The Big Thrill Discusses VANISHED: Circle of the Red Lily with Anna J. Stewart
Since her twin sister Sylvie’s disappearance seven years ago, single mother Mabel Reynolds has turned grief into action and become a strong voice for victims of violence and abuse.
When new revelations shed light on what may have happened not only to Sylvie, but dozens of other women, Mabel’s hope for answers is reignited. But the new oh-so-charming DA overseeing the investigation seems more interested in a quick rather than an accurate resolution.
With little faith in the system, Mabel isn’t about to stay quiet, not when she’s finally close to the truth. She’s willing to go up against anyone—even a smug, irritating, attractive DA to get the answers she and other families deserve.
Open and shut.
That’s what Assistant DA Paul Flynn has been told about his new assignment supervising a house of horrors case. With a high-profile conviction at stake, Paul can’t afford to make a wrong move if his professional goals are to be achieved.
But Mabel Reynolds has his attention. All of it. Attraction aside, the woman knows far more than what’s in the official files which makes her something even more intriguing. But using Mabel as an asset means exposing her and her young daughter to even more danger. Danger that is closing in on them from every side. As even darker forces appear, and their lives are threatened, Paul is faced with risking not only his entire career, but also the one thing he never anticipated losing: his heart.
USA Today bestselling author Anna J. Stewart stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her latest romantic suspense, VANISHED.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I’m writing 5 books in the series and that means writing one a year (book 1 came out in 2022). As it’s one big story that continues through the story (with sub-stories featured in each title), it’s just how it’s worked out. It was a story, as a whole, that I needed to get out and tell (it had haunted the back of my mind long enough). Some stories just won’t leave you alone. This (the 5-book series) is one of them.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
With Mabel Reynolds, I saw a woman desperate for answers in a world that isn’t always able or willing to provide them. Missing women are a part of our world, our lives and there are so many families and friends out there desperate for answers they’ll probably never receive. So in that way, yes, there is an empty space. And in fiction, I can get Mabel those answers (even as they lead to more questions).
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
The series idea came from watching an episode of White Collar: where a storage unit filled with photography equipment was discovered. I asked myself, “what would be on undeveloped film that had been hidden for decades?” That question inspired my novel Exposed, which lead to book 2, VANISHED, which picks up about a month after the end of Exposed.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
As it’s inspired by Los Angeles and Hollywood and the movie system, oh so many movies were a part of the process. I had the perfect excuse to binge a ton of them. I also found watching Bosch and reading those books incredibly helpful with the way it uses LA as a character backdrop as well as its authentic portrayal of the LAPD and the politics involved.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
An escape for sure. And also an Easter Egg path of fun Hollywood references and a trip to Los Angeles. Reading these books means they’re part of the investigation as it proceeds: they get to know the characters and move into Temple House (the apartment building where the heroines live). I want them to feel like part of the community I’ve built in this fictional world.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I’m getting ready to start book 3 in the series, which should be out in November of 2024. I don’t want to reveal the title yet since it’s a bit of a giveaway from how VANISHED ends, but my heroine is an agoraphobic forensics specialist who must work with an old partner in order to continue leading the investigation into the crimes in the books. I can’t wait to see how the story turns out (I don’t plot, so it’s always a bit of a surprise).
Anna J. Stewart is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous romantic suspense novels. In addition to writing for Harlequin, she also writes for Arc Manor’s Caezik Romance line. A two-time Daphne Du Maurier nominee, Anna’s books have also placed in the Holt medallion and the national Readers’ Choice. Her latest series, The Circle of the Red Lily pays homage to a number of her interests including old Hollywood, secret societies, and the power of love and friendship. Anna, who lives in Northern California, is a life-long movie and TV a-holic and loves binge watching her favorite comfort shows that include Supernatural and Star Trek. She also spends a frustrating amount of time wrangling two monstrous cats named Rosie and Sherlock.
To learn more about the author, please visit her website.
VANISHED: Circle of the Red Lily with Anna J Stewart