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Lisa Regan: On Real Life and Fiction Colliding

USA Today bestselling author Lisa Regan discusses the experience of writing her new mystery novel, Her Final Confession.

Lisa Regan is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University.

Regan is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Lisa Regan: On Real Life and Fiction Colliding

Lisa Regan

In this post, Lisa discusses the experience of writing her new mystery novel, Her Final Confession, how real-world advancements collided with her story, and more!

Name: Lisa Regan
Book title: Her Final Confession
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: September 6, 2022
Genre/category: Mystery/Thriller
Previous titles: Vanishing Girls; The Girl With No Name; Her Mother’s Grave; Losing Leah Holloway; Cold-Blooded; Hold Still; Kill For You; and Finding Claire Fletcher
Elevator pitch for the book: Why would a decorated police officer take the fall for a murder she didn’t commit? To find out, Detective Josie Quinn digs into the past of her colleague, Detective Gretchen Palmer. What she finds is a series of dark secrets, a lifetime marred by violent encounters, and a killer that even Gretchen’s silence cannot stop.

Lisa Regan: On Real Life and Fiction Colliding

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What prompted you to write this book?

Although this book can certainly be read as a standalone, readers actually meet Detective Gretchen Palmer in Book 2 of the Detective Josie Quinn series, The Girl With No Name. Up until this book, we don’t know much at all about Gretchen other than she worked as a homicide detective in Philadelphia for 15 years; she’s intensely private and lonely; and she wears this beat-up leather jacket all year round.

What I wanted to do in this book was a deep dive into Gretchen’s past and unearth all of her secrets. I also wanted to challenge Josie and her team in a way they hadn’t faced before which is why the book kicks off with Gretchen confessing to the murder of a young man that she doesn’t even know.

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

I believe this book took about nine months from my jotting down notes for the idea to publication. This was one of the few books I’ve written where the book held almost completely to the outline I initially wrote. It was a sort of wonderful anomaly.

Usually my books change radically from when I first start outlining to publication, but Her Final Confession was very special. As a character, Gretchen felt very real to me and delving into her past felt more like channeling than writing. It was an amazing writing experience.

Also, without giving away any spoilers, there was a certain type of advance in a particular field of science that had been growing since 2005 and I always thought to myself, “What if police could somehow take this and use it to find killers?” I always wanted to use it in a book. By the time I sat down to write this one, it seemed like the perfect fit.

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

Since this was the fourth book in the Detective Josie Quinn series, there were no surprises in terms of publishing. The only surprise for me was that as I was finishing up the editing process, the previous book, Her Mother’s Grave, started doing extremely well, spending nine weeks on the USA Today bestseller list. I was surprised and delighted by how much readers enjoyed the first three books and how much interest there has been for this one.

Lisa Regan: On Real Life and Fiction Colliding

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

As I said earlier, without giving away any spoilers, beginning all the way back in 2005, huge advances were being made in a particular scientific field. It was something I hoped to use in one of my books. For years I wondered, “Oh what would happen if the advances in this field led to police being able to use it to find criminals?”

It had never been done before—or if it had, it hadn’t ever been made public. Then, literally as I was writing the first draft of this book, it actually happened. It was huge news. It was surprising but very cool to see fiction and real life match up in that way. I think it’s an awesome tool for law enforcement to use and now, in 2022, I understand it is far more common.

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

As with any of my books, I hope they get a few hours of entertainment where they will be swept up into a thrilling and intriguing story with lots of twists and turns and forget their troubles for a while.

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

It is tough to choose just one piece of advice for writers at any stage of their career or process, but I think I would say keep creating. Keep writing. Make new stories. I really think magical things happen if you keep creating new stories no matter what is happening in your career or your life.

Every story is a new possibility. If you’re an aspiring, unpublished author then a new story might be the one that gets you across the finish line to getting published. If you’re already established, a new story could be the one that helps you reach more readers or opens up new opportunities you never had before.

This business takes talent and hard work, but it also largely depends on luck and timing. When you keep creating new stories, I think you increase your odds of making your writing dreams come true in the luck and timing department.

Maybe the first book you wrote didn’t get a single request from an agent, but the next one might land you a contract in a matter of months. Maybe something you had on submissions to publishers two years ago wasn’t right for a particular publishing house, but the new book you’ve just written will be for a different house. Or perhaps the last three books you wrote were published but didn’t resonate all that well with readers.

Maybe the one you start today will be a huge hit with readers. You never know. So, keep writing.

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