Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have been translated into twenty-six languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Her body of work is hailed as “stellar” (USA Today), “sensational” (Publishers Weekly) and “sophisticated” (New York Daily News) with “gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose” (Associated Press).
In My Own Words
I never wanted to do anything but write. Reading was my first love, and it wasn’t long before I realized that I had a strong desire to put pen to paper and create stories. But I never thought it was a viable career, mostly because my father told me so. It was a nice hobby, he said. So, even though I spent most of my life studying writing and literature, winning awards and scholarships for my short stories and essays, and began my first novel at the age of 19, when I graduated college I sought a real job.
Naturally, I wound up in publishing. And spent the next ten years climbing the corporate ladder in the publicity department of a major New York publishing company. During this time, I worked quietly on my first novel at home, on the train to and from work, over lunch breaks – and occasionally while sitting in particularly long and boring meetings. Unfortunately, I was quite good at my job. (even though I didn’t always pay attention in meetings). It kept getting bigger and bigger, while my time writing got smaller and smaller. Until one day I realized that I wasn’t writing at all.
I had an epiphany. I knew that unless I got serious about my writing, there would come a day when I would have to say to myself: You know what? You never even tried. And I couldn’t live with that. So, I did the only thing writers really need to do. I wrote, every day, no matter what. And finally finished the novel I began penning at age 19. I was 29 years old.
Right around that time, I met her husband Jeffrey at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West. And within six months of meeting him, he had proposed, we had both quit our big corporate jobs, sold our homes, and moved to Florida. Before I left the city, I sent my manuscript to my top choice agents, and said a prayer. I’d sold my Brooklyn Heights apartment, deciding to use the money to give myself a year to write another novel and sell the one I’d written. I figured that the planets had aligned and it was time to go for it. My father thought I’d lost her mind. This is an uncalculated risk, he told me. So it was.
Luckily, I was signed on by one of those agents. And within a few months, my agent secured a small (very small, like don’t quit your day job small) two-book deal by St. Martin’s Press. The money didn’t matter. It was a dream come true. But I knew that a publishing contract wasn’t an end to the journey, rather a new beginning. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I didn’t have a news making advance or a lot of buzz, I just had my passion for my work, and a quality that makes up for almost any shortfall – sheer, never-say-die, tenacity.
My novels center around strong women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and explore themes such as the power of a single choice, the corrosive nature of secrets and lies, dark family legacies, and the secrets we keep from each other and from ourselves. I write about crime because in exploring the dark side of human nature, I believes that I can delve deep into the human psyche, finding a greater understanding of what moves and motivates us. A fierce curiosity about people – what makes us lie, steal, kill, what makes us heroes, what makes us betray each other, what makes us risk it all to protect and save another person – is what drives my novels. Each new story attempts to answer questions I have about people and the world. And each novel springs from a deeply personal place within me.