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Deanna Raybourn: On Pushing Yourself in the Writing Process

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn discusses writing her new thriller novel, Killers of a Certain Age.

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Lady Julia Grey series, currently in development for television, as well as the USA Today bestselling and Edgar Award nominated Veronica Speedwell Mysteries and several standalone works. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Deanna Raybourn: On Pushing Yourself in the Writing Process

Deanna Raybourn

In this post, Deanna discusses writing her new thriller novel, Killers of a Certain Age, how the experience has been different from her previous novels, and more!

Name: Deanna Raybourn
Literary agent: Pamela Hopkins of Hopkins Literary Associates
Book title: Killers of a Certain Age
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: September 6, 2022
Genre/category: Thriller
Previous titles: The Veronica Speedwell Series, currently seven titles published with two more under contract; The Julia Grey Series; four standalone novels
Elevator pitch for the book: What happens when four female assassins find out the agency they’ve dedicated their lives to would rather eliminate them than let them retire?

Deanna Raybourn: On Pushing Yourself in the Writing Process

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What prompted you to write this book?

My editor called one day with an invitation to write something about badass older women with the idea of "do women really become more invisible as they age?” I grabbed the chance with both hands and ran. I pushed myself in every possible way as a writer, and it’s been the most fun I’ve ever had with the keyboard.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

It was three and a half years from that first conversation to publication, and there were lots of twists along the way, but the core of the book never changed. I knew I wanted a quartet of characters, and I wanted them to be assassins who were fighting for their survival.

I always planned for them to have to rely on one another rather than an organization or fancy weapons. They are thrown back on their experience and resources instead of sophisticated gadgetry. And they take the ways that society overlooks older women and use that as their superpower.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career—my historical novels have been very well received. But this book feels different. I think because it’s a contemporary novel and because the premise is a bit unusual, it’s getting a bigger buzz which is a lot of fun. There aren’t enough projects with older women showing a tougher side, and people are really responding to that.

Deanna Raybourn: On Pushing Yourself in the Writing Process

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Absolutely! Because I was writing contemporary for the first time and doing some third-person scenes, I had to develop a completely new writing voice. It took multiple drafts to get that right, to streamline the plot, to flesh out the characters. My editor was extremely patient and gave superb advice; it just took several attempts to make it happen.

I finally pulled it all together in the last 96 hours before my deadline. I did nothing during that time but sleep, write, and eat, but I knew I had finally cracked it.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Escape. I hope readers are able to slip away with Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie, and enjoy the adventure. I think we all fantasize at times about lives that are very different from our own, and a quartet of assassins on the run is about as far from the ordinary as possible.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Nobody knows more about the best process for your writing than you do. Other writers may speak emphatically about process, but they only know what works for them.

There are very few absolutes in writing. Dr. Spock was right. You know more than you think you do, and you have to trust yourself.

If you aspire to be a professional writer, you must know the basics of communication. When you take this business writing workshop, you'll develop the skills necessary to survive in the business world as a writer.

If you aspire to be a professional writer, you must know the basics of communication. When you take this business writing workshop, you'll develop the skills necessary to survive in the business world as a writer.

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