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Lisa Unger  

New York Times and Internationally Best-selling author of Twelve Novels.

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of 11 novels, which have been translated into twenty-six languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Her work has been hailed as “stellar” (USA Today), “sensational” (Publishers Weekly), “sophisticated” (New York Daily News) and with a “gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose” (Associated Press).

Unger never wanted to do anything but write. Reading was her first love, and it wasn’t long before she realized that she had a strong desire to put pen to paper and create stories. But she never thought it was a viable career, mostly because her father told her so. It was a nice hobby, not a real job, he said. So, even though she spent most of her life studying writing and literature, winning awards and scholarships for her short stories and essays, and began her first novel at the age of 19, when she graduated college she sought a real job.

Naturally, she wound up in publishing. And she spent the next ten years climbing the corporate ladder in the publicity department of a major New York publishing company. During this time, she worked quietly on her 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, she was quite good at her job. (even though she didn’t always pay attention in meetings). It kept getting bigger and bigger, while her time writing got smaller and smaller. Until one day she realized that she wasn’t writing at all.

She had an epiphany. Unger knew that unless she got serious about her writing, there would come a day when she would have to say to herself: You know what? You never even tried. And she couldn’t live with that. So, she did the only thing writers really need to do. Unger wrote, every day, no matter what. And she finally finished the novel she began at age 19. She was 29 years old.

Right around that time, she met her husband Jeffrey at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West. And within six months of meeting him, he had proposed, they had both quit their big corporate jobs, sold their homes, and moved to Florida. Before she left the city, Unger sent her manuscript to her top choice agents, and said a prayer. She’d sold her Brooklyn Heights apartment, deciding to use the money to give herself a year to write another novel and sell the one she’d written. She figured that the planets had aligned and it was time to go for it. Her father thought she’d lost her mind. This is an uncalculated risk, he told her. So it was.

Luckily, Unger was signed on by one of those agents. And within a few months, her 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 Unger knew that a publishing contract wasn’t an end to the journey, rather a new beginning. It was time to roll up her sleeves and get to work. She didn’t have a news making advance or a lot of buzz, she just had her passion for her work, and a quality that makes up for almost any shortfall – sheer, never-say-die, tenacity.

Her 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. Unger writes about crime because in exploring the dark side of human nature, she believes that she 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 her novels. Each new story attempts to answer questions Unger has about people and the world. And each novel springs from a deeply personal place within her.

A warm, witty and accessible speaker, Unger presents on a variety of topics, including her journey from aspiring writer to published author. This talk generally centers around her current book, and touches on themes of following your dreams, losing your path and finding your way back again, finding a balance between work and motherhood, and overcoming obstacles. She also speaks regularly about the craft, the mind of a fiction writer, and topics related to the business of publishing. But usually her talks contain a little bit of all of these things and are always concluded with a rousing Q&A session. She is a very passionate speaker, who inspires her audience with her deep love of story, which she believes is the best way to explore, understand and discuss life itself. Invariably, people in the audience want to know: What does your father think now? To which she answers: I think he’s just happy he doesn’t have to support me.

Unger’s novel In the Blood will release from Simon and Schuster Touchstone in January 2014. Kirkus says, “another scary winner from an accomplished pro.” Linda Fairstein calls it “dark and haunting.” And Dennis Lehane says that it’s an “absolute corker of a thriller that cements Lisa Unger’s status as one of the brightest stars in the game.”


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