A.J. Banner is the author of the new psychological suspense novel The Poison Garden. Her other novels include The Good Neighbor and After Nightfall. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Q: You said in our previous interview, "I have no idea where I get my ideas" for your books. Was that the case this time around too?
A: The sociopath I knew in my college years might have given me the idea (subconsciously) for the killer in The Poison Garden. I'm sure that dangerous encounter from my past will sneak into future books as well. Diabolical, narcissistic personalities make novels of psychological suspense so much more exciting, don’t you think?
Q: Poison plays a big role in the novel. Did you need to do much research to write the book?
A: For research, I loved reading Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, a fascinating A-Z rundown of plants that intoxicate, incapacitate or kill people. I also interviewed Karyn Schwartz, delightful and fascinating proprietor of SugarPill Apothecary in Seattle. She knows a lot about herbs!
For The Poison Garden, I created a fictional herb, the Juliet plant, with some unusual properties!
Q: On your website, you say you're a fan of Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Do any or all of these inspire you as you work on your own writing?
A: Definitely, all! The Poison Garden combines atmospheric elements (similar to du Maurier) with a mystery to be solved (a la Christie) and a few Hitchcockian twists!
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
A: I hope The Poison Garden keeps people turning the pages late into the night, eager to know what happens next. I want readers to be entertained and to hop aboard for a twisty ride. The storyline is dreamlike in some places, but that’s intentional. The main character has a history of sleepwalking!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m writing another novel of psychological fiction in which the main character’s past, and the people she thinks she knows, are not quite what they seem. But that’s all I can say about it!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I love to hear from readers! Please contact me through my website, which also has links to my Facebook and Instagram pages Thank you!!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with A.J. Banner.