Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wendy Corsi Staub - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on New York Times bestselling suspense novelist Wendy Corsi Staub. She is a Mystery & Thrillers and Suspense writer.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Suspense, Contemporary

Website: Wendy Corsi Staub
Author's Blog: Wendy Corsi Staub
Twitter: @WendyCorsiStaub
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Author Description:
With the upcoming release of her twenty-first thriller, THE PERFECT STRANGER, New York Times bestselling suspense novelist Wendy Corsi Staub will have published more than eighty novels over the course of her distinguished career. Wendy has twice (2011 and 2013) been nominated for the Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark award and is the recipient of the RWA Rita Award, the RT Bookreviews Award for Career Achievement in Suspense, the RWA/NYC Golden Apple for Lifetime Achievement, four WLA Washington Irving Awards for Fiction, and numerous other honors. All of her adult thrillers and in-print backlist are available on Amazon and most are--or will soon be--available as e-books and audio books as well. Check out the book trailers for THE GOOD SISTER, NIGHTWATCHER, SLEEPWALKER, and SHADOWKILLER, her latest Harpercollins Suspense trilogy, on this author page. Wendy is also a bestselling novelist with the chick lit and romantic comedy published under the pseudonym "Wendy Markham."

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your novella: COLD HEARTED. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called THE PERFECT STRANGER. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you! Yes, THE PERFECT STRANGER goes on sale on July 29th paperbacks and digital books are sold. It’s the second book in my social networking suspense trilogy from HarperCollins. All three of these thrillers stem from the premise that you never know who might be lurking behind a screen name—even a familiar one. The first book, THE GOOD SISTER (Harper, October 2013) was one of Suspense Magazine’s Top Reads of 2013 and is about cyberbullying and featured a fictionalized Facebook site called “PeoplePortal”— instead of Friends, you have Peeps. THE PERFECT STRANGER is about a group of female bloggers who come together in person at a funeral after one of their own is murdered—perhaps by a fellow blogger. The final book in the trilogy, THE BLACK WIDOW (Harper, February 2014), is set against the world of online dating.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Social media proves that word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool there is. I used to rely on my loyal readers spreading the word about my books to a few friends and family members. Now they share it with hundreds, even thousands, of their contacts with a few keystrokes. I tend to think of Twitter as more promotion/information driven, and I do visit forums, send newsletters, and maintain websites, but Facebook is the most personal and enjoyable social media outlet for me. I’m there all the time, interacting with readers, many of whom have since become personal friends. While it was my publicist who encouraged me to start interacting with my fans online, I’ll confess that I now do it as much for personal enjoyment as I do for promotion. Writing can be a lonely business—especially when you’re releasing several books a year. Social media has given me a way to get to know my readers without touring all over the world on a daily basis--although I do continue to tour constantly as well.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I’ll be on the road just about every week for the rest of the summer beginning with Thrillerfest in early July, and I’m releasing a tour schedule any second now on my website at My publisher has arranged a book tour that will take me to several stops in Texas, plus Oklahoma and throughout New York State and Connecticut, and I’ll be at Bouchercon wherever World Mystery convention in southern California in November, too. (For Online contact links, see above.)

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you! Because I’m traditionally published, it’s not particularly hands-on for me and certainly not for my readers. I’m grateful to the art department at HarperCollins—they’re responsible for creating my amazing covers, with some input from the editorial and sales and marketing teams as well as my agent and myself. I hired a graphic designer—who happens to be my older son—to create the cover for my self-published novella COLD HEARTED, and he did such an impressive job that I’ve gotten at least as much positive feedback about this cover as I have for my publishers’ artists’ covers.

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) They look very professional. Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes?

Again—thank you! My trailers are created by Stacey Sypko at Bugworks Productions, and she’s an avid reader and amazingly talented video producer. She reads the manuscript long after it’s written but before the book is published, and we discuss key images that are pivotal to the plot and theme. She runs the stills, music, and rough footage past me and we go back and forth until it looks right.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’ve done book giveaways for years via my contests and charity auctions, etc., and of course my publisher provides review copies to reviewers, bloggers, and media outlets. It’s a great way to create word of mouth. The problem is that often the advance reading copies fall into the hands of people who sell them online—which is illegal and robs the author of important preorders and sales down the road. And of course, random strangers frequently contact me to ask me for free books, apparently under the impression that I have stacks of copies lying around to give away (I don’t), can afford to mail them all over the world out of the goodness of my heart (I can’t), and don’t need to sell them to make a living (I do).

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

At this stage in my career (over two decades and almost 80 published novels), I’ve got it down to a science: multibook contracts (I’ve just signed with HarperCollins to write my fourth consecutive suspense trilogy) begin with my editor’s approval on the first chapter of the first book, a brief (one page or so) synopsis of that plot and a very general outline of where the next two books will go. My publisher handles everything from there—sales, marketing and publicity plans, book tour arrangements, etc. My husband Mark, a former Manhattan advertising executive, is my business manager and is the key liason with my publisher and agents to coordinate efforts on our end.

You are published under two names (Wendy Corsi Staub and Wendy Markham). Does changing hats create any problems? Does moving from one to the other give you a change of pace?

Using a pseudonym was a deliberate decision we made to avoid problems that would have been created in terms of muddying the successful brand I’d already built. Readers knew what to expect from a Wendy Corsi Staub novel—a suspenseful, twist-filled whodunit. I built a second brand and now readers know what to expect from Wendy Markham—a heartwarming, upbeat, often romantic/comedic novel. I only write one book at a time, so I don’t shift back and forth from light to dark on a daily basis and yes, I definitely appreciate the change of pace! It’s draining to dwell on the dark side for months at a time.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

HarperCollins prints bound and electronic ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) and the publicists send them to their list of professional reviewers. They provided me with a dozen copies of THE PERFECT STRANGER, which I gave to a handful of “superfans” and as daily prizes in the weeklong literary scavenger hunt I hosted on my community website last month. My loyal readers know that online reviews improve discoverability and I’m grateful that they’ve been so terrific about posting them!

Tell our readers about your experience with book tour at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas? What was that experience like?

My husband and I were traveling with our boys, who were in the back seat of our rental car as we arrived on the strip. We were lost and trying to find the hotel, and they kept interrupting from the back seat—“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” and I kept shushing them—it was really frustrating. When I finally got us back on track, I turned around and said, “Okay, now you can talk. What?” And they said, “You were on that sign!” I turned around and they were pointing at the gigantic electronic marquis outside the Luxor, which was advertising a sumo wrestling match for that night. I never dreamed they weren’t kidding around—I was like, yeah, sure, ha ha ha. A few minutes later, they shouted again, and sure enough...there I was. My photo, name, and book cover, towering above the Vegas Strip. Because Mandalay Bay was connected to several other casino hotels, all the marquis were advertising the same events, and we saw it everywhere we went. But it was far from a glamorous experience, as most things are in this life. I was just an ordinary mom traveling with young kids, and at one point, we were in a restaurant getting condescending service at a lousy table literally right in the shadow of an enormous billboard with my face on it—a reality check if ever there was one, just in case I had any intention of developing an ego. My husband and I embraced the irony and laugh about it to this day.

Author's Book List
The Perfect Stranger
In New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub's new thriller, one woman finds herself in the crosshairs of a twisted predator who might just be masked behind a familiar screen name . . .

During the darkest period of her life, Landry Wells found solace in a group of bloggers who had been in her shoes and lived to tell the tale. She's shared things with her online friends that even her husband and children didn't know. Things that now, looking back, make her uneasy.

One of the bloggers is dead, victim of a random crime—or was it? Did she trust too easily; reveal too much? At the funeral a thousand miles from home, Landry is about to come face to face at last with the others. These women are her closest confidantes in the world: they understand her; they know everything about her—and one of them might be a cold-blooded killer . . .

Book Trailer: The Perfect Stranger

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Cold Hearted
In this prequel novella to New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub’s psychological suspense novel THE PERFECT STRANGER (Harpercollins, on sale 7/29/14), readers are introduced to the enigmatic Johanna Hart. Abandoned by her teenaged birth mother and raised by callous grandparents, Johanna is determined to escape her bleak Midwest existence at any cost. But that blind ambition comes back to haunt her years later, after she’s reinvented herself as glamorous golden girl Jenna Coeur. Now her secret past has caught up with her, embodied in a calculating young woman who will stop at nothing to destroy her—a woman with a strangely familiar face...

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Good Sister
In New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub's electrifying new thriller,a mother races to save her daughter beforeher darkest nightmare comes true.

Sacred Sisters Catholic girls' school has hardly changed since Jen Archer was a student. Jen hoped her older daughter would thrive here. Instead, shy, studious Carley becomes the target of vicious bullies. But the real danger at Sacred Sisters goes much deeper.

The only person Carley can talk to is "Angel," a kindred spirit she met online. Carley tells Angel everything—about her younger sister, about school, about the sudden death of her former best friend. Angel is her lifeline. And Angel is closer than she knows.

When another schoolgirl is found dead, Jen's unease grows. There are too many coincidences, too many links to her past. Every instinct tells her that Carley is the next target. For someone is intent on punishing the guilty, teaching the ultimate lesson in how to fear . . . And how to die.

Book Trailer: The Good Sister

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She Loves Me Not
She loves me … she loves me not.

When a homemade, heart-shaped valentine with no signature shows up in Rose Larrabee's mailbox, she is surprised to say the least—as a widow and mother of two young children, she has little time for romance. But what one might mistake for a sweet gift is really a terrifying reminder of the secret she shares with two other women … a secret that has deadly consequences.

I want her … I want her dead.

When the phone rings in the middle of the night, playing a song that chills her to the bone, Rose is determined to keep her family safe from the threat she cannot see but knows is out there ... watching. After one of the other women is murdered, it becomes clear that each valentine is not the gift of a secret admirer but a warning from the madman who is getting all too close to the very heart of her deepest, darkest fears …

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Nestled in the warm, domestic cocoon of loving husbandand family, Allison finally feels safe—unaware that astranger's brutal murder on a Caribbean island is the first step in an intricate plan to destroy everything in her life.

For seasoned NYPD Detective Rocky Manzillo, the signs are clear that something terrible has emerged from the shadows:a murder victim left without a face and a faded photograph that yields a startling connection.

Now, as Allison's murky memories of a troubled childhood creep back to light, a cunning predator who shares her history prepares toenact a horrifying retribution—and won't stop killing untilAllison faces a shocking truth . . .and pays the ultimate price.

Book Trailer: Shadowkiller

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Fade to Black
Sometimes secrets can kill . . .

I know who you are. When Elizabeth Baxter reads these words, her world crashes. Five years ago, she was Hollywood superstar Mallory Eden—until a mysterious stalker turned her life into a nightmare. Now she hides in the small town of Windmere Cove, Rhode Island, living in fear, constantly looking over her shoulder . . .

Then her house is ransacked. The phone rings, and no one is on the other end … And very soon Elizabeth realizes she's being hunted again. Her only peace is the solace she's found in the arms of Harper Smith. She longs to tell him the truth—and then she learns of his own secret past … a past that connects to Mallory Eden's.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Lullaby and Goodnight
Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry. . .

At thirty-nine, Peyton Somerset has an enviable life, with a thriving advertising career and a beautiful Manhattan apartment. And now she's going to have the one thing she wants most--a baby. Peyton's biological clock went off just as her fiancé took off, leaving her at the altar. So Peyton's going it alone. Already, she's making plans for the little one inside her. . .buying the layette, daydreaming, and worrying over the littlest things. That's only natural. All mothers do. But Peyton has reason to worry. In fact, she has every reason to be terrified. . .

Mama Won't Be Singing Any Lullabies.

As the months pass, Peyton can't help feeling that something is terribly wrong. She's certain that someone has been in her apartment, that she's being followed, that someone is watching her. Maybe it's just hormonal paranoia that makes her distrust everyone around her. Or maybe her maternal instincts are dead on. Maybe there's someone close who doesn't think she should give birth at all. Someone who would do anything to have a baby. Anything. . .

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Ten years after the catastrophe, a great fallen city has risen again. Ten years after, a horror begins anew . . . or never truly ended.

The nightmare of 9/11 is a distant but still painful memory for Allison Taylor MacKenna—now married to Mack and living in a quiet Westchester suburb. She has moved on with her life ten years after barely escaping death at the hands of New York’s Nightwatcher serial killer. The monster is dead, having recently committed suicide in his prison cell, but something is terribly wrong. Mack has started sleepwalking, with no recollection of where his nighttime excursions are taking him.And here, north of the city, more women are being savagely murdered, their bodies bearing the Nightwatcher’s unmistakable signature.

Suddenly Allison must confront a devastating truth: her life is in jeopardy once again . . . And quite possibly from the man she trusts and loves.

Book Trailer: Sleepwalker

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As the city sleeps in the early hours of September 10, 2001, the killer waits and watches, unaware of the cataclysm to come. Even the nightmare of 9/11 will not postpone his private reign of terror. Allison Taylor adores her adopted city, New York, loving every minute of the invigorating urban hustle. But on a bright and clear September morning, the familiar landscape around her is savagely altered—and in the midst of widespread chaos and fear, a woman living upstairs from her is found, brutally slaughtered and mutilated. For Allison . . . for her neighbor, James "Mack" MacKenna, desperately searching for news of his missing wife . . . for homicide detective Rocky Manzillo, hunting for a monster called "The Nightwatcher" amid the smoking ruins of a devastated city, this tragic day will hold a special horror. Because a different kind of terror has entered their lives . . . and it's coming to claim Allison Taylor as its next victim.


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Dearly Beloved
To have. To hold . . . To die.

On a windswept New England island, he waits, fingering the wedding gowns he's had made for each of them . . . the dresses they will wear when he kills them.

Three women have come to the Bramble Rose Inn. Sandy Cavelli longs to find romance through a personal ad. Liza Danning hopes to land a publishing deal with a reclusive author. And Jennie Towne, masquerading as her own twin, seeks a getaway weekend. They have nothing in common—or so it seems.

Then a storm bears down on the eerie, isolated inn, and the three women are plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. Because someone consumed with revenge has chosen them—for better, for worse . . . 'til death do them part.

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Mike, Mike & Me - Red Dress Ink
Written by Wendy Markham, a pseudonym
Once upon a time in the 1980s, a girl named Beau was torn between two Mikes: did she prefer her high-school sweetheart or the sexy stranger she'd picked up in an airport bar? One she eventually married, the other she left behind (and forgot all about, or tried to, anyway).

But which Mike did she choose? This delightful tale by the bestselling author of Slightly Single and Slightly Settled alternates between the story of Beau's summer of Mikes and the outcome fifteen years later…without giving away which Mike ended up where—in Beau's marriage bed or in her memory.

In "The present" chapters, the former swinging single lives in the 'burbs with a childbirth-traumatized body, an increasingly distant husband and a sad sack maid who isn't much for cleaning. When out of the blue the Mike-not-taken sends her a flirty e-mail, she suddenly finds herself back to square one, trying to decide which man is the Mike of her dreams.

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Slightly Single - Red Dress Ink Novels
Written by Wendy Markham, a pseudonym
A heat wave in Manhattan is enough to drive a girl crazy, and for Tracey Spadolini, a 24-year-old New York transplant who's been "left behind" for the summer, there's even more to sweat about. Her Slightly Significant Other, Will, will be returning from summer stock in September, to pick up where they left off. (Or will he?)

But, in the days after Will's departure, Tracey decides it's time for a reality check. Her un-air-conditioned East Village apartment is a dump, her entry-level ad job sucks, her thighs don't seem to be getting any thinner, and Will seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. So, Tracey, with the help of her friends and one very attentive guy, decides to spend her summer reinventing herself…and taking a chance on liking the new woman she becomes.

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Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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