Interview by Eric P. Bishop
Readers around the world know Meg Gardiner thanks to her bestselling psychological suspense/thrillers. Gardiner has the uncanny ability to keep her devoted fans turning the next page, while wondering what twists she will throw their way next.
Since the publication of her first novel, China Lake (2002), Gardiner has gone on to win many awards (starting with an Edgar for her debut) and grow her fanbase, as well as attract Hollywood attention—Amazon Studios is set to develop a one-hour drama The Dark Corners of the Night, based on the third novel in Gardiner’s UNSUB series.
And of course, there is a subset of fans who also know Gardiner from her Twitter account, where she highlights news stories posted online regarding people who make less than intelligent decisions as they go about their daily life. In particular, people who live in Florida show up on her Twitter feed with regularity—maybe it has something to do with the heat and humidity?
Gardiner is sure to gain a new legion of fans on August 9th when HEAT 2—the book she co-wrote with director, producer and screenwriter Michael Mann—hits bookshelves. Gardiner and Mann use the events of the iconic movie Heat to craft not only a prequel, but also a sequel to the cinematic masterpiece.
Gardiner may be a three-time Jeopardy champion—for real—but how will she fare when she’s faced with The Big Thrill’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and our 20 questions? Read below to find out!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting around the kitchen table with my family, laughing and sharing good conversation over a good meal.
What is your greatest fear?
I pour all my fears into my books. Read ’em and weep. And shudder. And gasp. In a good way!
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My joy at making readers weep, and shudder, and gasp.
I also love making them laugh and cheer. So maybe it evens out.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Cruelty, both deliberate and negligent.
What would your superpower be?
Trivia. I could defeat the devil at Jeopardy!
What is your favorite way to waste time?
Playing word games (looking at you, Quordle). Get me started, and I’ll keep going, endlessly, like a lab rat pressing that lever.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A teacher. I’ve taught for years, love it, and would find fulfilment teaching full time.
While watching the climax of a tense television episode, I waved my arms and shouted, “Something bad’s gonna happen!” And I jabbed myself in the eye.
I then had to explain to the emergency room nurse that I’d scratched my cornea by flailing and yelling at my TV.
Here are words I never expected to overhear while waiting in an ER at 12:30 am: “Which room is the Breaking Bad woman?”
Lesson: Fiction is powerful stuff. And, because people always ask: the episode was “To’hajiilee.”
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Three children who have grown into loving, brave, adventurous adults.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
Aside from my kitchen table? London—where our family lived for many years. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson: When you are tired of London, you are tired of life, “For there is in London all that life can afford.”
What do you most value in your friends?
Warmth, humor, and honesty.
Who are your favorite writers?
If I start listing them, I’ll never stop. I’ll just say: Nothin’ but love for all y’all.
If you were to die and come back as a character in a novel, who would you be?
Bobbie Draper in The Expanse series.
Who are your real-life heroes?
People who do what they can. It’s more difficult and courageous than it sounds.
What is your most unappealing habit?
Reflexive snark. That, or my fanatic love of Milanos and Diet Coke.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Finish your stuff.
What’s your favorite drink?
Plotter or pantser?
Plotter. If I ever wing it, I end up wallowing in a swamp.
What is your favorite word?
Which living author do you most admire?
What is your motto?
Fall seven times, get up eight.
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