Today, it is my absolute pleasure to talk to you about the new novel by Lisa Unger. UNDER MY SKIN is a gripping and captivating novel and I’d like to thank Lucy Richardson and HQ for providing me with a copy of the book. I’d also like to thank Lisa Unger for answering a few questions.
Publication: 2nd October 2018 (eBook), 18th October 2018 (paperback) – HQ
Her husband’s killer may be closer than she thinks…
It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run. She’s trying to move on but what happened that morning is still haunting her. And now she’s sure she is being followed…
Sleep deprived and secretly self-medicating, Poppy is unable to separate her dreams from reality. She feels like she’s losing her mind. But what if she’s not? What if she’s actually remembering what really happened? What if her husband wasn’t who he said he was? And what if his killer is still watching her…
UNDER MY SKIN kept me completely hooked from the first to the last page. I couldn’t stop reading it and Lisa Unger made sure I couldn’t by ending each chapter with a revelation or a cliffhanger that made me say: “Just another chapter!”.
Poppy Lang is a professional photographer with her own successful agency of photographers. She lives in New York City, in a beautiful and modern flat in Chelsea. She goes on online dates with handsome men and, from the outside, her life seems perfect. But Poppy is grieving. A year earlier, her husband Jack was killed while he was jogging in the park. The police think it was a mugging gone wrong, but the killer was never found and Poppy is still looking for the truth, even though there is someone who doesn’t want her to find it.
I do love unreliable characters in thrillers and Poppy is the true definition of an unreliable character: she is on pills, she drinks alcohol, and she is sleep-deprived. She drifts between reality, dream, and repressed memories. Since the story is told in first person by Poppy, we, the readers, are inside Poppy’s head. We know what she thinks, what she feels, what she sees, and, like her, we don’t know what is real, what is the product of her sleep-deprived mind, and what are memories from a past that she can’t remember.
The uncertainty of what is really going on keeps the tension always high and kept me on the edge of my seat. Among the twists and the suspense, I found also some emotional moments. It was heartbreaking reading about Poppy’s grief, her pain over the loss of the man she loved and their future together, as she replays imaginary scenarios in which if she had gone jogging with him, if he had taken a different route, he may still be alive. I actually shed a few tears.
UNDER MY SKIN is very well-written and suspenseful, it’s full of twists and surprises. It is a superb, immersive, and compulsive read that kept me glued to the page and I can’t wait to read whatever Lisa Unger is writing next.
Below, read my Q&A with Lisa Unger:
How did you come up with the idea for UNDER MY SKIN? Did you do any specific research for the book?
The idea for a novel can come from anywhere. It might be a news story, a photograph, even, in one case, a piece of junk mail. For UNDER MY SKIN, it was Carl Jung quote: “Between the dreams of day and night, there is not so great a difference.”
This thought kicked around in my head for a while and led to research into sleep, dreams, memory, addiction, and the slippery nature of our perception. A great deal of research goes into all of my novels, and my study of certain subjects is ongoing. I have a continuing obsession with Carl Jung and his work. I have spent a number of years researching trauma, addiction and their impact on perception and behavior. These ideas run through much of my work.
If you have to pick one favourite character from all your books, who would it be and why?
I could never pick a favorite! They are all so different, so important to me. I have love and empathy for each of my characters, even the most deranged among them. There are a few characters that stay with me and show up again and again in novels. Retired private Detective Jones Cooper tends to show up in books where I didn’t expect him. Eloise Montgomery, the psychic, and her granddaughter Finley are often on my mind; I know their story is not yet finished. There is a novel in the works featuring all of those characters.
Have you ever been stuck while writing one of your books? How did you get over it?
Writing, as with all organic process, ebbs and flows. Some days you can’t stop the pages from coming; sometimes you spend a lot of time staring at the screen or the blank page. If I’m stuck in my narrative, I exercise. I go to the gym, blast some music, and move – or I walk my dog, or do some laundry. This, more often than not, will help me get to the next place in the narrative. Sometimes you have to walk away in order to give your subconscious the space to work things out.
What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I live in Florida, so my life with my family is very centered on the beach and the water. Boating, kayaking, and swimming are favorite activities. We are passionate lovers of story – of course. So reading, theater, and film are big features of our life. I love to cook. I have a yoga practice. We also travel quite extensively, and love exploring the world together.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I have been a literary omnivore since I was a kid – in love with books and film of all types and genres. But I think if I had to pick one author that influenced me more than any other it’s Truman Capote. His short stories are where I fell in love with language. IN COLD BLOOD, a searing true crime book – maybe the first of its kind — taught me that one could write about crime and the dark side of human nature with compassion and with beauty. That book gave me permission to be who I am as a writer.
I also tend to mention REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier when asked this question. That was my first thriller. And the idea of the ordinary young woman caught in a tangle of extraordinary circumstance has been a theme in my work since my early novels.
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on the revisions for my next novel. But I never talk about a book until it’s totally complete. So I’ll have to keep you suspense. After all, that’s my job!
LISA UNGER is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of 15 novels, including the latest psychological thriller THE RED HUNTER.
Her books are published in 26 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Lisa Unger lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.