Author Spotlight: Sara Driscoll
We love getting to know authors and today we get two-for-one! Meet Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, the brains behind author Sara Driscoll. Together the pair penned the mystery Lone Wolf, available later this month. It's book one in their brand new FBI K-9 series featuring FBI agent Meg Jennings and her labrador partner, Hawk. Before you crack open the book, let's get to know Jen and Ann!
Name: Collectively writing under the pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, we’re really the writing team of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan. We’re sharing the author spotlight today.
Book: Lone Wolf
Series: FBI K-9s
Home: Burlington, Ontario (Jen) and Round Rock, Texas (Ann)
Ann: Chalybeate — mineral springs containing iron salts. When I lived in West Virginia, I was very near both the Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, WV, and Sweet Chalybeate Springs in Sweet Chalybeate, VA. Both were incredibly beautiful locations.
Was this the first full-length novel you ever wrote? Dead, Without a Stone to Tell It, the first book in the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries, was the first professional novel we wrote together. We wrote a few practice novels before that, but they’ll stay in the trunk where they belong.
Tell us about your day job (current or former):
Jen: Unlike Ann, who is officially retired from the daily grind (lucky girl!), I still work full time. I’m the laboratory manager of an infectious diseases lab at a Canadian university, where we study influenza, dengue fever, West Nile and a number of other pathogen-related diseases. My other full-time job of writing has to fit in around my 40-hour work week, meaning during lunch hours, evenings and weekends. It keeps me out of trouble!
Ann: I keep the books and do the financials for a local animal rescue and work as the handler of a therapy and nosework dog, all while taking care of five dogs and writing.
How did you start writing?
Jen: I’d written for fun when I was a teenager, but gave it up for about 25 years while I went to university, got married, and started a family. But when my daughters got older and I had a little more free time, the writing bug came back. I was writing for fun and posting material on line when Ann introduced herself to correct me when I made an error. Funny, the gun control-loving Canadian was corrected by a gun owning-Texan who actually knew what she was talking about (as opposed to me, who was clearly making things up as she went along). That started a conversation between us. At first Ann helped out by beta reading my material, but then became so active in editing and plotting suggestions, that we started working on stories together right from the beginning. That partnership still stands today. We do story and character planning together, then I write, Ann rips it apart, and then we put it back together as a team. It’s a process that totally works for us.
What was it like when you got "The Call"?
Jen: It’s a rare thing, when our agent, Nicole Resciniti from The Seymour Agency, calls me at work to interrupt my day job. When that happens, either something has gone very wrong, or very right. In this case, it was very right. We’d started this project with Nicole after she’d had lunch with Peter Sentfleben from Kensington Publishing, and they’d discussed how Peter would love to see a police procedural with a K-9 aspect. Due to Ann’s significant experience as a dog rescuer and trainer, we knew this was a project that was right up our alley. So we put together a proposal, Nicole submitted it, and we prepared to hear something about it months later because publishing can be slow and the holidays were approaching. But it was only a matter of weeks before we heard back from Peter expressing his interest. He had some suggestions to strengthen the story, so we worked with him for a few weeks and then he took it to editorial board. That call from Nicole that day in the lab was their offer of a three-book, hardcover deal. Needless to say, we were over the moon!
What's your favorite paragraph in Lone Wolf? The following paragraph is taken from one of the search scenes in Lone Wolf. We love it because it really highlights not only the vital connection between FBI handler Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue black Labrador, Hawk, but the strength and endurance required to do the job successfully.
Up to this point, tracking a suspect was very much like tracking a missing person, but now the two tasks diverged. Normally, if they were tracking a lost child or hiker, she’d be calling the person’s name every thirty seconds. Instead, silence and surprise were imperative in this situation. Using hand signals, she kept Hawk closer to her and paused every fifteen or twenty feet to listen intently. Hawk, familiar with this aspect of the search process, often looked back to her for instruction and would stand very still during those listening moments. But only the sound of their own labored breathing reached her ears.
Anything you'd like to add? We’ve just finished the manuscript for the second book in the series, Before It’s Too Late, and we’re really excited about it. It’s part mystery, part thriller, and not only brings back Meg and Hawk, but also a lot of the secondary characters we met in Lone Wolf. It’s going to be a fun ride!
Lone Wolf will be available in digital and print on November 29. Digital copies start at $9.99, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | Omni Lit, or find a print copy in your local bookstore on IndieBound. And for more mysterious reads, be sure to stop by our Everything Mystery page!