Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Showcase/Review: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

Happy Pub Day to Jennifer on her release of 

The One I Left Behind

Bestselling author Jennifer McMahon is back with a gut-wrenching mystery about an architect whose troubled mother has been found 25 years after being kidnapped-by a killer who is still on the loose.

The summer of 1985 changed Reggie's life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school's outcasts-Charlie, the local detective's son, and Tara, a goth kid who has a mental hold over Reggie and harbors a dark secret. That same summer a serial killer called Neptune begins kidnapping women. He leaves their severed hands on the police department steps and, five days later, displays their bodies around town. Just when Reggie needs her mother Vera-an ex-model with many "boyfriends" and a thirst for gin-the most, Vera's hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there's no body and Neptune disappears.

Now a successful architect who left her hometown behind after that horrific summer, Reggie doesn't trust anyone and lives with few attachments. But when she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.

With her signature style, Jennifer McMahon portrays the dark side of adolescent friendship and introduces characters who haunt the imagination, along with a disturbing web of secrets, betrayals, and murder.

Another hit by McMahon.  I fell in love with her writing with Don't Breath a Word and I have loved every book since.  In The One I left Behind the story starts out super spooky and hooks you from page one.  The story is intense, mysterious and a real page turner. You will read characters you relate to and will be taken on an intense ride.  There is evil, red herrings, false leads and brilliant writing.  The story flipping from past to present from Reggie's point of view adds such depth to the story.  It is simply an amazing story that will leave you with your jaw dropping in surprise.  Another 5 star hit!

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.  I find inspiration everywhere: in snippets of conversation I overhear in the grocery store, watching my daughter play, things people say on late-night talk radio, something odd I happen to see while driving down the highway.  I think I tend to be most inspired by things that puzzle and frighten me; the things that keep me awake late at night, tossing and turning.  Some people say "write what you know."  I say, "Write what scares you."

Q.  You write such original and creative books, where do your ideas come from?

A.I tend to start a book with a single idea or image.  Sometimes, these ideas come to me in dreams.  I always keep a notebook by my bed to write down any ideas that may come.  My books Dismantled and Don't Breathe a Word were both inspired by dreams.  The One I Left Behind began when I was looking at carton of milk one morning and thought, "Wouldn't it be horrifying to find a milk carton somewhere, open it up and find a woman's hand inside?"  Then my mind started going and I thought, "It's not just one hand, but several.  They're the work of a serial killer!  But who are the women?  And who is the killer?  Why does he or she cut off the hands?"  And I had to start writing to find all this out.  

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

A. The days when the work is going well and I'm totally lost inside this world I've created.  It's also really amazing to hear from readers, particularly those who say they aren't big readers, but they loved my book and it left them wanting to read more!  I'll also admit to getting a certain twisted thrill when I hear someone had to sleep with the lights on after finishing one of my books!

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

A. For me, it's juggling writing with all the other work I need to do to help my books get noticed: book tours, conferences, speaking engagements, interviews, Facebook... sometimes all of that can feel like a full time job and it's tricky to find the time to actually write.  I'm always struggling to find that balance; that magical place where I'm creating new work I'm happy with, and also doing what I need to spread the word about my books.  

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

A.I have a fantasies of being a farmer -- vegetables, chickens and sheep.  But I know how hard farming is and I think I'd be too lazy to be truly good at it.  

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  Hm, how about "Write What Scares You"?

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A. To Kill a Mockingbird -- it's the book that made me want to be a writer. 

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A. The Little Engine that Could

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?

A.That's a tough one.  I think there are bits and pieces of me in all of my characters, even the villains.  There's a lot of me and pieces of my life in Reggie in The One I Left Behind, though I think she's a lot more closed off and uptight than I am.   In some ways, I feel closest to Kate Cypher in Promise Not to Tell -- I think maybe because it was my first book and the only one I wrote in first person.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A.  Fall, definitely.  You can smell change in the air.  And Halloween is my favorite holiday -- the day when the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living is the thinnest. 

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  And/or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A. I've been lucky -- my publisher has always put together great covers for me.  I hear from a lot of people who say they pick up my books because they felt the girls on the covers staring at them from across the room!   I love it!

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A.  I've always got one or two books going.  The book I'm working on now is a bit different.  Parts of it take place in the early 1900's.  And I think it's the scariest thing I've written.  Also, it's the first book I've done that's set in winter, which has been great fun.  That's about all I can say for now.  

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  If folks are interested in checking out my writing, they can read the first two chapters of THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND on my Facebook Author page:   But most of all, thank you for reading!


Promise Not to Tell

Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who's afflicted with Alzheimer's. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered--a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate's childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del--shunned and derided by classmates as "Potato Girl"--was brutally slain. Del's killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

More than just a murder mystery, Jennifer McMahon's extraordinary debut novel, Promise Not to Tell, is a story of friendship and family, devotion and betrayal--tautly written, deeply insightful, beautifully evocative, and utterly unforgettable.

Don't Breathe a Word

On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn't fear the dark and doesn't have bad dreams--who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam's hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed--a promise that could destroy them all.

Island of Lost Girls

While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

From the author of the acclaimed Promise Not to Tell comes a chilling and mesmerizing tale of shattered innocence, guilt, and ultimate redemption.


The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Island of Lost Girls and Promise Not to Tell returns with a chilling novel in which the secrets of the past come back to haunt a group of friends in terrifying ways.

Dismantlement = Freedom

Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto--"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"--these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz's death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour's drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn't ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide--apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard--it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.

Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die--or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?

Full of white-knuckle tension with deeply human characters caught in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer McMahon's gripping story and spine-tingling plot prove that she is a master at weaving the fear of the supernatural with the stark realities of life.

My Tiki Girl

Maggie was looking for a friend in Dahlia. She never guessed she?d find love, too. All the tenth-grade girls hate Dahlia Wainwright?a smart, natural beauty and freaky outsider all in one. And that's "exactly" what Maggie Keller is drawn to, for she herself is an outsider, having withdrawn from the high school elite crowd after a car accident that killed her mother?an accident for which she blames herself. But Dahlia's friendship?a manic journey into new identities and outrageous behavior? transforms Maggie in ways she could never have imagined. In her stunning first young adult novel, bestselling adult author Jennifer McMahon paints a lush portrait of the healing power of love.

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