Wednesday, July 15, 2009


New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers' name means a gripping story you won't be able to put down. Now, with The Mist, she brings readers into a world where few can be trusted and appearances often deceive...

More than 50 titles and 10 million copies of her books are in print! Carla Neggers is known for writing action-packed suspense blended with romance--and in real life, she's absolutely a treasure. Generous, intelligent and hilarious. And check out this amazing list of books!

Continuing our suspense theme--JRW welcomes this international sensation. (Carla's laughing now, I bet. But hey, its all true.)

HANK: The first time one of your books made the New York Times bestseller list--how did you find out? What happened and what did you think?

CARLA: THE HARBOR tied for #15. My editor and agent called me at my signing at the Brentano's in Boston. It's since gone out of business, but I was chatting with the store manager, who just loves books, about what we'd read lately (which is one of my favorite things to do!). My mind wasn't at all on bestseller lists. It was a cold, cold, cold January night in Boston. I definitely remember that! My daughter and her then-fiance and I went out to dinner to celebrate. I love that it was's "my" city. THE MIST, my latest novel, is set there, with a dash of Ireland and Maine.

HANK: The MIST is your newest...tell us about it.

CARLA: THE MIST is about a woman who sets out to stop a dangerous billionaire from exacting revenge on the FBI and Boston Police Department. Lizzie Rush isn't in law enforcement herself -- she's a hotelier and the daughter of a spy who taught her everything he knows. She's such a fun character! I "saw" the opening scene early on -- I love it when that happens. Lizzie had just given the slip to a *real* spy -- a Brit, aristocratic Will Davenport, who appears briefly in THE ANGEL -- and confronts a killer in an ancient Irish stone circle. Then it's on to Boston...

HANK: Your heroines are so--brave. Are you brave? What's it like to write about them?

CARLA: There's an old Eleanor Roosevelt quote that I just love: "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water." That's true for Lizzie Rush in THE MIST and probably for a lot of us. We're not always faced with a good option and a bad option -- then it's easy. Take the good one! To me bravery is more about doing what we have to do in spite of our fears vs. not having fears. I think that's more compelling in a character, too. Lizzie has her fears -- but she's also strong, resilient and capable. And she loves lavender bath salts. After kicking butt in an Irish stone circle, it's nice to take a hot bath in lavender bath salts, don't you think? ;-)

HANK: Do your books start with a character? Or a plot twist? Or a setting? What’s the nugget that you know will make it work?

CARLA: My creative process tends not to be regimented, routine or predictable -- every story's different. With THE MIST, I knew Will Davenport, a mysterious British lord who appears briefly in THE ANGEL and takes center stage in Lizzie Rush's quest to stop a billionaire from exacting violent revenge. I also knew the billionaire: Norman Estabrook plays a minor role in THE ANGEL. I didn't "know" Lizzie yet. I first "saw" her when I imagined a woman in an isolated village pub on the southwest Irish coast as Will walks in, and she gives him the slip and ends up taking on a knife-wielding thug in an ancient Irish stone circle. Who would such a woman be? She emerged as a member of an eccentric family that owns boutique hotels around the world, the daughter of a spy who taught her everything he knows and a woman who never knew her mother. I think of her as always being there. I just had to get to know her.

HANK: Promotion—you’re always on the go! How’s life on the road? Can you remember that it’s glamorous and wonderful?

CARLA: Yikes, I have been on the road a lot these past few months. I love meeting readers and booksellers and seeing new places. I always try to take time out for myself. On this July trip, I had an afternoon off in New Haven and took myself to the British Museum at Yale. At Thrillerfest in New York and the Romance Writers of America convention in Washington, DC, I have the plus of getting to see writer friends and so many wonderful people in publishing. Being on the road reminds me how many people work so hard to get our books into readers' hands, and just how much fun we all have reading books we love. The glamor -- well, I have to say, the Harlequin party celebrating their 60th anniversary at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington should be a glam night! What to wear, what to wear... ;-)

HANK: Well, we'll certainly be taking photos! But we just came back from Thrillerfest.. and we're both now at the Romance Writers of America Convention in Washington, DC. That is a bit--of culture shock? What's on your mind, comparing the two?

CARLA: What Thrillerfest and Romance Writers of America have in common: dedicated, wonderful volunteers who make it possible for us all to get together and talk writing and books. We are incredibly fortunate to be part of two organizations that offer so much to their members. I've been a proud member of RWA for a long, long time, and I'm a vice president of International Thriller Writers. They're different but share a love of books and writers who are passionate about their work. The best conversations I have at both events center on my favorite question...'what have you read lately?' ;-)

HANK: And also: "How are you going to carry home all the books?" But finally, are you different now, then when you started? How? What advice would you give to not only new authors, but those who are just beginning the writing life?

CARLA: I love to write now as much as I did when I first grabbed a pad and pen and climbed a tree at 11 and spun stories. My advice to writers at any stage of their careers -- to myself -- is to be mindful of the yin-yang of writing as "work" and writing as "play." Find or create a synergy that's exciting and productive for you. I highly recommend Ken Atchity's book A WRITER'S TIME -- read his take on the continent and the islands. It's brilliant.

HANK: Thanks, Carla! You are inspiration. Questions on writing? Promotion? Kayaking? (Yeah, she kayaks.) Carla (and I) are in Washington, DC at the Romance Writers of America Convention (photos to come) but she graciously agreed to stop by JRW whenever she can.

A magna cum laude journalism graduate of Boston University, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers is the daughter of a Dutch immigrant and a southern mother. After growing up in western Massachusetts, often climbing a tree with pad and pen to compose stories, Carla enjoyed a brief stint as an arts and entertainment writer before she turned to writing fiction full-time. Her latest bestselling novel, The Mist, a July MIRA Books hardcover, takes readers to settings Carla loves to visit: Boston, Maine and the Beara Peninsula of Ireland. Her 2008 hardcover, The Angel, is a RITA® finalist

For more information on her latest books and to contact Carla, please visit:


  1. Thanks so much for featuring Carla. Great interview. And Carla, you are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for being role model!

  2. Welcome to Jungle Red Carla! we're pleased you managed to fit us in despite a killer schedule! Can you write at the same time you promote a new book? I'm really sorry not to get to RWA this year, but maybe next...that is a wonderful organization, second only to Sisters in Crime:). (Can't help my bias there--and as my husband would point out, it's not a competition!)

  3. The RWA - SINC connection is wonderful--to meet so many people who have the same goals---reading and writing great books. ITW, too.

    It's aa nice big tent. Except our tent has electricity, so we can plug in hair dryers.

  4. Just back from lunch with my good friend and wonderful writer Mary Blayney. Thanks for the warm welcome! Yes, I can write on the road, although it's easier if I'm starting rather than finishing a book. Signings, Thrillerfest and RWA are inspiring because I get to talk with so many people who love to read. :-)

    Hank, can't wait to see you in DC. Bring comfy shoes!

  5. Great interview. Inspirational. And I love the quote. Never heard it before.

  6. Ten million books in print, Carla? Maybe I should just shoot myself right now.
    I got home from book tour last night and I don't know how you could write and promote at the same time. I tried writing short bursts at airports and on planes but it's not the same as the peace and quiet of one's own room.
    I've never been to RWA but I was invited to one of the cocktail parties last year, and rather scared by all the romance-divas there! Do you think RWA really helps mystery writers, as opposed to romantic suspense writers?

  7. Hi Carla -

    I read about eight of your books in a row a few years ago. It's obviously time for another Neggar-blitz. (So many authors to read...) I love the way you "chain" characters from one book to another,from interesting side character to main character to old friend.

    How did you first research the law enforcement parts of your books? How did you decide you had enough for those realistic touches in your stories?

    Hope you're having fun.


  8. Oh, Rhys, lots of wonderful mystery writers and kindred souls here at RWA... highly recommended.

    Yeah, Carla's numbers are incredibly intimidating.. well, let's just say inspirational instead.

    Good thing she's so lovely.