After two suspense novels featuring New York City freelance reporter Ridley Jones, Beautiful Lies and Sliver of Truth, Lisa Unger tries her hand at a stand-alone thriller, Black Out.

What made you decide to try a stand-alone?

I never thought of the Ridley Jones books as a series. I finished Beautiful Lies and knew there were a lot of unanswered questions, but I figured, that’s life. Ridley lives to fight another day, and that’s the important thing. I continued on with her in Sliver of Truth simply because I couldn’t stop hearing her voice. My process is less about conscious choice than it is about listening to the voices, following the images in my head.

Why did you choose to set Black Out in Florida rather than New York?

New York City is the place I know best. If I close my eyes, I can hear it and smell it and feel it. But Florida occupies a space in my heart, too, now. If New York is in your face, an assault on all of your senses, Florida slowly wraps itself around you like a clinging vine. For all its kitsch and sunshine, Florida has a dark and feral center that really appeals to me.

What interests you about characters struggling with identity issues?

It’s the ultimate mystery. Who am I? How did I become this person? These were questions very much on my mind when I began Beautiful Lies. Of course, Annie [the heroine of Black Out] suffers from a more intense case of fractured identity than Ridley, and she’s also a mother. I also found Annie intriguing because she’s not entirely innocent. She’s not this pseudosavvy yet somehow naïve, city girl like Ridley, who just stumbled into trouble.

Do you enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers?

I fell in love early with books like Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White. But I’ve always been a bit of a literary omnivore. Truman Capote, Ayn Rand, John Irving, Gabriel García Márquez are some of my lifelong favorites.

What are you working on now? Will Ridley be back?

The book I’m working on now is a thriller, naturally. But start talking about an unfinished book and it never gets written. I really don’t know if or when there will be another Ridley Jones novel. I still think about her a lot and the unresolved issues intrigue me, even nag at me a little bit. I think there’s a lot more to say, but something about this new book was more urgent, a stronger voice that drowned out the others.