1. What is your motivation or inspiration in writing this novel?
The Neighbors started with one question; “What if an ex-boyfriend moved in next door?” I played around with the idea, wondering how awkward and complicated I could make it for the characters, especially if there were deeply buried secrets they wanted to keep hidden. As the story and characters took shape, I got increasingly excited about the novel, adding twists and turns along the way. I hope readers will enjoy unravelling them as much as I loved writing them.
2. Are any of your characters based on anyone in your live that you know?
There are some elements here and there. For example, I love mud-runs, and my husband is very handy, but our relationship is nothing like Abby and Nate’s. My mum is a fabulous woman, and my parents have been married since the 60s, so no resemblance to Abby’s parents there either. Tom’s personality reminds me of my best friend, who was good to the core, and there is one small character I plucked from real-life; the young man on a skateboard Abby sees on the drive to the cemetery. He has red hair, flames on his shorts, and a plaster-cast on his arm. I was out shopping one day when I saw that exact young man. He was such an interesting and vivid character, I had to include him. It’s quite funny to think he became a character in my novel, but doesn’t have a clue, and I don’t even know his name.
3. What are your goals for your readers to take away with them from your novel?
My main goal is to entertain the reader. I’m acutely aware of the time people invest in reading a novel, and I want to do my best to make them feel it wasn’t wasted. You can’t please everyone, and reading is subjective, but I do hope the vast majority of the audience will find something they like, and can somehow relate to.
4. How do you keep a balance in your life between being an author and the other things that you do?
I’m very fortunate because I can spend a lot of time writing, but balance can still be a challenge depending on the stage of my novel. If, for example, I’m writing a first draft, I’ll work a few hours, but will then need to give my brain a break, so I’ll go to the gym. When I’m editing, I get so pulled into the story, I’ll work from the moment my boys leave for school, right up until they come home, and most likely again once they’ve gone to bed. I need to do a better job of balancing that stage, so my family still remembers who I am!
5. What hobbies, or what do you like to do in your downtime when you are not writing/ (pets, cooking, baking, gardening, reading, etc.?
I love going to the gym or out for a walk (or a run, if I’m feeling particularly enthusiastic) – it gives me time to think about things, whether it’s one of my stories, or something completely unrelated. I also enjoy reading, movies, and baking, which I find utterly relaxing, and I have an appreciative audience at home. My family is number one, and unless I’m in fully-blown editing mode, or participating in a writing workshop, my weekends are for them.
6. What are your favorite genres of books?
My tastes have recently come full circle. When I was younger I read a lot of thrillers, but after losing my best friend in my early 20s, I turned to more light-hearted, rom-com type reads. Over the past few years I’ve gone back to thrillers; psychological thrillers and domestic suspense, in particular. I’m always intrigued to find out how characters deal with difficult situations, and how – or if – they grow throughout. I’ll still read some romantic stories, or dramas, as well as the odd non-fiction. But my heart is with the darker stuff.
7. What is your next project, and can you share some details?
Like The Neighbors, my third book is a domestic suspense story. After a man’s partner of five years dies in an accident, he begins to suspect her 7-year-old son might not be who he thinks he is. I’m making my protagonist’s life very difficult at the moment! The title is still in the works, but I can say it will be release in spring 2019!
8. Where would you like the readers to connect or contact you?
I love to connect with readers, and you’ll find me here:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15144570. Hannah_Mary_McKinnon
Looking forward to hearing from you!