Saturday, March 2, 2019

Lisa Unger! Congratulations!




HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Oh, my gosh. Lisa Unger.  Do you know her? One of the most generous, genuine, and absolutely uniquely talented writers of contemporary suspense. Every single book is jaw-droppingly innovative. Thoughtful, complex, multi-layered and completely completely creepy. Good creepy, but shiver-inducing creepy.

And it’s so perplexing—in real life, she’s irresistible. She’s a great pal, and a friend and teacher to writers and the joy of her fans, but also a wonderful wife with a cool husband and an adorable daughter. And a beloved dog.

And yet, her books are…chilling.

And today, we are all giving her a standing ovation! Her new book UNDER MY SKIN is not only an Edgar nominee for best novel, which as you know is the complete grail, but has just been announced as a finalist for the Hammett Award from the International Association of Crime Writers. Plus! Her short story is ALSO an Edgar nominee! Let’s just say—this is a grand slam home run.

HANK: Whoo hoo! How did you come up with the idea for UNDER MY SKIN? Did you do any specific research for the book?

LISA UNGER:  First--I am thrilled and honored. This is incredible, and I am so grateful. But--the idea for a novel can come from anywhere. It might be a news story, a photograph, even, in one case, a piece of junk mail.  For UNDER MY SKIN, it was Carl Jung quote: “Between the dreams of day and night, there is not so great a difference.”

This thought kicked around in my head for a while and led to research into sleep, dreams, memory, addiction, and the slippery nature of our perception.  A great deal of research goes into all of my novels, and my study of certain subjects is ongoing. I have a continuing obsession with Carl Jung and his work. I have spent a number of years researching trauma, addiction and their impact on perception and behavior. These ideas run through much of my work.

HANK: I can tell!  So—another topic. If you have to pick one favorite character from all your books, who would it be and why?

LISA: I could never pick a favorite! They are all so different, so important to me. I have love and empathy for each of my characters, even the most deranged among them. There are a few characters that stay with me and show up again and again in novels. Retired private Detective Jones Cooper tends to show up in books where I didn’t expect him. Eloise Montgomery, the psychic, and her granddaughter Finley are often on my mind; I know their story is not yet finished. There is a novel in the works featuring all of those characters.

HANK: Oh--amazing. Cannot wait. Your books are so—seamless. Have you ever been stuck while writing one of your books? How did you get over it?

LISA: Writing, as with all organic process, ebbs and flows. Some days you can’t stop the pages from coming; sometimes you spend a lot of time staring at the screen or the blank page. If I’m stuck in my narrative, I exercise. I go to the gym, blast some music, and move – or I walk my dog, or do some laundry. This, more often than not, will help me get to the next place in the narrative. Sometimes you have to walk away in order to give your subconscious the space to work things out.

HANK: You are so much fun—and I will never forget our night of margaritas!  You seem to be so aware of the need to relax and get away from it all? What do you do when you aren’t writing?

LISA: I live in Florida, so my life with my family is very centered on the beach and the water.  Boating, kayaking, and swimming are favorite activities. We are passionate lovers of story – of course. So reading, theater, and film are big features of our life. I love to cook. I have a yoga practice. We also travel quite extensively, and love exploring the world together.

HANK: How did your writer brain grow? Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

LISA: I have been a literary omnivore since  was a kid – in love with books and film of all types and genres.  But I think if I had to pick one author that influenced me more than any other it’s Truman Capote.  His short stories are where I fell in love with language. IN COLD BLOOD, a searing true crime book – maybe the first of its kind -- taught me that one could write about crime and the dark side of human nature with compassion and with beauty. That book gave me permission to be who I am as a writer.

I also tend to mention REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier when asked this question. That was my first thriller. And the idea of the ordinary young woman caught in a tangle of extraordinary circumstance has been a theme in my work since my early novels.

HANK: I so agree! SO interesting to hear this, because we’ve never discussed this specifically. (Too many margaritas, maybe…) Certainly both have influenced me—Truman Capote was top of mind throughout TRUST ME. So--What projects are you working on now?

LISA: I am working on the revisions for my next novel.  But I never talk about a book until it’s totally complete.  So I’ll have to keep you suspense. After all, that’s my job!

HANK: Why why why did I even bother asking??? You are fabulous. And thank you so much for being here today!  I’m in Florida right now, actually, at BookMania—so let’s chat about dreams today—and I will pop in as often as I can.

 A few days ago, I dreamed I wrote a significantly successful book. Can I remember what I was? Nope. Only the title.

What have you dreamed about recently? Do you remember? And I may be checking in only sporadically—but you can be sure I am reading every post! And I’ll be here as much as I can—and totally focus when I get on the plane to come home.

SO now—take it away. Your turn.  And we’ll choose one lucky commenter to win Lisa’s internationally acclaimed UNDER MY SKIN!


Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of sixteen novels. Her latest, UNDER MY SKIN, is nominated for an Edgar Award and the Hammett Prize. Her short story, THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL, is a #1 bestselling Kindle Single and is also nominated for an Edgar Award.
Published in twenty-six languages worldwide, with more than two million copies sold, her books have been voted "Best of the Year" or top picks by the Today show, Good Morning AmericaEntertainment Weekly, AmazonIndieBoundGoodreads and more. 
Her nonfiction essays have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. Lisa Unger lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.


What if the nightmares are actually memories?

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn’t recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?
The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts—there are periods of time she can’t remember, and she’s unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she’s imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband’s death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?

65 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the award nominations, Lisa. And count me among the readers who enjoy your books.

    Dreams? I almost never remember what I dream. It’s always a mystery . . . .

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    1. Oh gosh, so you know you had a dream, but you just don’t remember it? What do you think about that?

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    2. Generally, I assume I had a dream, but I have no memory of it when I wake up in the morning.

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    3. Oh, so interesting! ANd oh that's so tantalizing...

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  2. Like Joan, I rarely remember my dreams. This book sounds great though, and congrats on all your nominations, Lisa!

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    1. So you wake up in the morning, and do you think oh I had a dream but what was it? Or do you not remember that you even dreamed?

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    2. I usually don't even remember I dreamed.

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    3. But if you did, it might be fun to know. Or ...not. I think our brains work the way they're meant to.

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  3. Gosh, sometimes I remember them so completely vividly! Sometimes, I will confess, I have trouble sorting which is real and which is a dream. I really think some of the things happened, and they affect me emotionally.

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  4. Congratulations Lisa! I love your books!!

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    1. I do too, Dee! Do you remember when you started reading them?

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  5. What a year you're having, Lisa! Congratulations!!
    Dreams... I love it when I can remember them. And almost always I'm processing some anxiety from that day/week. (I'm forever losing my keys or my car...) So interesting to see how the mind twists and turns.

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  6. Congratulations to Lisa! terrific news. John and I both had dreams we couldn't wait to wake up from this morning--but no murders or red dresses, thank goodness!

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  7. Congratulations, Lisa!

    I rarely remember my dreams. I'd say never, but...when I become aware of them in the early morning and they get weird (like buying tires from the McDonald's drive-thru) I know it's time to get up and get the day started.

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  8. Congratulations on the new baby I mean book. I've ordered it. It's $5.99 on Kindle today by the way.

    Dreams fascinate me, mine at least. I believe they are the way to resolve stuff that we can't bear to think about consciously. I usually remember them for the first few minutes, but they vanish like smoke by the time I've brushed my teeth. There are a few repeating themes though. My favorite is the one when I discover a room/addition/attic in my house, a place I've never been before. And it is full of treasures that I love and need. Which could be washing machines if my real one has given up the ghost!

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    1. Yes yes yes-I have had that dream!ANd I think--why did I forget about that place? And it's always gorgeous..

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  9. Congratulations! I enjoyed In the Blood and look forward to Under My Skin. I had a startling dream about the characters in my WIP.

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  10. Congratulations, Lisa! And Hank, great interview.

    I almost never remember dreams, but when I do, they stay with me a long time. I went through a scary period, when my children were small, of dreaming about one of them, two years old at the time, nearly drowning. A therapist put me under hypnosis and helped me understand that my real fear was of my own inner child drowning, overwhelmed as I was by parental, marital, and other familial responsibilities. Once I realized this, and started making a little time for myself, the nightmares stopped.

    And I once had a very vivid dream about an old boyfriend, in which he was moving his new girlfriend's enormous shoe collection into his upstairs bedroom. I was with Steve by then, but the dream was so real that I talked to a mutual friend, and found out she had actually moved in with him, just days before. That was almost forty years ago, and I can still remember it because it still gives me the shivers. I had no way to know this.

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    1. We know FAR more than we know we know. And I think we have to embrace that. Do you?

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  11. I’m at a book event —back to you this afternoon —keep this comments coming. I love to hear your dreams!

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  12. Lisa, congratulations on the new book and the trifecta of award nominations!

    The timing of the dream question is funny for me because I have been in a few-month period of NOT remembering any dreams, but I awoke this morning with one fresh in my memory. At the beginning I walked into a bank building with a couple of my friends. It was Sunday, and they weren't open for banking business but were doing some kind of event. I stopped to talk with one of the bankers and was amazed to see on a shelf there several old books that I recently gave to charity. They were all textbooks from my grad school days in the 1980's relating to finance and economics. They were not copies of the same books, but clearly the ones I recently donated.

    Then I realized I was separated from my friends, and I walked toward the other side of the building to find them. Suddenly I wasn't in a bank any more, but a hospital. I somehow just knew that I was on a palliative care floor. It seemed everywhere I looked, there were families crying. Then I encountered my husband's sister, her son, and the wife of one of my husband's brothers. They all looked upset and the brother's wife had clearly been crying hard. They brushed past me and she said, "That's it. I'm done. I need to leave here now." I continued on, frantically looking for the room with a family member in it to figure out which one it was and what had happened. And then I woke up.

    It was such a strange feeling when I checked in here today and the question was about dreams. Honestly, I don't think I've remembered a dream for months, whereas over the course of my life I have often had quite vivid dreams. So the timing of this topic and my dream life was surprising.

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    1. Are you worried about someone? And that is so...touching..

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  13. Great conversation!! I have to check out both of your books! My last dream was about my brother who has been gone many years now, I just wish I could remember it

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  14. Congratulation Lisa on the well-deserved recognition! Looking forward to another great "creepy read" with Under My Skin.
    I do dream and I'm fascinated by how the brain continues to work 24/7. My dreams have some recurring themes and I googled them to see if I could get some insight. Google was just as vague as my dreams so now I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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    1. Oh--the house dream? The test dream? Or my favorite--why did I get that haircut?

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  15. Adding my congratulations, Lisa!

    I don't recall my dreams but I also don't have any awareness of having dreamed in years. I think I am just so exhausted by the end of the day that I tumble headlong into sleep and, the next thing I know, my alarm is ringing.

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  16. A dream will stay with me when I wake up to go to the bathroom but in the morning, it will be forgotten.
    Under My Skin seems to be a great story.

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    1. Isn't that SO interesting?? Why can't we remember?

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  17. Lisa, this book sounds so intriguing that I want straight to Amazon to find the Kindle version!

    I often remember my dreams. They fall into the usual categories (stress related), wish fulfillment (yes, that was me commanding the Starship Enterprise), story ideas, and seeing lost loved ones or pets. Sometimes the latter are so vivid I can't help but wonder if they are real. The last dream I remember is from just before I woke yesterday morning. I saw my beloved kitty Saffron, who died 10 years ago. Her sweet little face filled me with joy and I was reaching for her.

    I especially like the dreams where I know I'm dreaming and can control the dream, but that doesn't happen often. Does that happen to anyone here?

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    1. Cathy, I think that phenomenon is known as lucid dreaming--I have always been a lucid dreamer. I'm always aware of the fact that I'm dreaming and occasionally, I will be dreaming that I'm dreaming--those are kind of scary because it takes a bit of time to get back through those layers of subconsciousness to reality.

      And Lisa, always interesting to see what sparks a story! Under My Skin sounds like my kind of creepy!

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    3. I forgot to mention that my subconscious is not subtle. When I feel stressed, I often dream that I'm Captain Marvel, fighting bad guys with the Avengers. Take THAT stress! LOL. My version of Manderley: Last night I dreamed I was Captain Marvel again. Sadly true.

      I wonder if seeing the movie will change this.

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    4. Flora: Yes, lucid dreaming is what I meant. I couldn’t remember what it was called. Thank you.

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    5. Lucid dreaming--yes. Sometimes I am in a dream, and it's--tense. ANd I think, in the dream, "this is a dream so don't worry. And then I think--let's make ti different. And I do. But that's pretty interesting.

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  18. Congratulations, Lisa! I don't know if there's a word for "Double Edgar nominee," but it's amazing!

    I recently dreamed my parents had moved to Arizona, and I went on a walk from their house and wound up in Jenn McKinlay's yard! Her husband was very nice and invited me in and we all had a drink before walking back to my folk's place. This is odd because my mother is dead and my Dad would NEVER leave the Syracuse area.

    I suspect the dream was really about me escaping the never-ending bone-chilling cold we've been having in Maine. Arizona sounds like paradise this time of year.

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    1. I love how sweet and complicated and multi-layered that is...

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  19. Lately I’ve been having dreams about trying to avoid driving on flooded roads. In reality, there has been a lot of minor flooding in our town, much of it in my neighborhood. A former coworker got stuck in a flood that she thought was just a large puddle. Her car was a total loss. Fortunately, she was not harmed.

    Ever since I first saw The Wizard of Oz as a child, I’ve had tornado nightmares. Sometimes years go by between these dreams, and then they start up again.

    Years after graduating from college, I still occasionally dream that tomorrow I must take a final exam for a class I didn’t know I was taking, and it’s a subject I would never in a million years be interested in.

    Once in a great while I dream that I’ve just walked through the front door of a duplex apartment we lived in when I was a teenager, and instead of our home, I’m in a charming Victorian-style tea room, staffed by ancient white haired ladies, who are also selling hand-crafted items! Bizarre, but cozy, too! By the way, that apartment was my favorite of all the places we lived when I was growing up.

    DebRo

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    1. I'm with you on the tornado dreams, Deb, and I'm sure it's from The Wizard of Oz as a child. Add to that the fact that my great-grandma was killed in a tornado that struck at night and you have the stuff of nightmares.

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    2. Oh, Cathy, that’s awful!

      DebRo

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    3. DebRo, I don't have that one as often as I used to, thank God!

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    4. Such nice dreams! The WIzard of Oz--classic! And you're "I' m in a cozy" dream--love it.

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  20. Congratulations, Lisa. What an interesting thought that nightmares are actually memories. Looking forward to reading "Under My Skin". Sounds like a real page-turner.

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  21. Congratulations, Lisa, on your award nominations. I heard you speak at St. Pete's Bouchercon, and I so admired your ease and command of yourself. I was on my first panel at that Bouchercon, and I'm afraid I was a bit of a mess. I apologize for not having read Under My Skin yet, but I will be reading it soon. Dreams are of great interest to me.

    I do remember my dreams quite well. The recurring theme ones are of particular interest to me, as I keep wondering if they are trying to tell me something or are just anxiety dreams reflecting my tamped down anxiety. I know I've mentioned here on Jungle Reds before about my paralytic dreams I used to have. Talk about anxiety. You are sure you're awake, but you can't move or scream or talk, but there is some imminent danger nearby. I haven't had one of those in years, and I hope I'm finished with them.

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    1. Oh, gosh, Kathy...I think you have certainly found yourself (!) enough to have banished that one forever. xxoo

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  22. I seem to be in the can’t-remember-my-dreams cycle right now. The last one I remember featured a woman I worked with 20 years ago. She invited me for coffee, said she’d meet me at a cafe, didn’t show up, turned up elsewhere, and was annoyed I’d found her. ?????? I expect reading your book to be a better experience!

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  23. Congratulations, Lisa! How thrilling to be nominated for the Edgar and the Hammett. Bravo! I am intrigued by the premise of your book, mostly because I don't dream, or more accurately, if I do, I never remember them. Maybe once every couple of years, I'll remember something for a moment when I wake up but then it's gone. I am most definitely picking up Under My Skin today! Congrats again!

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  25. Congratulations, Lisa, on your nominations! How fabulous! I'm looking forward to reading Under My Skin, and I'm always interested in writers' processes. I usually remember dreams pretty clearly when I first wake up, but if I don't write them down immediately, poof. I often dream about houses, being in a place that seems intimately familiar, and yet is nowhere I have ever actually seen or been. No idea what that means!

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    1. I've tried writing down my dreams but what I read the next day is just gibberish, literally a sequence of emotions or images. The vivid one can remember clearly upon waking are the ones that stay with me.

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    2. I have the house dream! I KNOW the house--and yet it is no place I have ever been. I love it, though, and am often disappointed to realize it was a dream. I think it's a good thing--about imagination and happiness and hidden depths. XXOXO

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  26. My event is over, and I am at the airport, getting ready to board a plane! Crossing fingers for Wi-Fi… Talk soon!

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  27. I don't remember most of my dreams but I do remember having one after my father died where he was alive again. I told him that we gave away all his stuff! I had another as a kid where I was in a forest but then the trees turned into paneling.

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    1. The trees turned into paneling?? Whoa. What does that mean??? (And poor thing--your Dad was fine with that.)

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  28. AND THE WINNER OF Crystal King's The Chef's Secret IS: Melanie Bodin! Email me via contact on my website..and tell me your address!
    AND THE WINNER OF Lisa Unger's Under My Skin is--Susan Emerson!Email me via contact on my website..and tell me your address!

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  29. FROM LISA UNGER! AND THE WINNER IS! She had so many technical difficulties posting to the blog on her day last week! She's eager to thank you all, though, and has enlisted me as messenger ! She says:
    Thanks so much everyone for the kind words and for sharing your fascinating dreams! I love hearing how people experience this other world we all visit but rarely understand. And congratulations, Susan, who won a copy of UNDER MY SKIN. Hope you love it!

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