The Thriller Zone

I’m your host David Temple and welcome to Your Front Row Seat to The Best Thriller Writers in the World! On today’s 174th episode of The Thriller Zone Podcast, we welcome #1 New York Times Bestselling Author LISA GARDNER where, among other things, she’s discuss her illustrious career as a thriller writer, and the inspiration behind her book 'Still See You Everywhere.' 

Lisa will share her evolution from writing romantic suspense to full-on thrillers plus the vital importance of character-driven storytelling. 

Concerning her next soon-to-be-hit novel, Gardner shares insights into her protagonist, Frankie Elkin, and the challenges she faces as a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. 

She also discusses her writing style, the power of show don't tell, and her super-inside secret for triggering creativity. Gardner also takes a serious moment to reflect on her goal of entertaining readers while raising awareness about missing persons.

There’s so much to enjoy, and equally as much to learn from a prolific thriller author whose latest thriller is sure to please. 

To learn more visit: LisaGardner.com

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Takeaways

Character-driven storytelling is a key aspect of Lisa Gardner's writing style.
Frankie Elkin, the protagonist of 'Still See You Everywhere,' is a relatable and vulnerable character.
Taking time off and getting outside of one's comfort zone can lead to new inspiration and creativity.
Using scent as a trigger can help writers get into the right mindset for writing.
Hollywood adaptations of books require letting go and allowing the director's vision to take over.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Setting
01:20 Transition to Lisa Gardner's Career
03:56 Characterization of Frankie Elkin
05:35 Frankie Elkin's Humanity, Vulnerability and Motivation
07:12 Frankie Elkin's Battle with Alcoholism
08:20 Comparison to Jack Reacher
09:39 Frankie Elkin's Disconnection from Conventional Life
10:05 Lisa Gardner's Sabbatical and Inspiration for the Book
11:33 The Power of Taking Time Off
12:44 Writing Style and Show, Don't Tell
15:25 Description of 'Still See You Everywhere'
20:44 Lisa Gardner's Writing Craftsmanship
23:09 Lisa Gardner's Confidence in Writing
25:12 Lisa Gardner's Strength in Characterization
26:22 Lisa Gardner's Struggle with Description
27:42 Lisa Gardner's Experience with Hollywood Adaptations
31:13 Entertainment and Raising Awareness
32:19 Writing Advice: Using Scent as a Trigger
34:15 Lisa Gardner's Approach to Hollywood Adaptations
35:01 Conclusion

The Thriller Zone with David Temple is sponsored in part by Blackstone Publishing.

What is The Thriller Zone?

Join podcast host and thriller author David Temple as he gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

DAVID:

Hello, and welcome to the thriller zone. I'm your host, David Temple. On today's 174th episode of the thriller zone podcast, we welcome number 1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, where among other things, she'll discuss her illustrious career as a thriller writer and the inspiration behind her new book, Still See You Everywhere. As you very well know, this is your front row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. So without any further ado, let's sit down and talk with Lisa right here on the thriller zone.

LISA:

I have a cold, unfortunately, but I'm armed here with tea, and we can we can make this happen.

DAVID:

Excellent. Well, welcome to the thriller zone.

LISA:

Thank you.

DAVID:

I am on location in, hot, sticky, humid Miami. Oh. Yeah. So I'm not in my standard, studio where I've got my big double monitors and all the lights and camera and action. So I'm I'm just hoping you can see and hear, perfectly.

LISA:

How's spring break going there? Are they trying to corral it now?

DAVID:

We were talking about this over dinner last night that they're really trying to discourage it because it's gotten completely out of hand.

LISA:

Yes.

DAVID:

You remember back in the day when spring break meant, you were staying out past curfew or you maybe got caught having a 6 pack, and now people are shooting each other?

LISA:

Yeah. It's it sounds like I mean, there's just too many people down there too. Like, it's just out of control. Yeah. I mean, that's just too much that's too big of a scene right there.

DAVID:

Too many people. Yeah. Not not the best recipe. Well, we're going to get to this fabulous book, Still See You Everywhere, which was a heck of a read. We're gonna get to that.

DAVID:

But I want to, I wanna back up a little bit because, first of all, I have watched your career from afar. I've seen you on stage at conventions. I've certainly followed your career as far as books and so forth. But I'm, really honored to have you on the podcast because I've been wanting to have you on for quite some time, and the planets have aligned. So thank you.

LISA:

Yeah. I'm excited to hear.

DAVID:

I wanna ask you this because this is interesting. I did not know this. Probably a lot of my listeners will know this, that you started out writing romance suspense, which Yeah. In in one sense, as I was thinking about it, in one sense, it's not terribly different than thrillers because a lot of thrillers have an element of romance in it. But can you just so I have a better idea it's kind of a 2 part question.

DAVID:

First of all, I'd like to know why you decided to leave romance, which may or may not be an obvious question. And how do you compare writing romance suspense to classic full on thriller writing like this one?

LISA:

So back in the 19 nineties, there's actually a whole bunch of us that did this, basically, this exact same career path from Tess Garretson to Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Ios Johansson. We had all started out writing what we call back then, like, genre romantic suspense. The issue when you start out writing romantic suspense or the advantage of it is the character is the most important plot. So it's like you think of it as spectrum and a romantic suspense, the character's first. The plot is secondary.

LISA:

It's actually good training, and I still to this day am a character driven writer. But I think there's this evolution. As you get more and more comfortable writing and you have more complicated ideas that you start coming up with some plots now that they don't fall within that convention. So what a bunch of us really did is we end up making the leap to mainstream thrillers, and most of us encountered, you know, pretty great success. And I think it's because we could take that thriller formula of the great plot twists and the exciting endings, but we really populated those books with the kind of characters that drew you in and that were compelling and felt like people you knew.

LISA:

And because that's somewhat like our background in training. That's kind of the camp we come from.

DAVID:

That makes so much sense because you're right. We all fall in love with the characters first, and we think about the plot second. And as I was reading this book, I thought, now that you're saying that it makes so much sense because I'm falling instantly falling in love with your protagonist, Frankie. And I'm like, she's so, bigger than life, and yet she's what what's interesting, and I I wanna try to stay on topic, is that she is, she's broken. She's chipped.

DAVID:

She's marred at the edges, but she's this heroin that you just go, oh, I want her on in my corner.

LISA:

Frankie's very human, and it makes her really compelling. I mean, I've been at this a long time now. I mean, 30 years. And when I first started out on the thrillers, it was, you know, the standard FBI profiler then, you know, the detective, Dede Warren, in Boston, and those were all great characters too. But I think the appeal of Frankie for me is she's not any of those things.

LISA:

She's not badass. She's not kickass. I mean, she's she's just us, and it's that humanity that makes her very vulnerable, but it also makes her really effective. At the end of the day, people find themselves talking to her and telling her things that they probably wouldn't have shared with the police or authority or other outsiders. But, again, that humanity for Frankie is always a double edged sword.

LISA:

She does take the hits. She feels the blow. She she can't just compartmentalize them all all off again. It's not Yeah. She's not truly a professional.

LISA:

You know? Well

DAVID:

and you know what? What's so interesting, Lisa? That's why I found myself drawn to her because I I automatically and I I hope this is not, it's not giving too much away, and it's it's not a negative at all. But I was like, oh, it's kinda cool that she's not a detective or a PI or this or that. She is, as you said, just one of us going through life.

DAVID:

And what was interesting, I'm like, she's doing this for the love of the game because she wants to help people. And I kept going, what? How does she get paid? I mean, how does this business model work?

LISA:

Yeah. So Frankie was actually modeled off of someone I read about in real life.

DAVID:

Okay.

LISA:

A person, Lisa Yellowbird Chase, who was frustrated by the number of women that were going missing on tribal lands that no one was even looking for. And you're right. I mean, the central question becomes, why would you do something like this? Devote your entire life to helping people you've never even met and have no home, no job, no anchor. I mean, I can't speak for the real life person.

LISA:

In Frankie's case, I think it's what's made her fun to write in that. I don't know that we have the answer to that question yet. I don't know that she knows the answer to that question. One of the driving factors for her working these missing persons cold cases is she's an alcoholic. And when she immerses herself and other people's problems and has a very goal oriented agenda, it keeps her from drinking.

LISA:

She just sits around and thinks about herself, you know, to the bar she goes. Right? So but, you know, is she just a dry drunk then, or is there more to this? I mean, I think she's still trying to figure that out.

DAVID:

Yeah. There's a line in there, and I I'm I'm gonna massacre her, so forgive me in advance. But she's someone is asking her as she's going undercover to work in this bar. Well, you're you're an alcoholic and you're gonna work in a bar. Won't won't that be a temptation for you?

DAVID:

And she said something to the effect of, no. Breathing is the temptation for me.

LISA:

And it's interesting because for some alcoholics, they can't be around it. And I have other friends on stuff who they can. They're like, in in almost more sadly, yeah. I mean, the temptation is everywhere, so it doesn't really matter. Yeah.

LISA:

It's like waking up in the morning. That's my temptation.

DAVID:

So And, again, you know, it's funny. I when I was reading her, I thought and and I hope this is a good comparison because he's become one of my favorite and many of my listeners' favorite characters, is there's a little Jack Reacher, this lone survivor out there just just going through life? Can I just get my toothbrush or my jacket on my back and go through life? And then they fall into this situation where they can help someone. And I thought, what a cool idea.

DAVID:

It's like and, again, this is she is completely her own, so I'm not saying but it it feels like a a little bit of a female Jack Reacher.

LISA:

And I always appreciate that, comparison because I'm a hugely child fan. I mean, one of the things Lee Child said about Reacher early on as a character, and I think it speaks to Frankie, is that, you know, in the beginning of civilization, there were people who sat around the campfire and there were people who had to get up and go. Reacher is one of the ones has to get up and go. Well, you know, a lot of those pioneers headwives, you know, Frankie's one that had to get up and go as well. It's just that they don't do well-being settled.

LISA:

And one of the things I think is compelling about Frankie is we're so socialized these days. I mean, the planet has 8,000,000,000 people and we're surrounded by images. This is what life is supposed to look like. This is the kind of job you should have, the car you should drive, the life you should lead. And for Frankie, none of that resonates for her.

LISA:

So she's already constantly feeling like an outsider because all the things she's being told she should want, she doesn't. Those are actually all the things that start making her dress and want to drink. So, again, they're they're, you know, kind of those lone wolf personalities. Though, I mean, Frankie's social in her own way, but she's just not meant to stay in one place. She's not meant for the conventional life.

LISA:

That's just never gonna be her.

DAVID:

Yeah. Well, I love it. I wanna read check this out, folks. I wanna read something that's on the, inside of the jacket, and it says, this if this doesn't get your attention, I'm really not sure what will. A dozen strangers, countless dangerous secrets, 0 means of calling for help, and then the storm rolls in.

DAVID:

And it does. The prologue begins with what I feel like is kind of a, it's a journal of sorts, and then it launches into chapter 1 with this opening line that grabs you by the throat and says, okay. You ready for a ride? Because we are. And I want to as we talk about this protagonist that you so deathly created, so she came from a real person.

DAVID:

Do you and and and this is slightly cliche because I we're all as writers, we're all doing a little bit of therapy, Aubrey Lisa.

LISA:

Yes.

DAVID:

But are there little fragments of you or either the broken pieces? Or are there pieces you're like, man, I want to be that brave soul that does something just for the good of it.

LISA:

You know, it's funny when I was writing detective Didi Warren people like so is that you? And I'm like, oh, dear god. No. That's like my alter ego. That's the woman who can do everything and say everything I would never say.

LISA:

But Frankie is probably the of any character I've written the closest to me and that she's an everyday average person. She doesn't have any superpowers. She's smart. She's adaptable, and she likes to travel. And I have to admit, I love to travel.

LISA:

One of the big inspirations behind still see you everywhere is I had the opportunity to go to remote atoll in the Pacific where there were 12 strangers. And, yes, there was a storm that rolled in and our plane did not make it to take us back out, And that was also the plane with the food. So it was a little concerning at the time.

DAVID:

Did you take off was it 22 or 23? You took off an entire year, just kinda got off the writing grid and said this is all for me?

LISA:

Yes. In 2022, I think it was. Yeah. I took a a sabbatical. It'd been 30 years of and of deadlines, and I wanted and it was so funny because my agent and my editor said, you're so institutionalized.

LISA:

You'll totally have a book by the end of this. They're like, I will not. I'm gonna go on vacation. You cannot make me write a book. And, yeah, sure enough, you know, my my first trip was Antarctica.

LISA:

The second one was Palmyra, which is on the equator in this rainforest environment Frankie's talking about. And, yeah, it's remote. It's barren. And when we arrive, they're like you know, they really prefer it if you don't have an appendix because medical evac's gonna be 3 to 5 days away. There's all sorts of rules governing behavior because little things become big things very quickly.

LISA:

And as a thriller writer, I'm sitting there and I'm, you know, soaked through because it's so damp humid. It's just ungodly humid. And we all liked each other till about day 2, and then we all hated each other because we hadn't because it was so damn humid. And I was like, oh my god. This is the perfect locked room mystery because there's no way on.

LISA:

There's no way off. Like, things go bad here. I called it my other term I use is the summer camp version of The Shining. You're there.

DAVID:

That's so good.

LISA:

It took a sabbatical, and, yeah, I kinda came up with the novel. It it might be right. I might be institutionalized at this point.

DAVID:

It's funny, Lisa, because you have done something that I think we don't do enough of. And I'm when I say the collective we, it can be us authors. It can be it can be any walk of life you're in. But I think we especially the onslaught of media and social media always slamming against our brains, I go, we need more time to just be and to just chill and allow quiet to roll in. Don't you agree?

LISA:

Yeah. You know, palm several of my trips I did was were off the grid. Palmyra was the most off the grid. And it's funny because compared to some of my peer group, I not even the biggest cell phone addict, and I got twitchy. You just to not know what's going on, to not have communication with the outside world and day after day after day.

LISA:

Yeah. It it was in. We all got twitchy.

DAVID:

Twitchy is a good word. You know, let's assume something. Let's assume that someone is tuning in and meeting you for the first time. How would you describe still see you everywhere? And I mean it on its well, there's a part of me that wants the elevator Pete pitch, but there's a part of me that wants to know how would you describe this story in and of itself.

LISA:

So Frankie Elkin is an everyday average person. She's obsessed with finding missing persons the world has forgotten. In this particular case, which is her weirdest one, to be sure, she is summoned to a maximum security prison by a serial killer who's going to death, executed. And we're not unrepentant, doesn't care yet. Nope.

LISA:

She totally killed them all and was a great deal of fun to speak of it. You can learn about the care feeding of pigs also in this novel. And but her sister baby sister was kidnapped 15 years ago. She just got evidence she might still be alive, and he just wants someone to find her sister and to know she's safe before she goes to her death. And Frankie doesn't really care much for the beautiful butcher, but the opportunity to try to bring a young girl home from Hawaii that might have been human trafficked, seems to have been kidnapped by a wealthy billionaire is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

LISA:

And that brings her to remote atoll, and then, yeah, no means of rescue, no hope of escape, and, bad things happen from there. Murder and mayhem ensue. Isn't that all that's all that Murder and mayhem ensue. Yeah.

DAVID:

We'll be right back. Stay with us. And now, back to the show. Here's something I it it forced me to think, and there are not a lot of stories that you read on any daily basis about a female serial killer. I know there have been some.

DAVID:

There have been some famous ones. I think of the one that was, enacted by, Charlize Theron back Oh, yeah. Several years back.

LISA:

Yeah. But

DAVID:

it is monster. It's not really that common, which is why as I'm reading it, I'm like, wow. It was so and I hate to use I'm gonna sound like I'm glorifying butchery and murder, but it's the way that there's this confidence. She's beautiful. She's confident.

DAVID:

She's like, yeah, whatever. I did it because they had it coming to him, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I want to drill down for just a second about that theory of not a lot of female serial killers.

LISA:

You know, when I first started out, I was writing FBI profiler books, and one of the things I loved about them was the psychology of crime. And early on, someone, a profile explained to me, you see many more male serial killers than female because men historically externalize their pain and their rage. They will lash out. They will create a proxy or surrogate victim for you know, to target with their emotions. Women have a tendency to internalize it.

LISA:

So the cycle of violence for women will lead more to alcoholism, suicide, eating disorders, those kinds of things. Interestingly enough well and then the serial female serial killers we've seen then have been externally motivated, like, for money. So it's not been that same psychology at all. It's just it's like arsenic in an old place. But it's been fun to read now as we are, you know, equalizing gender roles and as we are telling women it's more comfortable with to have all of these emotions, we are seeing an uptick in violent women.

LISA:

So see equality at work. You know, here. And when I did a book a few years ago, people like the police I was interviewing at time, like, oh my god, the female gangbangers are the worst. I I mean, they're 20 times more violent and more likely to take take a small offense and, you know, blast away at it. And I was like, interesting.

LISA:

Okay. This is kinda fun. But yes.

DAVID:

Do you find your and and I'm gonna drill on your your psyche now. Do you find yourself as you were creating this character, do you find yourself going, yeah. I mean, the fantasy is, yeah, you know, that person really pissed me off. I'd like to get back at him even in a tiniest little way.

LISA:

You know, what I saw in the beautiful butcher was her pain, Just like this deep, deep, dark well of despair that she didn't know how to deal with and she was wired for violence because of their own abusive father. And so that's what she fell back on was her wiring. And I think when you emphasize the pain, it makes her a little bit more relatable as a a person. You don't necessarily think, well, no, that, you know, murdering 18 men was a good thing, but, you know, she really did have it rough. It was a tough life.

LISA:

You know?

DAVID:

And I and I have to say this, and and and I hope she doesn't. I'm visiting, my wife and I are visiting, her parents. So my mother-in-law and my wife and I are sitting around this morning having breakfast. And, I had just described this book. My wife asked Tammy, said, how are you liking the book?

DAVID:

I'm like, I'm loving it. You can tell this woman can flat out write. I'm like, oh my god. And she's like, well, tell me what it is. And I explained the whole thing, like, from the in a very capsulized form.

DAVID:

Then my mother-in-law walks up, and Tammy says, well, you you gotta tell mom what this book is about. And I describe, you know, these 2 gals, bad situation, violent father, alcohol, etcetera. And my mother-in-law turns to me and says, oh, is that my autobiography?

LISA:

Oh my gosh. Poor thing.

DAVID:

Sad sad but true. But Yeah. It's it's always interesting to see when people come to a story, they go, oh, there's there's a whole lot of me in that. Yeah. So going to that opening flashback and which was horrifying, there's a certain style about your work that I really like, and I and I'll admit that I'm new to the party.

DAVID:

But if someone were to ask me, David, what do you like about Lisa's style? I'm like, you know, it's it's elevated in that it's it's rapid fire, but not rushed, which I love the beginning of it. It's just like, there's no time to catch your breath. It's in-depth without getting lost in the weeds. But my favorite part is how you weave this, what I'm gonna call inside of your head voice, in with the dialogue.

DAVID:

Such craftsmanship.

LISA:

I consider most of my books kind of a deep narrative drive. Like, I want you in the mind of the character. I don't like telling. I'd like to show you what's going on and let you figure it out for yourself. And I'd like you to feel what the characters are feeling.

LISA:

It's a very intimate relationship with the character.

DAVID:

Well and you're do we you just said it right there. What's the one thing you learn in any kind of a writing class? Show, don't tell.

LISA:

Yeah.

DAVID:

And I'm trying to think when I very first heard that, I I had and and do me a favor, Lisa. I had the hardest time understanding the difference. Well, what do you mean?

LISA:

Well, if

DAVID:

well, I'm I'm I am showing you. I'm not telling you.

LISA:

If

DAVID:

you were to describe this to a classroom right now, how would you best describe that technique?

LISA:

You need to trust the reader. You need to set a scene and then don't explain what just happened. Just set the scene, let the scene unfold, and trust that the reader's gonna walk away with what they needed to know. And you can use actually, one of my favorite examples when I do workshops for show, not tell is way back in the day, again, FBI profile research. They talked about there's an FBI agent who grew up really, really super poor.

LISA:

Like, so poor, he never got to eat candy, but he and his brother would sometimes, you know, eat fine candy wrappers and and and chew on them, you know, because for the sugar that was still in it. And then, you know, fast forward decades later, he's now really successful, and what he's discovered is can't eat candy. He still prefers the wrapper. I mean, that kinda just little detail that tells you so with wrongly just where he comes from and the way that we can't escape our past, the way it shapes us irrevocably. So those little little things like that to me that show don't tell.

LISA:

You can say, oh, he was poor once and he's successful now, but it still haunts him. That's telling you. Or you can talk about, you know, a guy chewing on a Snickers wrapper.

DAVID:

That is so good, and that's so powerful. So thank you for that. I as I was wrapping the book and, folks, it has one of these, crescendo conclusions that, it's gonna it's gonna haunt me for a while, and I'm okay with that. I'm okay with the haunting. But I I caught myself asking, and I said, be be sure and I made a note.

DAVID:

Be sure to ask Lisa Lisa this. How many books had you written until you said, hey. I'm really good at this.

LISA:

I don't think any author ever thinks that or says that. It feels like, oh, like, we're banging ahead against a wall each and every time. I mean, I think one of the biggest things I had to come to terms with as a novelist is that it doesn't get easy, and it's not supposed to get easy. Each book has its own world, and you're starting from scratch creating it. And creation's never easy, but I really look kept thinking there should be a day where it's like, oh, I just sit down when I rip out a novel because I am so good at this.

LISA:

And no, really, if that day ever happens, though, I'm gonna call you first date. Okay.

DAVID:

And I think you know what? I think it is. It's, and I and I'm starting to hear this. We're we're coming up on 3 years with this podcast now, so approaching 200 episodes. And I am thank you.

DAVID:

Thank you. I'm always surprised at how many times authors say the same thing you just said. Oh, I I feel like a phony. I'm afraid somebody's gonna find me out. Oh, you gotta be kidding me.

DAVID:

I I'd never feel good at this, which is a surprise. However, let's let's drill down one tiny little extra level. There has to be something. And, and on a confidence level that you can say, you know, Lisa, golly, darn it. I'm I'm good at this because I I'm just curious to know what what's the part of your craftsmanship and your talent, which is immense, 30 plus, that says that you know?

DAVID:

Well, this right here, I'm really particularly good at. And I think what I'm trying to get at is what are you most proud of where you you really feel the most confident?

LISA:

You know, character for me is remains to this day organic. I can see them. I can picture them. I can hear them in my head. People want me to do characterization workshops because I'm known for my characters, and I'm like, I don't it's just organic for me.

LISA:

The plot I work on, the research I work on. I love dialogue because to me, that's just picturing multiple characters in my head having a conversation. So those scenes for me and action scenes go really fast. I really struggle with description. I think I'm not terribly a visual person myself.

LISA:

So it's funny. I mean, I can blaze through all this, you know, death and destruction and action sequences, and then you don't have to describe the table cloth and say, god, damn it. We're gonna be here a bit. I figured this out.

DAVID:

It is true, though. Your dialogue is is it it I remember back in the day when we would read a book and the description could go on for paragraphs, even pages. And I'm like, come on. Talk to get the people talking. And nowadays, the guys that guys and gals like yourself who really have mastered that, I find myself going, you I can't get enough dialogue because it it just it feels like I'm sitting there watching a movie or, oh, or eavesdropping on a conversation, especially when you have that, again, that little, inside your head voice mixed in with the dialogue.

LISA:

No. It was the real challenge for still see you everywhere because the I told that was the inspiration for the book. In the book, we could call it, but in the real world, it's Palmyra. It it's such a surreal separate universe. I mean, it's this so so remote.

LISA:

The, you know, heat and humidity are unreal. The wildlife that's there and and crabs, they they said they'd be crabs but I had no idea like, oh god, there were crabs. There were so many crabs and so kinds of crabs and the crabs were the food chain and some of the crabs were cannibals to other crabs and in the middle of the night that place was hopping in in a really terrifying way. And those are things I want to describe for the reader and and yet that is my weakness. So sometimes it took me, like like, 5 pages to figure out these were the 5 sentences for Frankie to set the scene for you so that you could see where you were because what an extraordinary place, but also kind of terrifying as well and uncomfortable.

LISA:

If people are used to civilization, those kinds of conditions, you know, no plumbing, no electricity, those kinds of stuff. That's it's rustic.

DAVID:

Yeah. Getting outside the comfort zone gives you a an elevated experience than yeah. You know, having come from a background in radio and TV and film, I have to ask, how has your experience been with working with Hollywood? Because so much of your work has been adapted, especially as it comes to that adaptation of the books. How how do you like that arena of Hollywood?

DAVID:

How do you like being around it, playing in it? Has it been a friend of yours?

LISA:

I've had 4 things adapted, and it's been very bizarre. Like, one, I would say not very good, one, I would say very good, and 2, kinda in between. I think as a novelist, you know, if people wanna know your work, they should read the book. But the minute you sell it to Hollywood, it becomes a director's vision, you know, and your character becomes an actor's vision. So you just have to let go.

LISA:

You have to let them do their job now and kind of just enjoy the ride. I mean, think of your work more as the inspiration behind what came next versus a direct representation for what will be coming next.

DAVID:

I think, Mark Graney has been I think he, yeah, he just had his 4th appearance on the show. I can't believe in 3 years.

LISA:

Such a good guy.

DAVID:

There's there's just few nicer, and he put it best. We were talking about, Mark, how does it feel to have your book and then you see it on screen? He goes, you know what? It's cool. It's definitely cool to hear the words, come out of an actor's mouth.

DAVID:

He goes, but I I got used to and I love this. He said, early on, I had to know that and you just kinda referred to this. I created what I created, and it was exactly what I wanted to create. So that when I handed it off or sold it, in this case, sold it, I had to be okay with the fact that someone else is going to take it and make it their own. And he goes, the minute I said, that's fine with me, I was good with it.

DAVID:

And I think that's such a healthy way to look at it.

LISA:

Yeah. If you want direct control, you know, you're gonna have to keep it to yourself or wait till you're so big you can but I don't know. I also think I'm really good at writing, but I I don't know how to do screenplay. I don't know how to shoot film. I'm again, I'm not that visual.

LISA:

So, you know, let the those experts do their thing. It is fun. Carla Gugino played detective Didi Warren, and she's a really renowned character actress. And meeting with her, getting to see her interpretation of Didi was really fun. Because to me, she caught the spirit of the character really nicely, kind of Didi's edginess and, you know, kind of almost raw workaholic spirit and semi feral behavior.

LISA:

So it was a lot of fun to watch her at work. And, I mean, and that was pretty wild.

DAVID:

And and give me that because I wanna go back and watch this because I she's such a

LISA:

fan of the show. It was yeah. The movie adaption of hide. It was on TNT a few years ago. They did a bunch of books.

LISA:

I'm, like, staring at the movie poster now because that will clearly help you.

DAVID:

Awesome. As well as we begin begin to wrap because I know you you got a huge I mean, you're right in the middle of the thick of, your marketing, and advertising and tour and so forth. I've got just a couple of quick things. The first is, what do you hope that readers will take away from this thriller? And not only just take away from this particular book, but take away from you and this experience.

LISA:

Oh, I mean, my goal is always to entertain. So I want people to, you know, stay up way too late, not feed their kids, miss their bus stop, you know, nice you know, very nice goals like that. Frankie's mission is real, and there are real Frankies out there. We have 100 of 1000 of missing people at any given time. So many of them are kids, and a handful gain national attention.

LISA:

And I do think it's, you know, these so many of these people, they weren't seen in life, and they're not seen after they're gone. I think that's just a horrible injustice, especially for us, not even as a country, but as neighbors, as as people. We should we should see each other.

DAVID:

That's so good. And that is, well, still see you everywhere. My final question, and it's something I close all my shows with. It's a standard closer. What's your best writing advice?

DAVID:

Now this is gonna be especially to those who would like to make a career of this much like yourself. So if you had to sum it up then, what is that best writing advice?

LISA:

Oh, wait. So I'm I'll give you something tangible and a little goofy, but it actually does work. So it's particularly in the beginning of my career one because it took, you know, 10 years to become an overnight success. Like most aspiring writers out there, I wrote for a couple hours a day and I had I was in school for a bit. I had a real job for a bit.

LISA:

I had 2 jobs for a bit and was writing 2 hours a day. So you have kids. You have all these other things going on, and you're trying to snag this writing type. Half the battle is just how to switch gears, how to even focus and get to thinking about the book. And there was another romantic suspense author, Susan Brockman, that talked about, the power of scent.

LISA:

It's a major trigger. So every time you write, you have the same lit candle. We'll say vanilla. Then at a certain point in the process, the scent of vanilla will make you wanna write, and she's it is a genuine trigger. It is a conditioned response.

LISA:

We're going straight. So each book has had its own scented candle. But but do pick a scent you like because for it to work, you have to keep doing it. So yeah.

DAVID:

Oh my gosh. So it's almost Pavlovia.

LISA:

Yeah. That's it. That's the whole point. And, scent is one of the fastest ways of contri triggering a Pavlovian response. I think it was Michael Crichton, I wanna say, who had this whole thing where he ate the same lunch when he was writing a book because he didn't wanna ruin his creative process trying to think of what to eat for lunch.

LISA:

And, you know, it kind of almost became part of the book. So, you know, he identified each of his novels by the sandwich. So weirdly enough, these little these little ticks can be helpful because in the beginning, it's very difficult to carve out the time to do this and to get the mindset to do this, particularly with our cell phones buzzing and email flashing and all of that kind of stuff. But

DAVID:

Well, it is so refreshing to run across someone who has given me a piece of advice that I have never heard before.

LISA:

You know, it's it was so helpful. I loved it. It was like it was every now and then at conferences, I'm like, can we do something on creativity or how to, like, get in the mindset? Because these little things can make a big difference.

DAVID:

Well and you can be sure that I'll be using the hashtag scented candle when I go to publish this.

LISA:

There we go. Thank you. Thank you.

DAVID:

Well, folks, once again, the book is still see you everywhere. If you'd like to learn more, go to website lisagardner.com. Of course, all of her are on social media as I do. And, Lisa, once again, this has been a huge honor, and I hope to see you at one of the upcoming conventions. Thank you for this time.

LISA:

Thank you so much, David. It's been a pleasure. The thrillers on.