Hannah Mary McKinnon returns to The Spotlight this week to chat about her latest thriller
Author Name: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Book Title: Never Coming Home
Book Genre: Thriller, domestic suspense
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: MIRA (HarperCollins)
Welcome back, Hannah! Please tell us about NEVER COMING HOME.
Climb into the mind of a killer: Lucas hired a hitman on the dark web to get rid of his outrageously rich and equally annoying wife but a month after her disappearance a photograph with a cryptic note shows up on his doorstep. Somebody knows what he did, and now they’re coming for him…
What inspired the idea for NEVER COMING HOME?
Instead of a news article or a radio segment, which is typically where the inspiration for my books comes from, for Never Coming Home the character appeared first. I wanted to write about someone who was evil, despicable, but also relatable on some levels, and definitely funny—and whose enemies were even worse. Cue Lucas and Bobby Boyle. The story evolved from there, so it was very much character driven, and writing from the antagonist’s point of view was an entirely new experience. I had so much fun, and thoroughly enjoyed crafting another novel entirely from a man’s perspective.
While I probably shouldn’t admit to this, despite his many flaws, I enjoyed spending time with Lucas because I found him hilarious. I wrote the book during the second half of 2020, so this was very much a pandemic project. My lovely mum passed away that summer, so I needed a place to escape to when everything felt so bleak. I think that’s why this book is my funniest. I needed something to make me laugh.
How has your real life (day job, hobbies, etc.) informed NEVER COMING HOME?
Not at all, fortunately, considering it’s about hiring a hitman to get rid of your spouse and stay a few steps ahead of the cops. I had to do a lot of research, LOL.
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, seven books in, I feel more in control. I’ve learned to trust my writing process. 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.
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’s challenging? Pushing through that first draft.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Read as much and often as you can and listen to audio books. I wrote an article about how the latter make you a better author here. Write, even if you think it’s rubbish, because an empty page is impossible to edit. Another tip someone once suggested was to skip ahead if I couldn’t get a grasp on a chapter or scene, that I should focus on another part of the manuscript and trust myself enough to backfill later. It was revolutionary to me, and it beats the heck out of staring at a blank page or shoving my hand in the cookie jar. Also, I was advised to read my manuscript out loud. Every. Single. Word. Doing so helps avoid repetition, improves cadence, and zaps stilted dialogue. And, finally, share your work. It can be scary, but it’s the only way you’ll get feedback and improve your craft. Speaking of feedback: try not to take it personally. It’s unlikely lip service will get you where you want to be.
What’s capturing your imagination these days outside of reading and writing?
I love getting outdoors for a hike, I’m a huge fan of the movies (I love the trailers!), I have a home gym with a water rower that’s a great workout and incredibly peaceful. We have three teenage boys, so my husband and I spend time with them as often as they’ll let us. Watching films or playing board or card games as a family are some of my favourite things to do. There’s something deeply comforting about us having a laugh together and hanging out. Oh, I cook too, and love to bake. I make a mean lemon cheesecake, and yummy wholewheat bread.
What are you working on now?
Book 7 (slated for spring 2023) is another psychological thriller. It’s about a woman named Frankie who has some anger issues, and writes a list of people she could work to forgive as a therapy exercise. She thinks nothing of it when she loses her list in an Uber, until one by one the individuals become victims of freak accidents. Frankie desperately tries to determine if the tragedies are indeed accidental, and if not, who’s behind them before someone else gets hurt, especially as one of the names on the list is her own… I’m so excited for this next novel and can’t wait for you to meet Frankie and the rest of my cast.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)?
Contact in bio: https://HannahMaryMcKinnon.contactin.bio
Thank you, Hannah! NEVER COMING HOME is available for pre-order.
First comes love. Then comes murder.
Lucas Forester didn’t hate his wife. Michelle was brilliant, sophisticated, and beautiful. Sure, she had extravagant spending habits and that petty attitude, a total disregard for anyone below her status. But she also had a lot to offer. Most notably, wealth that only the one percent could comprehend.
For years, Lucas has been honing a flawless plan to inherit Michelle’s fortune. Unfortunately, it involves taking a hit out on her.
Every track is covered, no trace left behind, and now Lucas plays the grieving husband so well he deserves an award. But when a shocking photo and cryptic note show up on his doorstep, Lucas goes from hunter to prey.
Someone is on to him. And they’re closing in.
Told with dark wit and a sharply feminist sensibility, Never Coming Home is a terrifying tale of duplicity that will have you side-eyeing your spouse as you dash to the breathtaking end.
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, and bestsellers HER SECRET SON, SISTER DEAR, YOU WILL REMEMBER ME, and NEVER COMING HOME. Hannah Mary lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons. Connect on Facebook and Instagram @hannahmarymckinnon, and on Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon. For more, visit www.hannahmarymckinnon.com.