Interview Questions for A COLD DARK PLACE by GREGG OLSEN
Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a big part of your life?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, land of Ted Bundy, serial killer authors galore, so there’s no doubt where I
lived had an influence on my work. I do think the place you’re from (the land, climate, makeup of the
community) charts the course of your writing as much as anything. I like nothing better than a rainy and windy
night along a Pacific Ocean beach. Toss down a few thunderbolts and I’m in heaven. My mom was a voracious
reader – in fact a reader of every genre. The exposure to all types of books was a great gift. Growing up, I
loved stories of the natural world, mysteries, and, of course, true crime.
Can you share your experience of becoming published, and a little about book publishing from a writer’
The shocking true story of being published is that it really is a team effort. Luck and talent can only get you so
far. You have to have a team of people to get that book into the hands of a reader. I’ve been so lucky in that
regard. Getting my first book published (Abandoned Prayers) was amazing. The fact that it still is in print 16
years later? Priceless.
Tell me about your latest novel, A Cold Dark Place, and how you came up with the storyline and title.
I love the “what if” aspect of writing fiction. The little game you play with yourself as you pull apart the pieces
of reality and rearrange them for the reader. The book opens with the discovery of three dead bodies after a
terrible – and unexpected tornado – hits a Washington town. I’ve often wondered about natural catastrophes
and how they’d sometimes been used to cover up a crime. The idea came when I was researching the 1974
Super Outbreak that wreaked havoc over the Midwest and the south with an unprecedented series of
tornadoes. Next to one article I read was the story of an unsolved murder. I played the “what if” game and the
book was born.
Although A Cold Dark Place is fiction, was there any real life inspiration for the story?
With A Wicked Snow, there was the very obvious inspiration of a historical case involving a female serial killer.
Not so this time. There are a few strands of the narrative that were inspired by cases I’ve studied over the
years and I think that’s part of what makes it so compelling and real.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?
I feel my whole career as a true crime author has prepared me for writing crime fiction. I’ve written six true
crime books and those cases run from serial killing, filicide, murder for insurance money and so on. There
probably hasn’t been a type of crime I haven’t covered – and by covering, I mean digging deep into the
subject matter with cops, coroners, FBI agents, and victims’ families.
It seems like female lead characters in thrillers and mysteries are becoming more widespread—do you
think this is the end of the macho male protagonist and why do you think a female lead has become so
That’s a tough one. I’ve basically been swimming in an estrogen pool for the last 20-some years (grown twin
daughters, wife, two dogs – Milo and Suri), so when it came to writing fiction it seemed that taking on a
female lead would probably be a good course of action. I’m a pretty good observer and an even better listener.
A guy in my house would have to be. A female lead all but guarantees the reader that the protagonist will not
only be intelligent and intuitive, but emotionally-connected to the action of any given plotline.
What do you hope readers will take away after reading A Cold Dark Place?
Alex and her love for her daughter Jenna is central to the storyline, and I think it’s their complicated
relationship that propels the narrative. Sure, there’s a serial killer in their midst (and a terrifying one at that),
but it’s the story of a mom’s pursuit to save her daughter that drives us to the end.
What is your biggest highlight in your writing career so far?
Getting onto the New York Times bestseller list was huge, but not the biggest moment. That came recently
when a 31-year-old man came to me and said he hadn’t read a book since high school, but his university made
The Deep Dark required reading for all incoming freshman. He told me he couldn’t put it down, that I brought
him back to reading. Nothing could ever top having that kind of connection with a reader.
What is some of your favorite feedback from readers?
One that really made me smile – and feel like I did a great job – was when a reader of A Wicked Snow told me
that she was so frustrated because she couldn’t find any info on Claire Logan, the serial killer from that novel.
She said she searched the Internet for more details of her crimes, but came up empty-handed. I told her that
the novel was fiction and her face turned red. “Oh, Mr. Olsen, I thought she was real. Well, you made me think
What are you working on now? Will Alex Kenyon be a recurring character?
I’m deep into writing Heart of Ice, the follow up to A Cold Dark Place. And yes, I’m excited to bring back Alex
and Jenna and some of the other characters in a storyline that takes place five years later. As a writer I
continue to grow. With the new book I’m going for scary, sexy, gritty – which now that I think about it sounds
like sleazy sandpaper! And that’s not what I’m going for at all.
What was the last book you read?
I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to reading (thanks, mom!), but lately I’ve been on a mysteries
kick. The book I just finished was Lisa Gardner’s Hide, which I found to be one of those books you carry with
you so you can steal a moment to read a bit more. Scary, believable, and dialogue that rings true. I loved it.
Next on the nightstand is Chelsea Cain’s debut, Heartsick.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?
I raise French Marans and Barred Rock chickens, but unless I can come up with a murder involving poultry
industry I doubt that I can use that experience in my fiction—that is, unless Fried to Kill works for you.
|May 2008 Author of the Month
A Cold Dark Place is the Newest Release from Gregg Olsen. Below you will find the
In a secluded farm house in the Pacific Northwest, a family has been
slaughtered-and a teenage son has disappeared. Single mother and cop, Emily
Kenyon spearheads a dark hunt for a killer. But Emily's teenage daughter Jenna is
one step ahead of her. Jenna knows the boy suspected of murdering his family
and wants to help him-perhaps too much. Then within days of the first murder,
another family is butchered, this time in Iowa. And on the heels of this brutal
slaying, another follows in Salt Lake City. Eerie similarities link the crime scenes.
But an even darker connection threatens to claim even more victims. As Emily fits
the puzzle pieces together, she realizes the danger surrounding her daughter is
worse than she'd imagined. Now in a desperate race to save Jenna, Emily must
match wits with the most cunning, diabolical killer she's faced yet in her career-a
killer who's just placed her and her daughter at the top of his list.
|5 out of 5 stars!
This is an
|Gregg is a very accomplished person besides an award
winning author. He has appeared on many T.V shows,
some of which include: The Today Show, Good
Morning America, Fox News and CBS 48 hours. Gregg
experience in True Crime has led him to become a very
successful fiction author. He has also been featured in
USA Today, People Magazine and the LA times, to
name a few. We are very honored that Gregg is the
May Author of the Month.
|Gregg Olsen contributed a story
to Killer Year: A Criminal
Anthology edited by international
bestselling author Lee Child. The
collection includes stories from the
Killer Year authors, plus
contributions from Ken Bruen,
Allison Brennan, Duane
Swierczynski, MJ Rose and Laura
Lippman. Is coming from St.
Martin’s Minotaur in January.
Gregg’s short story is called THE
CRIME OF MY LIFE