ONE LAST CHANCE by Susan May Warren, feature
ONE LAST CHANCE by Susan May Warren, feature
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The Big Thrill Discusses ONE LAST CHANCE with Susan May Warren

Book Cover: ONE LAST CHANCEThe voice on the radio saved his life.

But when he discovers who she is…it just might cost him everything.

Axel Mulligan was built to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. He could swim faster, endure longer and became a miracle for those in peril in the sea. Until a tragedy destroyed him and sent him home, to Alaska.

Now, three years later, he’s not going to let the past repeat itself, so as an Air One rescue swimmer, he’ll do anything to save lives. Including lose his own—which is what he expects when he goes into the icy waters of the Bering Sea, trying to rescue a cruise group of tourists. But for the voice on the other end of the Ham radio, he might have given up, let hypothermia win.

But it didn’t. Now he’ll do anything to find the voice and thank her.

Except the voice—Flynn Turnquist—is not who he thinks. A national wildlife researcher, she’s deep in the bush, tracking wolf pack patterns. Or is she? In fact, she’s a former cop, tracking down a serial killer. And she’s close enough to see his handiwork in the trail of bodies. She nearly had him—until he escaped into the Bering Sea. But she just knows he’s still alive…and she’s sure she’s on his trail…

When Axel finds Flynn…and what she’s really up to, it stirs up a terrible nightmare he’s been dodging for years—the kidnapping and death of his own cousin. Worse, he’s led the killer right to her doorstep. Now, it’s a race through Alaska to stay alive… and when tragedy strikes again, he must choose between rescue or redemption…

USA Today bestselling author Susan May Warren recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest adventure thriller, ONE LAST CHANCE.

Author Photo: Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

Oh, definitely! The idea for ONE LAST CHANCE started one evening while I was watching this intense Coast Guard rescue episode. It was all about this harrowing rescue at sea where the rescuer had to stay on his boat all night, and the only way he could communicate with anyone was through a ham radio. That really got me thinking—imagine if the voice on the other end was just some random person out there? What if that voice became your lifeline in more ways than just keeping you safe physically?

As I watched, it wasn’t just the action that captivated me, but the emotional and psychological lifeline that voice provided. I started to wonder, what if you finally went to meet the person behind that voice and they turned out to be completely different from what you expected? Who would that be, and what kind of twist would that add to the story?

These questions sparked the whole premise of ONE LAST CHANCE. It was fascinating to think about mistaken identities, unexpected heroes, and those invisible yet crucial connections between people in extreme situations. The relationship between Axel and the mysterious voice dives into these themes, exploring not just the external adventure but also a journey of self-discovery and unveiling deep truths about others.

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?

Oh, that’s a great question! For me, choosing a book to dedicate myself to for the next couple of years comes down to a couple of key things: the characters and the plot. I always say that I need to really enjoy hanging out with my hero and heroine—if I like them, then I’m all in for the adventure with them. It’s like committing to a long journey with friends; you want to be sure you’ll enjoy their company!

With ONE LAST CHANCE, Axel and Flynn just jumped out at me from the get-go. They were these vivid, compelling characters with layers of depth and personal stakes that felt very real and very urgent. I found myself drawn to their courage, their flaws, and their growth. I knew pretty early on that I wouldn’t mind spending a lot of time with them, exploring their world, and seeing how they’d navigate the challenges I threw at them.

And, of course, there’s the plot—the mystery and the twists. I love a story that keeps me guessing and has me on the edge of my seat. With this book, the stakes were high, the emotional rollercoaster was intense, and there was this delicious tension that just wouldn’t let go. That kept my attention riveted as I dove into writing this story.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

Oh, absolutely! Inspiration for ONE LAST CHANCE came from so many places, particularly movies and videos that capture the raw intensity and drama of rescue operations. I watched The Guardian with Kevin Costner more times than I can count—it provided such a deep dive into the heroics and the emotional turmoil of rescue missions.

I also immersed myself in a ton of whitewater kayaking videos. There’s something about the unpredictability and ferocity of the water that really gets the adrenaline pumping and helps me visualize the scenes where my characters are battling against nature. Then there were the helicopter rescues from lakes and rivers and some truly heart-pounding Extreme Rescue videos. Watching real rescuers in action, especially in series like Coast Guard Alaska, not only informed the technical aspects of the rescues but also the emotional and psychological depth that these situations bring out in people.

As for music, epic movie soundtracks are my go-to writing companion. They have a way of elevating the tension and drama, helping me to craft scenes that are as cinematic as they are emotive. Listening to these tracks really helps me to get into the zone and see my scenes unfold almost like a movie in my mind.

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?

Oh, definitely! When I started shaping the protagonist for ONE LAST CHANCE, I really saw a chance to mix things up in crime literature. I thought, why not blend the high-energy feel of an adventure-rescue story with the tense, moody vibe of a crime thriller? And set it all in Alaska’s wild, rugged scenery—perfect for adding both beauty and a bit of danger.

I got excited about the idea of throwing a serial killer into the mix, right in the middle of this stunning yet harsh Alaskan backdrop. That combination—the adrenaline of an outdoor adventure with the dark twists of a crime drama—felt fresh and unexplored. It’s one of those settings that just naturally cranks up the tension.

Creating Axel Mulligan, our main guy, was about filling this gap where the character’s survival skills are directly tied into solving the crime. It’s not just about being tough and handling the wilderness; it’s about how those skills intersect with the mystery. This blend of character depth, thrilling plot, and the unique setting seemed like the perfect storm to create something new and engaging in the crime genre.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

When I write, I always hope to deliver more than just a gripping tale; I want to leave my readers with something to ponder, something that resonates with them long after they turn the last page. With ONE LAST CHANCE, beyond the suspense and adventure, I really hope to convey a deeper message about faith and perception.

I want my readers to come away with the reassurance that, no matter the struggles we face, we aren’t alone. The idea that God is with us in our struggles, guiding and supporting us, is a powerful theme throughout this story. Life can throw us into tumultuous, unpredictable situations—much like the wild Alaskan wilderness in the book—but there’s a profound peace in trusting that we’re never truly isolated or unsupported.

Moreover, I hope to challenge readers to think about appearances and reality. Things are often not what they seem, and understanding this can change how we approach our problems and relate to others. In ONE LAST CHANCE, the characters learn to look beyond the surface, to question their assumptions, and I think there’s a valuable lesson in that for everyone.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I’m super excited about what’s coming up next! In August, get ready for One Last Promise, which features Moose Mulligan, Axel’s older brother. This new book plunges into a tense, emotional search for a missing girl and really puts Moose in the spotlight.

Just like in ONE LAST CHANCE, you can expect a mix of nail-biting suspense and deep emotional moments, all set against the stunning backdrop of Alaska. One Last Promise takes you on another intense ride, testing the characters to their limits and exploring themes of hope, courage, and redemption.

It’s packed with action, heart, and a few twists that I hope will keep readers turning the pages late into the night!


Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 90 novels with more than 1.5 million books sold, including the Global Search and Rescue and Montana Rescue series. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan makes her home in Minnesota.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.