaos would reign. (She wasn't wrong!) Catherine then decreed that the Colony women would wear clothes out of the 1800s, and the whole clan started living as if they were from another century. Now, however, her obsession with keeping all things about the Colony secret is taking a serious beating in WICKED LIES.
BRC: What is it that fascinates you about murderers and serial killers enough to enable you to write about them in such a realistic way?
LJ: It's the psychosis that fascinates me, trying to understand what makes a villain tick. In the case of all of my characters, including those who are serial killers, I try to understand their motivations so that the reader, too, can peek into their demented minds. I find things I don't understand interesting.
BRC: All fiction writers seem to live with their characters in their heads for months or even years. Have you ever created a character who actually scared you even though he existed only in your imagination?
LJ: Of course! If the villain doesn't scare/intrigue me, how can I make him or her fascinating to the reader? That said, I would NEVER hang out with any of these guys. Never!
BRC: Why do you think people enjoy reading novels that keep them on edge the way yours do?
LJ: Why do people go into haunted houses, or step onto a roller coaster guaranteed to scare the liver out of them? We all need thrills of a sort, adrenalin rushes, and what better way to do it than all in your mind, in the comfort and safety of your home? That's the beauty of books, isn't it? They take you wherever you want to go, but you can still be physically at home. Pretty damn cool, if you ask me.
BRC: I read that a psychic predicted your success as a writer and a mother, even though you may have been skeptical at the time. In WICKED LIES, psychic abilities and communications play a large part in the story. What are your feelings on psychic phenomena?
NB: I sort of want to believe, but I'm not sure I really do. I was amazed how accurate that psychic/palm reader was, however. When she predicted my future, I thought she was way off, but her predictions pretty much came true. Still, I have an incredibly strong governor inside my head that questions everything, which is kind of a pain sometimes. But I love being swept away into a world where psychic abilities are at play.
BRC: You've written young adult novels and category romance and historical romance books, as well as romantic suspense novels. Do you prefer writing one type of book over another?
NB: I like the variety, obviously, but I'm definitely partial to theJane Kelly Mystery Series and hope to write more of those soon, too.
BRC: You also wrote five Nancy Drew mysteries, a series that has touched the lives of numerous readers for generations. How did you feel to have your work accepted for such an established series?
NB: I was a HUGE Nancy Drew fan as a kid. I remember it was the gift everyone gave me for birthdays and Christmas and whatever. I just sucked them up. So when I read that there was a chance to write for them, I sent the publisher copies of my work and eventually they accepted me. It was GREAT.
BRC: You lived in New York City for a while and wrote for "All My Children." How did life in the Big Apple compare to your lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest?
NB: It was fun. So much fun. It's a very big city, and I'd never lived that urban lifestyle before. It was totally different from my own experience, and I had to leave my husband behind off and on for two years. He was really supportive, but it was strange living by myself. Kind of like college again. I love New York and now feel like it's kind of my city, too. But it's also hard to beat the Pacific Northwest. I live on water, and this week, through my window, I watched a Bald Eagle and an osprey, on two separate occasions, dive down like a torpedo into the water to catch a fish. I mean, wow.
BRC: What can we look forward to seeing from each of you, both individually and as a team?
LJ: We're working on the next Colony novel, with the working title SOMETHING WICKED, though that hasn't been formally approved yet. We are also teaming up with another friend, Rosalind Noonan, for a western/romantic suspense thriller set in Wyoming. It's kind of a Lonesome Dove meets Jack the Ripper...should be a lot of fun. It's untitled as yet, but has been approved, and once we write it, we'll have more information on our websites:www.lisajackson.com and www.nancybush.net, as well as through Kensington Publishing.
NB: And my next solo thriller, HUSH, is out in July, and Lisa's next solo thriller, BORN TO DIE, comes out in August. With the books we're writing together, and several more thrillers for both of us in the works, we're just putting our heads down and writing throughout the rest of this year and into 2012.
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