Lisa Malice releases Lest She Forget
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner
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Lest She Forget by Lisa Malice
Haunted by a forgotten past. Hunted by a ruthless killer. No one to save her but herself.
After surviving a car crash, Kay Smith wakes from a coma with amnesia, a battered face, and no one to vouch for her identity. Her psychiatrist is convinced that her memory loss is connected to the horrific flashbacks and nightmares haunting her. As she digs for clues to her past, Kay uncovers a shady character following her every inquiry.
Who is he? And what does he want from her?
As Kay’s probes deepen, she realizes that everyone around her has deadly secrets to hide—even her. Emerging memories, guilty suspicions, and headline-screaming murders push Kay to come out of the shadows and choose: will she perpetuate a horrendous lie or risk her life to uncover the truth?
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: December 2023
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780744307153 (ISBN10: 0744307155)
To purchase Lest She Forget, click on any of the following links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | CamCat Books
Lisa Malice — Author of Lest She Forget — The Interview
Lest She Forget centers on Kay Smith, who wakes from a coma with amnesia. What drew you to write about someone who can’t remember her past?
I was at the gym, watching TV while pumping away on the elliptical machine, when an ad for identity theft appeared on the screen that sparked a series of “what-if” questions.
Each answer led me to another question until I had the bones of a thriller in my head that had nothing to do with identity theft but did include a woman who awoke from a coma with no recollection of her identity or past.
As my first book, I followed a similar path in writing, one idea leading to another until I typed “The End.”
Lest She Forget is written using multiple points of view and different tenses. What drew you to having more than one character tell this story?
Kay’s POV is told from the first-person POV because it’s a psychological thriller. We need to be in her head, with everything she is seeing, sensing, experiencing, feeling and thinking. Her story is told in present-tense to reflect her reality—she has no past to remember, and going forward, everything is in the moment, experienced as it happens.
Kay would come across as a bit off her rocker without Felix Jager’s POV, which is told via third-person past-tense. His story is a key element to building mystery, thrills, and suspense throughout the book.
We know he’s out there from the very first scene wherein he forces our heroine off the road into an icy river and leaves her for dead. In his first stand-alone chapter, this POV offers readers Felix’s background without having to glean it from his thoughts and actions. The reader learns this hired killer is ruthless and intelligent, but not as smart as he thinks he is, and more importantly, not as smart as he thinks others are stupid. It’s a profile of a dangerous narcissist that makes this hitman a formidable foe, though one with flaws that open him up to defeat by the heroine in the end.
Felix’s past-tense POV also allowed me to simply refer to the violence he exacted on those he murdered and keep blood and gore off the page. His scenes also lend themselves more action, more suspense, and more mystery to the ultimate villain—the man who gave our hitman the order to kill Kay at all costs.
Finally, Felix’s POV scenes add suspense to Kay’s scenes, keeping us rooting for her to uncover the truth, as she continues to speculate erroneously on the horrors behind her nightmares, flashbacks, emerging memories, and the man shadowing her every move.
What was your publishing road like for your debut novel, Lest She Forget?
My first draft was a mess, so I spent the next few years editing until I thought the manuscript was ready for the big time. My queries received a lot of interest from agents and acquisitions editors, but the rejections told me I had more work to do.
An editor I met at ITW’s Pitchfest referred me to a wonderful developmental editor, Anne Brewer, who had worked for St. Martin’s Press and Crooked Lane. I paid for a critique to start. The story had a few big structural issues, so I dug deep into my pockets for a full developmental edit. Anne was very impressed with my revisions, so I restarted agent and editor queries.
Within a few a few months, I had an agent. One acquisitions editor suggested I revised the first two chapters to open with live action. I did. Two offers came in after that revision. I signed with CamCat and started the final editing process with Helga Schier, CamCat’s fabulous editor-in-chief, tweaking the characters and the plot of Lest She Forget until the story was the best it could be.
Overall, the developmental editing process was great fun and really helped me be a better writer! The first draft of my second novel, Rock-A-Bye Baby, is proof that going through that initial process greatly improved my storytelling skills—it received finalist honors for Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award in 2020, a competition for unpublished manuscripts.
Tell us about the debut process for you.
The debut process for me started when I received my offer.
It was the first day of Killer Nashville, a conference I had attended every year since 2013, along with so many of the same authors year after year. I had connected with Sue Arroyo, CamCat’s CEO and founder, the week before to let her know I had submitted my novel for consideration and was eager to meet her at the conference.
Sue gave me my offer that first day at lunch. The rest of the weekend, surrounded by so many friends who were excited for me, was so special. Since then, my debut experience has been a whirlwind of excitement, fun, and hard work.
After signing my contract, I hit the ground running going through my manuscript one more time before submitting it to the chief editor for a development edit. Meanwhile, I worked with the staff to conceptualize the cover. We worked through three ideas to start, whittled it down to one, then tweaked the design until it was perfect. (People love the cover, proving that process worked well.)
At the same time, I suggested we retitle the book. I brainstormed a couple dozen and submitted the list to my editor and her staff noting my favorite. The staff agreed on my choice, so Don’t Look Back, an old over-used title, became Lest She Forget, a unique title never used.
The editing process came next, working through my editor’s ideas and suggestion to make Lest She Forget the best it could be. Lots of work, but fun and exhilarating.
With ARCs finally on the way. I drew up a list of all the authors I knew to solicit blurbs. I went after the bestselling thriller authors I knew personally first (if you don’t ask, they can’t say “yes”), followed up with authors who I knew from my volunteer work (hosting SinC webinars, writing for ITW’s “The Big Thrill”), then added friends who write thrillers. I ended up with great blurbs from amazing authors.
Now, only weeks away from the release of Lest She Forget, I have to confess that being a debut author—as amazing it is to finally call myself that—has been a bit overwhelming with regard to the amount of work involved in the months leading up to the release of my book. The virtual book tour with Partners in Crime (arranged by my publisher) has kept me busy writing guest blogs, answering interview questions, and making in-person and virtual author appearances.
My efforts outside of my publisher have been more fruitful. Through my college alumni groups I’ve landed interviews, webinars, author appearances, and feature articles. My author network has me writing guest blogs and appearing on virtual book club meetings, even a local TV show. I’m planning launch parties and bookstore appearances in three cities. And everything I plan and do needs to be promoted with social media posts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found these marketing and PR opportunities exhilarating and fun. But this flurry of activity is something I did not expect, as I never thought to ask my fellow authors about this phase of my debut publishing experience. So, for you debut authors out there reading this, be prepared! Start brainstorming and writing blog posts now. Work on interview questions as soon as you get them. Look to your network early on for opportunities that they can provide and go for it!
When you aren’t inside reading and writing thrillers, you enjoy the great outdoors. Tell us about some of your favorite outdoor hobbies/locations:
I grew up in Minnesota, known for its thousands of lakes, as well as its cold winters, so summers were spent fishing, fishing, swimming, and boating at our family cabin, while school vacations were spent enjoying the beaches of Florida.
My husband, Lou, and I raised our own family in Atlanta but spent our vacations scuba diving and sailing around the world. When my husband retired, the logical place to settle in for the rest of our lives was the Gulf Coast of Florida on a canal with quick access to the open water for our pontoon and sail boats. The fishing in our little coast north of Tampa is quite different from bobber fishing with worms and live bait in Minnesota; the fish here are quick to snatch off our shrimp and other fresh bait before we can hook them; we end of feeding the fish more than they feed us.
Lou and I love to anchor our boats along the coast of Anclote Key, an uninhabited island and state park a few miles off-shore from the Florida mainland. We spend afternoons with family and friends picnicking, fishing, swimming, and walking the beach, and collecting shells. (To be honest, I’m a compulsive conchologist, a fancy word for someone compelled to stroll every sandy shore she encounters in search of seashells to add to her vast collection boxed up and gathering dust in spare closet; I acquired this compulsion from my mother, along with my passion for everything mystery.)
Lou and I also enjoy golfing with family and friends, which is easy and cheap in Florida with courses everywhere around us.
What are you working on now?
I have so many ideas percolating inside my brain. One is the story of a lymphoma patient, suffering from bizarre hallucinations from the tumor growing in her head, who believes she has witnessed the murder of another patient in her ward (an idea that came to me while visiting my brother in the hospital – his chemo is going great!).
Another story gnawing at me is about a young woman, a forensic psychology student at a small college town, who comes to fear her own father may be the serial strangler taking the lives of her classmates.
For now, I’m finishing up the story of a young woman (Evie), a resident of small town in northeastern Georgia, who arrives home late one night from a conference and discovers a dead woman in her office. The eerie resemblance between Evie and the apparent murder victim raises a frightening question: Who was the intended target, this unknown woman or Evie?
As sirens wail in the distance, she is unsure who she can trust—the baseball cap found at the scene suggests the killer might be connected to the county sheriff’s office. The plot involves decades-old crimes centered on a local doctor and an under-the-radar illegal adoption ring.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
I offer the same sage advice offered to me by New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews, who I credit with setting me on the “write” road when we met at a library luncheon in 2012. She told me to join three writers’ groups that would help me learn how to write and publish crime fiction, Sisters in Crime (SinC), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Romance Writers of America (RWA). I did, the very next day.
In due course, I joined International Thriller Writers (ITW) and The Authors Guild (AG) and attended conferences—Killer Nashville, Bouchercon, Thrillerfest—that further energized my efforts toward publication.
Mary Kay’s advice was spot on. Each organization or event offered different programs and opportunities for me to grow as a writer—interesting meeting speakers, workshops, webinars, digital access to educational programs, and most importantly, the invaluable opportunity to connect, learn from, and make great friends with writers locally and across the country, from those just starting to put words on the page to those who’ve sold millions of books worldwide.
More importantly, I urge aspiring writers to give of yourself to your writing community. Support other authors as they write and publish their works. Lend a hand with them in support of professional writers’ organizations and events, and they will do the same for you.
I know what I’m talking about, because I’m a compulsive volunteer, all too willing to jump in and help when I see a need, and my efforts have been eagerly welcomed—and reciprocated. In the end, earning the label as a “well-connected author” (as my publisher, CamCat, notes in the sell-sheet for Lest She Forget) allows you to stand out from the crowded field of aspiring authors when it is time to sell your book to an agent, a publisher, and the booksellers.
Don’t miss Lisa’s excellent guest post for her Partners in Crime Book Tour! Click the link here.
Author Pet Corner!
I have two granddoggies in my life. My daughter rescued Pepper from a local animal shelter, but it was this sweet little 1 ½-year-old pup that rescued us.
Now 5 years-old, Pepper has the coloring of a Boston Terrier and the physique of a pointer and the personality of retriever. She is very loving, energetic, and fun to play ball with—especially when the pool is warm enough for her to dive after her toys after you toss them in the water.
Koda is my future son-in-law’s (April 2024 wedding) mellow chestnut retriever/lab mix.
She is a beautiful nine-year-old with big expressive eyes that always seem to be saying, “Feed me!”
Lisa Malice earned her B.S. in psychology at the University of Minnesota, her M.S. and Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her debut novel, Lest She Forget, a psychological thriller, was a finalist in five unpublished manuscript contests.
Lisa is an active member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild.
A native of Minnesota, Lisa lived in the Atlanta area with her husband for nearly thirty years before moving to the Tampa area in 2019 to enjoy a life of sailing, fishing, and shelling on the Florida Gulf Coast. They have two adult children and a granddog.
Find out more about Lisa by clicking any of the following links: Website, Goodreads, Instagram, X, Facebook.
Header image from Pixabay.