Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Q&A with A.J. Banner




A.J. Banner is the author of the new novel In Another Light. Her other books include The Good Neighbor. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.


Q: What inspired you to write In Another Light, and how did you create your character Phoebe?


A: I pictured a woman, Phoebe, seeing her lookalike on a mortuary table, but at first, I didn’t know what would come next. Phoebe could’ve been anyone at that point—a detective, a family member, a friend, a medical examiner.


But then I thought, what if Phoebe is a mortician or makeup artist? What if her job is to beautify the decedents, to work on their faces to hide the effects of decay?


Phoebe then needed a reason to keep investigating, to delve into her doppelgänger's background. And to do that, she would need to find evidence connecting herself to the dead woman. But I can’t say more without revealing the plot!


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: My original title was Phoebe Glassman Talks to the Dead, a fun and enticing title for a novel that might contain supernatural elements.


But Phoebe does not actually have conversations with the dead. While ultimately uplifting and hopeful, In Another Light is starkly realistic, depicting the dark, complex aftermath of grief, loss, and betrayal and one woman’s struggle to find her way back into the light.


The brilliant marketing team at Amazon Publishing came up with the title, In Another Light, and I wholeheartedly agree that it's perfect for Phoebe’s journey.    


Q: In a review on, Fiona Cook writes, "What a beautiful, sad, and completely engrossing book this was – A.J. Banner’s In Another Light is certainly a suspenseful thriller, but also a completely engrossing portrayal of long-term grief." What do you think of that assessment?


A: I’m honored and touched by Fiona Cook’s review. Her thoughtful words brought tears to my eyes!


As writers, we never know how readers will respond to our work. We toil away in isolation for months or years, pulling a story from the ether, then revising and revising and hoping in the end to touch readers’ hearts and minds and keep them turning the pages. So a beautiful review like Fiona Cook’s is enormously gratifying.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way? 


A: When I started writing, I had no idea how the novel would end! In fact, each revision involved an entire re-imagining of the storyline.


I truly believe 99 percent of our writing comes from the subconscious mind. We can never know what’s coming. All we can do is keep working and get out of our own way, so that we can allow the creativity to flow.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm writing another twisty story that involves family secrets and personal revelations interwoven with a mystery to solve, set on the wild coast of the Pacific Northwest.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I typed the entire first draft and part of the second draft of In Another Light on my collection of vintage typewriters.


When I use a manual typewriter, I’m not distracted by the internet and notifications, and I lose track of time. I return to the wonder and fun of writing that I enjoyed as a youth when I used a toy typewriter to compose my first short stories.


Also, I’m grateful to all the readers, influencers, bloggers and reviewers out there who love my books. Thank you!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with A.J. Banner.

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