With 30 million copies of her novels in print and more than 40 bestsellers to her name—including the smash hit To Die series—Lisa Jackson is a master of taking readers to the edge of sanity and back with her novels of dangerous secrets and deadly passions. Jackson is endlessly enthralled by the minds of killers (and their pursuers), by their twisted motives, and by crafting intricate puzzles for her protagonists and readers to unravel. She loves the way writing suspense novels can become a kind of sparring match with her readers. “I think of it as a game, leading them to the wrong conclusion before the true culprit is unmasked,” she says. “Sometimes I pull it off, but often the reader is a step ahead of me. It’s fun.”
In You Will Pay, Jackson’s imagination is on full display as deadly secrets stir to life 20 years after a summer camp prank goes horribly wrong. “At a summer camp, teenagers are away from their parents’ watchful eyes, and they don’t have the comfort or security of home,” she says. “They’re bound to get into trouble, so if something goes wrong, they’re alone and have to deal with the incident themselves, usually in the woods where it’s creepy, dark and dangerous. What’s not to love about that?”
Jackson also enjoys writing with bestselling author Nancy Bush, her collaborator in the Colony series—and her sister. The two have a profoundly supportive relationship, and their writing lives are deeply intertwined.
“We are very lucky,” Jackson says. “There is little sibling rivalry between us and we rely on each other like partners. We help each other with our individual books, suggesting characters and plot ideas, and maybe even twists.”
The “sisters of suspense” also write with their friend (and Bush’s one-time editor) Rosalind Noonan. The three authors joined forces in 2013 to write their collaborative novel Sinister to much success; their second collaboration, Ominous, due out later this summer, follows three old friends whose long-guarded secret plunges them into a new nightmare.
The process by which the trio writes is fascinating. They plot out the novel in sections, each writer creating her own heroine and writing her individual story line, complete with a romance. They then bring the three stories together “under the umbrella of the mystery arc,” Jackson says. “Each woman’s story is woven into and integral to the others, but it’s told from her viewpoint.”
Ominous, like You Will Pay, jumps around in time, fast-forwarding from a photograph of three teenage girls by a lake one summer who are, unbeknownst to them, being watched. When a teenager goes missing 15 years later, the grown-up girls reunite to trace the haunting connection between their long-ago summer and a killer in the present.
In addition to writing dark suspense novels, Jackson is also involved with a number of charities, including several dedicated to animal rescue, and has three dogs of her own, including Jackie O No, a pug with a very expressive tongue who has become something of a celebrity on social media. Her fervent fans can’t get enough of Jackie O No’s antics, or Jackson’s books.
“I’ve always loved suspense and thrillers; I was over the moon to start writing them,” Jackson says. “I felt like a horse that has seen the sun for the first time upon bolting from the barn. It was and still is very exciting!” With not one but two page-turning blockbusters due this summer, Jackson’s readers have a lot to get excited about.