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Gregg Olsen: On Returning to Favorite Characters

New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen discusses jumping a decade in time with one of his favorite characters in his new thriller, Snow Creek.

A #1 New York Times bestselling true-crime writer, Gregg Olsen is praised for his ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of real people and fictional characters caught in extraordinary circumstances. He has authored ten nonfiction books, over twenty novels, a novella, and a short story, which appeared in a collection edited by Lee Child. In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People, Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post. He is a native of Seattle and currently lives in rural Washington state. 

Gregg Olsen: On Returning to Favorite Characters

In this post, Gregg discusses jumping almost a decade in time in his new thriller, Snow Creek, how publishing has changed since he began his career, and more!

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Name: Gregg Olsen
Literary agent: Susan Raihofer, Black Inc.
Book title: Snow Creek
Publisher: Grand Central
Expected release date: August 2021
Genre/category: Thriller/Mystery
Elevator pitch for the book: Megan Carpenter is a detective with a big secret – and an advantage. She knows serial killers because her father was one.
Previous titles by the author: Lying Next to Me, The Hive, If You Tell, and dozens more.

Gregg Olsen: On Returning to Favorite Characters

Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen

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What prompted you to write this book? 

As a crime reader and writer, I’ve always been fascinated about the aftermath of murder and violence, and the toll it takes on people long after the trial and the media go away. I wanted to write a novel with a character whose connection to murder left her wondering—how much of her father had been passed on to her?

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

I first wrote about the character of Megan Carpenter in a two-book Young Adult series (The Girl on the Run and The Boy She Left Behind). She lingered in my mind as characters often do. With Snow Creek, I took her more than a decade forward in time, making her a detective bent on solving the most heinous crimes. Her background, her thought processes, even her sarcastic humor all came together to form a character that was unlike any that I’d written. I love the mix of vulnerable and tough. When my publisher suggested taking Megan into the future, I was delighted. Four books into the series, I am still surprised by her growth as a human being learning to trust and love. And yes, catch the bad guys. It took me about seven months to go from contract to my editor’s capable hands.

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

There are always surprises, of course. That’s the joy of publishing. Maybe for the first time in my career, I heard my publisher talk about Megan as though she knew her; that the person I created was living and breathing. That kind of support fueled everything that was to come. When someone loves your character and digs deep into motivations, psyche, etc. it makes the writer push harder.

Gregg Olsen: On Returning to Favorite Characters

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

The interest and care that my publisher put into everything shouldn’t have surprised me, but I guess it did. It felt like a collaboration in many ways too—from the story arc to the editing, to the cover and marketing plan. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve found that this era of faster-paced publishing suits me. Back in the day, it could take a couple of years to get a book to market (sometimes longer!) and today that’s been cut significantly. Writers are idea factories…and the faster pace means we get to tell more stories and see the results of what we are doing in half the time. It’s exciting. And, honestly, motivating.

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

First of all, I hope that it excites them enough to follow Megan’s story throughout the series. That’s every writer’s hope. Yet, more than that, I want readers to consider the impact of violence on all sides of the murder equation.

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

For aspiring writers, especially, I want you to know that writing is a job. That means you have to work at it. I tell young writers all the time that those of us who’ve been in the industry for a while are rooting for you. Readers are always looking for new voices. Why shouldn’t yours be the next one that captivates and enthralls? 

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