Big welcome to Hanna Mary McKinnon to the Spotlight this week–her latest thriller launches TODAY
Author Name: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Book Title: You Will Remember Me
Book Genre: Thriller
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: MIRA Books
Thanks for joining us today! How would you describe You Will Remember Me?
A twisty tale where the fates of three people intertwine: a man who wakes up on a beach but doesn’t know who or where he is. Lily, who’s searching for her boyfriend, Jack, who went missing after going for a swim, and Maya, who’s also looking for someone–her stepbrother, Ash, who abandoned her and his entire life two years prior. But is the man from the beach Jack, Ash, neither…or both?
What drew you to the idea for You Will Remember Me and how close is the end product to that seed of an idea?
A few years ago, a man from Toronto vanished from a ski hill in Lake Placid while there on vacation and showed up six days later in Sacramento. He had amnesia and couldn’t remember much, including the cross-country trip he’d made as he’d hitchhiked across the US. Everything worked out for the man in the end and he found his way home, but it made me wonder—what could have gone wrong? That story was the genesis for You Will Remember Me. The novel is quite close to the original idea I developed, minus a few stumbling blocks my brilliant editor Emily helped me get rid of.
How has your real life (day job, hobbies, etc.) informed You Will Remember Me?
Not at all, fortunately, considering I write thrillers. I do sprinkle little details here and there, which my family would recognize: names of places, a hobby, maybe the name of a stuffed toy or something but otherwise I pull very little from my life. My job is to make things up and it’s a part of the process I thoroughly enjoy. Creating different settings, people, and circumstances is fun!
In what ways do you think you’ve evolved as an author since your first book came out [or over the course of your career so far]?
My novels have definitely become darker–in that sense I’m taking more risks because I’m more confident in my ability to pull it off. With each book my process has also become more streamlined, and, six books in, I feel more in control. Having said that, self-doubt always, always creeps in, particularly when I’m writing my first “skeleton draft,” which is a first, very loose version nobody will ever see. However, I’ve learned to trust my writing process. If I can get the bones of the story on paper, I’ll add layers and complexity as I go over the novel again and again in preparation for my editor’s eyes. I accept the finer details will come as I work through the story. I’ll figure out plot-holes if I allow myself time to work through them. Just like most people who draw, paint, or write music or books, the first draft will never be my best work. I’m glad I’ve accepted that because it stops me from being overly self-critical when I start a project. I also set myself deadlines, and work hard to beat them.
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
I love the camaraderie of the writing community, it’s like nothing I’ve experienced elsewhere. Authors, readers, agents, publishers—we all love books and it’s truly wonderful. In terms of writing, I love the initial anticipation of starting a new book where everything is open and the only limit is my imagination. I also adore when I get to the editing part and think, “Yeah, I believe I’ve got something here” — that’s always such a rush.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Getting outdoors for a walk or a hike (with an audiobook if I’m alone, I LOVE audiobooks), I’m a huge fan of the movies (I love the trailers!), in non-Covid times I go to the gym and participate in a few obstacle runs in the summer (I live for the mud and obstacles, I’m rubbish at the running part). We have three teenage boys, so my husband and I spend time with them as often as they’ll let us. Watching films as a family is one of my favourite things. There’s something deeply comforting about us having a laugh together and just hanging out. Oh, I cook too, and love to bake. I make a mean zucchini-lime loaf, and Mark Bittmann’s No Knead Bread, which is delicious.
How are you adjusting to promoting a book during a pandemic?
I never have to ask, “Does my bum look big in this?” – which is brilliant! In all seriousness, I flipped events online very quickly and I’ve had a blast ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I miss in-person events and can’t wait until we can have them safely again, but the reach with online is so broad, it can’t be underestimated. I adore meeting and chatting with readers and other authors virtually—people who I wouldn’t otherwise get to see. There are no geographical restrictions, either. My mother was disabled and being able to offer events to people with physical limitations, and who can’t get to an in-person event is so important. Once things return to normal, I do hope we keep the online component.
Another great thing that came out of the pandemic for me is First Chapter Fun. Back in March 2020, when Covid first hit Canada, a group of us were discussing how we could help promote one another and give our books a boost. I half-jokingly offered to read the first chapter of their novels on Facebook and Instagram, and within a few days I had over 40 daily readings lined up and launched First Chapter Fun. I read for 53 days in a row (didn’t think the “must do hair and make-up” thing through very well), introducing viewers to a new novel and author each day.
In May 2020, I teamed up with my partner-in-fictional-crime, powerhouse author Hank Phillippi Ryan. We created a new Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/firstchapterfun and Instagram account www.instagram.com/firstchapterfun. We read twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday (the days with a “T) on both platforms simultaneously at 12.30 pm ET, and already have readings scheduled until the end of 2021. All the previously aired episodes are saved and can be viewed at leisure.
The one thing that surprised me the most about this industry is how genuine, welcoming, and helpful other authors are. This project is my way of paying it forward to them.
What are you working on now?
My 6th book is done and in my wonderful editor’s hands. It’s written from the anti-hero’s point-of-view, which I’ve never done before, and is the story of Lucas, who hired a hitman to kill his wife. A month later, Lucas receives a partial photograph of his wife in the mail. Who sent it? What do they know? And, more importantly, what do they want? I can’t wait to introduce you to my characters! In the meantime, I’m plotting and outlining Book 7, but it’s too early to give anything away.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live events (like your First Chapter Fun series), too!
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HannahMaryMcKinnon (@hannahmarymckinnon)
Instagram: www.instagram.com/HannahMaryMcKinnon/ (@hannahmarymckinnon)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/HannahMMcKinnon (@hannahmmckinnon)
Thank you, Mary! You Will Remember Me is out NOW.
Forget the truth. Remember the lies.
He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland, wearing only swim trunks and a gash on his head. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth raises more questions than answers.
Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.
Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?
Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.
Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. While her debut, TIME AFTER TIME, was a rom com, she transitioned to the dark side thereafter. Her suspense novels include THE NEIGHBORS, bestsellers HER SECRET SON and SISTER DEAR, and her latest, YOU WILL REMEMBER ME. Hannah Mary lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons.