What inspired the idea for your book?
KLP– In Book One, my protagonist, Olivia Callahan, suffers a major life setback that sets her on a series of disastrous decisions, one of which lands her in the bushes outside an ER, a victim of a vicious assault. When finally arising from a TBI (traumatic brain injury), she finds her difficult recovery had left her a completely different person—her brain had rewired itself in amazing ways. Instead of being shy and passive, she was now assertive and quirky. Driven.
The idea for this character plowed its way into my brain when I met a woman to whom this very thing had happened! She’d been in an auto accident that left her in a coma for months and months and had little hope of survival. When she arose, her personality had been flipped by her healing brain. I loved the idea of a ‘flipped personality’. Talk about second chances! And the more research I did, the more I realized that the brain can heal itself in a thousand ways, none of which are predictable. This makes for a great, character-building exercise as an author.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?
KLP– Since I already knew the background of my characters…many of their personality traits and life goals and family issues…I was free to more deeply explore these characters. Leaving the basics behind, I reached for the deeper, more insidious aspects of each life, and intertwined them with the stumbling blocks and obstacles that each character experiences in their separate life journeys alongside my protagonist, Olivia.
If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?
KLP– My protagonist, Olivia, is my favorite, and I love the woman she is becoming after the disastrous assault injuries. She was not even expected to survive, but because of the TBI she experienced which changed her personality, she is discovering a side of herself she never knew existed. We’d explore different kinds of good wine, make jokes about her giant, ginger, tomcat, Riot; talk about dating and the various ways to uncover the proverbial ‘ rotten apple’ in order to avoid catastrophe. Blindsided by her abusive ex’s divorce filing and an affair, we’d make sure that the life lessons Olivia had learned would stay intact by holding each other accountable. We would celebrate the blossoming of a new, better life and a new career, one that is exciting and exhilarating, but also a bit dangerous. In short, we’d be best friends forever.
IR– What does it mean to you to be called an author?
KLP– For me, being called an ‘author’ is a nod to the discovery, later in life, that I can wrap stories into words that tantalize and thrill. Words that have meaning and nuance and take a reader on a journey. I was certainly surprised to learn that not everyone could do this, and now I take huge satisfaction in putting words together to craft a story, and keep learning the best ways to do it. I don’t think an author can ever stop learning the craft.
IR– Do you have any quirky writing rituals?
KLP– Oddly enough, I have this weird procrastination that occurs whenever I place butt-in-chair in order to start writing. I’ll open a new pack of gum, clean off my desk, check my email. Check the weather. Check email again. Check texts. Then FB. Finally, I’ll zip in my earbuds, choose an instrumental station, and start. When the words start flowing under my fingers, it’s like getting high in the best way.
IR– What do you look for in a story as a reader?
KLP– I look for good grammar, an understanding of POV, and good sentence structure. I look for well-edited and formatted books. I can read the back cover copy, usually, and know whether I’d be interested in the book. Bad grammar or head-hopping or chronically misspelled words throw me out of the story. I love a well-written, tense, opening prologue or chapter that promises more suspense and tension moving forward.
IR– What has been your favorite reader feedback?
KLP– My all-time favorite is: “I couldn’t put it down!” And also, “I fell in love with Olivia!” I write in the suspense genre, so of course, I want to keep a reader on the edge of his seat. But I think the most endearing thing a reader can express is their absolute hatred of an antagonist or their complete adoration of one of the main characters. To me, the intimate bonding they’ve experienced with my characters thrills me like nothing else.
IR– What is the first book that you remember reading?
KLP– I started reading from an early age, thanks to a mom that dragged me to the library every place we lived. I cannot pinpoint a first one, but I remember at age 10, reading a series that changed my life. Trite as this may be, it was “Pollyanna.” These stories about Pollyanna, the child of missionaries waiting with glee for a barrel of donated goodies, taught me the power of words. Pollyanna played something called the ‘Glad Game.’ When things were tough, as they often were, she would tilt over the circumstance and find something to be glad about instead. It was a wonderful, wake-up call for me as a child, to discover I could be optimistic in the face of rejection, despair, disappointment, or failure. The power of words, i.e. stories; is a wonderful thing.
IR– What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
KLP– Go to writing conferences that are dedicated to the genre in which you want to write. Learn what differentiates one genre from another…this is so very important. Join a writing club in your area, there are many. Listen to published writers that do seminars on Zoom or in person. Don’t expect your first draft to be any good at all…it takes several edits to refine it. Don’t give up. Explore the industry, look up publishers and submissions guidelines. Read these publishers’ blogs. There is a wealth of information there. Do your research before submitting anything, all the instructions to submit to each publisher are unique to that publisher. I’d suggest a professional edit on the first manuscript before sending out.
IR– What are you working on in the near future?
KLP– Book Three in the Olivia Callahan Suspense series! And I’m exploring an idea to write a psychological suspense series set in the Carolinas. Also, the possibility of a Book Four and Five for Olivia.
IR– What are your top 5 favorite books or authors?
KLP– “The Gift” by Louise Jensen
“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
“61 Hours” by Lee Child
“Her Three Lives” by Cate Hollahan
“The Testament” by John Grisham
IR– Name three fun facts about you or your work.
- I name many of my characters with the baby names I selected for my four kids but did not use!
- I love cats and have had one as far back as I can remember. Right now, I have two.
- My husband and I met online and found out we’d gone to the same college, at the same time, but had never met. Also, the last four digits of our socials are the same. Coincidence? I think not.
by Kerry L Peresta
May 1-31, 2022
Virtual Book Tour
Just as the pieces of her life start falling into place, she stumbles across the still-warm body of an old friend who has been gruesomely murdered. Her dream of pursuing a peaceful existence is shattered when she learns the killer left evidence behind to implicate her in the murder. The only person that would want to sabotage her is Monty—but he’s in prison! Something sinister is going on, and Olivia is desperate to uncover the truth before another senseless murder is committed.
After an assault that landed her in a hospital as a Jane Doe two years earlier, Olivia Callahan has regained her speech, movement, and much of the memory she lost due to a traumatic brain injury. The media hype about the incident has faded away, and Olivia is ready to rebuild her life, but her therapist insists she must continue to look back in order to move forward. The only person that can help her recall specifics is her abusive ex-husband, Monty, who is in prison for murder. The thought of talking to Monty makes her skin crawl, but for her daughters’ sake and her own sanity, she must learn more about who she was before the attack.
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Suspense, Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 168512092X (ISBN-13: 978-1685120924)
Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense, Book 2
Read an excerpt:
Kerry’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” (2009—2011), and magazine articles in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of three published novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, The Deadening, Book One of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series, and The Rising, Book Two. Book Three in this series releases in 2023 by Level Best Books. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, editor, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, South Carolina Writers Association, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island, SC, in 2015. She is the mother of four adult children, and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who remind her what life is all about.
Catch Up With Kerry L Peresta:
BookBub – @kerryperesta
Instagram – @kerryperesta
Twitter – @kerryperesta
Facebook – @klperesta
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