Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Lisa Unger Interview - The Stranger Inside

Photo Credit: Jay Nolan

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels, including THE STRANGER INSIDE. With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Lisa Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. In 2019, she received two Edgar Award nominations, an honor held by only a few writers including Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie. The Edgar-nominated UNDER MY SKIN is also a finalist for the prestigious Hammett Prize, and the Macavity Award for Best Novel. And the original short story THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL is a #1 bestselling single.

Unger's critically acclaimed books have been voted "Best of the Year" or top picks by the Today show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, IndieBound and many others. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I have been writing since childhood. Most writers are readers first. That’s where we fall in love with story. And that was certainly true for me. And then many writers, I imagine, have a moment where they think: If I can be so moved by someone else’s story and characters, can I also move people with my stories? I don’t remember a time in my life before I defined myself as a writer. And I never wanted to do anything else. So I feel very grateful that I have been able to fulfill that dream.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
The creative process is an organic one, and so naturally there is an ebb and a flow. Some days you can’t stop the pages from coming; books seem to write themselves. And other days, you struggle to get a few good sentences down. We all love the flow; but we have to be comfortable in the ebb, as well. Of course, I am also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend; there’s a life and a home to manage. There’s always a gauntlet to run to find my way into the creative zone. But, as I always tell aspiring writers, there’s no other way to write a book than to sit down and write it – good days and bad. Schedule the time and honor the schedule. This is just as true for the working professional writer – maybe more so.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
I feel like there isn’t one answer to that question. As a lifelong reader, I could cite a number of important books that shifted my worldview.

But the book that first comes to mind is IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote -- which I read at a wildly inappropriate age. I was already in love with Truman Capote’s voice and imagery from his collections of short stories Other Voices, Other Rooms, and Music for Chameleons. But I also had a dark imagination and deep curiosity about the human psyche and what caused people to do bad things. IN COLD BLOOD gave me permission to be who I think I always was as a writer. It gave me permission to shine a light into the darkest places and do it with compassion and a love of language.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
By far my most rewarding experience is hearing from readers who have been moved by and connected on a deep level with my stories and characters. There’s nothing more important to a writer than knowing someone else has visited a world she created and found something that stayed with them or changed them.

Can you tell us when you started THE STRANGER INSIDE, how that came about?
In my research for another novel, I found a book entitled THE INNER WORLD OF TRAUMA: The Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, by Donald Kalsched. This work was deeply affecting and some of what I learned has stayed with me, coming up again and again in my imagination.

This was where I was first introduced to the Jungian concept of the psyche splitting, an occurrence in cases of extreme trauma where a stronger “self” emerges to protect the weaker aspects of the personality. He talked about it as a survival strategy. I have toyed with this idea in other novels, but in THE STRANGER INSIDE, I really dig in deep. I’m most fascinated by the question of what happens to this stronger self when you don’t need him anymore. That’s the heart of THE STRANGER INSIDE.

What part of Rain did you enjoy writing the most?
A long time ago, I stopped thinking of characters as people that I create and started thinking of them as people that I meet. The joy of every novel, and every character, is uncovering the layers, getting to know each person as the narrative unfolds. I related deeply to Rain’s conflict between the two big parts of herself – her life as Lily’s mother and her drive in her career. I was fascinated by how she compartmentalized her dark past, locked it away deep inside. And even though her relationship to Hank is twisted and unhealthy, I was deeply curious about their connection.

Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why?
I wouldn’t say the writers on this list are new but these are some of my favorite recent reads: The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman; The Swallows by Lisa Lutz; The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan; Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself that leaves you wondering where that came from?
I actually think it works the other way around. The world is so scary that I have to write to make sense of it all.

  • 1. You believe that sleep is overrated: I want THE STRANGER INSIDE to keep you up all night!
  • 2. You are fascinated by characters’ pasts: Rain, the protagonist in THE STRANGER INSIDE, has a complicated and shocking past, one that is now coming back to haunt her.
  • 3. You believe that a person can have more than one self: THE STRANGER INSIDE explores the Jungian concept of the psyche splitting, an occurrence in cases of extreme trauma where a stronger “self” emerges to protect the weaker aspe
  • 4. You love stories that stay with you: I hope THE STRANGER INSIDE is a story you will keep thinking about long after you turn the last page.
  • 5. You know that justice is not always simple: cts of the personality. He talked about it as a survival strategy.
  • What is the difference between justice and revenge? THE STRANGER INSIDE dives deep into this question. When bad men get away with murder and good people are driven to do evil things – who is the hero and who is the villain?
  • 6. Sometimes you root for the bad guy: Hank, THE STRANGER INSIDE’s villain, is frightening, but he’s understandable. I hope you will come away from the story being glad to have met him.
  • 7. You’re obsessed with stories of obsession: The exploration of obsession, the drive to possess the very essence of another person, is one of the themes of THE STRANGER INSIDE.
  • 8. You know people can recover from trauma, but it leaves lasting wounds: Some experiences affect us so deeply that we are forever altered. This is an integral part of the story of THE STRANGER INSIDE.
  • 9. You are happy to take reading advice from other fantastic authors, like Riley Sager, who said: "A darkly thrilling tale of survival and obsession. Lisa Unger never disappoints."
  • 10. You want to test how quickly you can turn pages: With THE STRANGER INSIDE, I hope you won’t be able to turn them fast enough!
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
That there’s a device used in taxidermy called a “flesher.” Look it up. Or, rather, don’t.

What is the last movie that you saw at the cinema?
Funny you should ask. Just last weekend, my husband and I had our first grown-up-movie- theater-night in 13 years (I have a 13-year-old. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And, of course, we’ve seen EVERY kid movie in the theater.) We saw “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” It was an absolutely wild, brilliantly wrought, thrill ride. Loved it. And how does Brad Pitt just get hotter and hotter?

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
A random act of kindness. For no reason, and for a complete stranger, just do something helpful, sweet, or thoughtful. It doesn’t have to be much. You’ll be amazed at how the smallest act can make a difference.

What are you most passionate about today?
There are so many things on my mind these days. I am passionate about conserving the environment. I am an advocate for gun control, and an end to the unchecked violence that seems to be a national disease. Mainly, I wish that every human being in the world could shed hatred and find love in his or her heart for others and the planet on which we reside together. I think this would take care of most of our problems.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Oh, there are lots of answers to that question. But probably motherhood has changed most the way I see the world, what I want from life, what scares, me worries, brings me joy. Motherhood introduced me to all new layers of myself. I am a better person because of my daughter. I am more compassionate and patient. I am a better writer because of what I now know about myself, and about children.

"A darkly thrilling tale of survival and obsession. Lisa Unger never disappoints." 
Riley Sager, bestselling author of Lock Every Door

Even good people are drawn to do evil things...

Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend's house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice--and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends' abductor force Rain to revisit memories she's worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can't Rain just let it go?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.


“Unger writes smart, chilling thrillers, and [The Stranger Inside] bodes to be one of her best.” Boston Globe

"Loved it!! Frightening, utterly compelling but also sharply insightful, compassionate and with a dark, atmospheric heart. Highly recommended." —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Nanny

"Tense, atmospheric and addictive, The Stranger Inside is an utterly unforgettable tale of justice, revenge and good vs. evil. And with one of the most compelling antagonists I’ve read in a very long time, this book hits my top five books this summer. The Stranger Inside was, quite simply, phenomenal." —Cristina McDonald, author of The Night Olivia Fell

"Surviving a crime is the beginning of the story, not the end, in this astute, engrossing thriller." —Kirkus, starred review

"Unger's latest thriller relentlessly uncovers a multitude of secrets, leading readers down a delicious path of fear, lies, and long-awaited justice, with an ending that will leave jaws dropping." —Booklist

"Cleverly plotted...Unger’s well-honed craft shows in her unmasking the avenger early on and using the reveal to ratchet up suspense. She also squirrels away several startling trump cards for later.” —Publishers Weekly

"A darkly thrilling tale of survival and obsession. Lisa Unger never disappoints." —Riley Sager, bestselling author of Lock Every Door

“It’s not often that I’m stunned by the ending to a novel. But The Stranger Inside is rich with surprise from the very first page. It’s a smart, taut thriller.” —Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and Midwives

"Unger is a sure bet for those seeking a nail-biting thriller with enough twists and turns to have you gasping for air by the time you finally reach the ending." —The Real Book Spy

You can purchase The Stranger Inside at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LISA UNGER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger.. 


  1. "Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?" I once dressed as a pirate when I was little! It was an excellent costume!

  2. I love discovering new books and authors

  3. We always go all out for Halloween. From our costumes to making graves in yard with people hidden under pine straw with dry ice blowing

  4. I think one of my favorite memories was back in the day at the skating rink. My mom and aunt would go all out to create an thematic costume design for 11 kids. We won all the awards year after year for several years.

  5. Taking my ex to shoot paintballs at zombies was fun.