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Aimee Trapnell reluctantly leaves her apartment on Manhattan’s Central Park West to return to her childhood home in Georgia for her father’s ninetieth birthday. Also on hand are her two brothers, wily Marsh and ne’er-do-well Trainor. With a forty-billion-dollar inheritance at stake, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make the old man happy.

To their shock they learn that what their father wants for his birthday is to kill someone. He doesn’t care who it is. He just wants to know what it’s like to commit murder.

Betrayal, double-dealing, and fast-paced action set the Trapnells on a collision course with an unexpected villain. Their journey takes them from the swamps of Georgia, to Italy’s glittering Amalfi coast, to rugged Yellowstone National Park.

Award-winning author Jill Hand took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest thriller, WHITE OAKS, with The Big Thrill:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

The setting took shape first. My in-laws are from South Georgia and I was struck by how different the culture is down there from what we’re used to in the Northeast. It’s beautiful and dangerous in the swamps. I wanted my book to reflect that.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

There are so many. Kage Baker, for a start. I love her Company series. Shirley Jackson, Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, P. G. Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome, Stephen King, Dickens, Connie Willis, and many, many more.

What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you about this book, or your work in general?

Are your characters real to you?

Yes, the Trapnells are very real to me. I lived with them for over a year and I miss them now that the book is finished. They were terrible scoundrels, but they were tremendous fun.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

Yes. I was surprised by how easy it would be to quickly destroy all life on planet Earth simply by doing one thing. I won’t say what that thing is; you’ll need to read WHITE OAKS to find out.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

Thrillers get my pulse pounding. There’s nothing like adventure in exotic settings and plot twists to keep readers turning pages. Agatha Christie once said that her goal was to make readers need to know what happens next. I try to follow that advice.


Jill Hand is an award-winning fantasy writer. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. She lives in New Jersey and is a former newspaper reporter and editor.