Lilac Lane - Ann Swann
Starting over is scary enough without having someone you're running from. I think that's part of what makes Ella's story so intense -- that and the author's brilliant use of dramatic irony. Early on in the book, the reader learns that Anson has been released from jail and he's looking for Ella and Nick. But Ella continues to believe that he's still in jail. Because of this, each time something bizarre happens, Ella assumes that it can't be Anson because he's still in jail.
The other genius part of this thriller is that, while the reader knows that Anson is on the loose, there are several other possibilities placed before us and it's difficult to guess what direction the author will choose. There are the raccoons, the idea of a ghost, Mrs. Benefield and her "little boys in the attic," and most of all, there's Chet. While he seems to be the perfect man (albeit with a small amount of baggage) he could be an insane psychopath stalker that is trying to scare Ella into his open arms. The part that I found most fantastic about all of this is that I, as the reader, would have been content with any of these scenarios!
Finally, and possibly my favorite part, was that although there is some romance between Chet and Ella, this is truly a story about mother and son. Throughout the book, the bond between Ella and Nick grows stronger as they count on each other to survive the difficult situation. I loved this aspect and appreciated the strength of these characters. Family is so important and I think we tend to forget that.
Some Bio Information
Ann lives in Texas with her husband and rescue pets. She loves libraries and book stores and owns two e-readers just for fun. Ann writes what she likes to read. Her Romantic Suspense series (5 Prince Books) consists of: Book One, Stutter Creek, and Book Two, Lilac Lane. Book three will be out in 2015. Her other book for 5 Prince Publishing is All For Love, a women’s novel of heartache and hope.
Her paranormal book series centers around a couple of teenage ghost-magnets: Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot, Stevie-girl and The Phantom Student, and Stevie-girl and The Phantom of Crybaby Bridge.
Ann also has short fiction in several anthologies. The most recent short story, Sleepaway Pounds, won first place in a short-story contest. It is included in the anthology, Seasonal, Sweet, and Suspenseful.
1. Describe your optimal writing environment.
My optimal writing environment is on my iMac at my antique teacher’s desk in my den. I’ll have some music on, but nothing too distracting. I actually like to have the radio on so there is a variety, but I often turn it down so low I can barely hear it. Background noise, I suppose.
2. Chet and Ella's story seems a bit open ended. Are you leaving it up to the reader's imagination, or are you planning to continue their story?
Great question. I don’t believe in easy endings. I wanted Ella to be more careful after all she (they) had been through. And YES, there will be a bit about them in the next book, but they will not be the major characters this time.
3. I find the character of Mrs. Benefield intriguing. Is she merely a red herring or is that a story for another time?
Poor Mrs. Benefield (fictional name) was based on a real woman who used to call me when I was a nighttime police dispatcher. She had dementia and she would call me in the middle of the night and whisper that “those boys” were back in her attic. It always gave me chills so I had to include her somewhere. But basically she was just a red herring here.
4. Describe the ingredients for a perfect suspense thriller.
Another great question. Each book is different, but of course there must be someone in distress, someone (or something) threatening to harm them in some way, and of course the satisfactory resolution. I know that is super simple, but I often write about “evil” humans because I’ve met a few of them in real life. It’s my catharsis.
5. Why do you think Anson was trying to inflict psychological damage as well as physical damage? He had the element of surprise initially.
He wanted more than just physical revenge. He was going to make them suffer and he didn’t want it to be over too quickly.
6. For the most part, Lilac Lane is told through Ella's perspective, but you break from that on several occasions -- why?
I like for the reader to be in different characters’ skin. I feel it lends immediacy to the story. I also write what I like to read, and I love to look at things from different perspectives. I get bored easily.
7. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Everything I write began with something that really happened. Sometimes it is something that occurred locally (as with the little boy beside the road in Stutter Creek), or something that I read about in the news (as with husbands who murder their estranged wives and/or girlfriends). Often I have to write about horrific things just to get them out of my mind.