Lisa Gardner is a #1 New York Times bestselling author whose latest novel, “Fear Nothing,” will be released on January 7. For this interview, the self-professed research junkie talked about her new book and the concept of evil.
After starting out in the food service industry and catching her hair on fire numerous times, Gardner decided to focus on writing. It’s a career choice that led to a series of #1 bestsellers. Gardner’s latest novel, “Fear Nothing,” explores one area that has always interested her. “I’m fascinated by the notion of where does evil comes from. Is it nature, is it nurture?”
In “Fear Nothing,” Gardner explores the nature vs. nurture question with the two daughters of a notorious serial killer. She said, “The younger sibling was adopted into a caring home and is now a pain therapist who specializes in helping others. The older daughter, abused by their father then set adrift into the foster care system, commits her first murder at fourteen. It all appears boilerplate; the good apple, the bad seed. But is it? Because good people also do bad things and bad people can be redeemed. Making it all very interesting when the two sisters’ worlds start to collide.”
The idea for the book came to Gardner after she read an article about a young girl who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain. “She literally can’t feel pain,” said Gardner. “At first blush, you think, how great! To never know discomfort! But in fact, for such a person danger lurks everywhere. The infection you don’t know you have until it’s too late. The shattered ankle you ran on for another week. The great idea to jump off a three story building, because it’s not like it will hurt when you fall. I became fascinated by the role pain plays in our lives, hence the creation of Dr. Adeline Glen, a pain therapist who can’t feel pain.”
Rather than preaching about the value of pain, Gardner chose to explore the advantages and disadvantages through the eyes of her characters. She said, “I maimed my returning character, Boston Detective D.D. Warren to the point she desperately wishes she didn’t feel anything! The two of them together, arguing the advantages of pain, are some of my favorite scenes in the novel.”
One of the things that makes Gardner’s books riveting is her fascination with human behavior and why people do things. She said, “I love the psychology in psychological suspense. More than the what, it’s the why’s of life that interest me. Why does Dr. Adeline Glen, a successful, well-educated woman continue to visit her sister in prison, when she knows no good will come from it? Why does Shana, a four-time murderer, continue to put up with visits from a sibling she swears she loathes? I love how people can know better, and still make the mistake anyway. We are all very complicated, which is why the world is never boring.”
With writers like Gardner around bringing evil into their books, the readers’ world will never be boring. However, while Gardner writes about evil, she does have a weakness when it comes to that subject. “I can’t watch scary movies,” she said. “I know, I know, I write very scary books. And for the record, I can read scary books. But I can’t watch scary movies. The person with her hands over her eyes and the blanket over her head, yep, that’s totally me. Embarrassing, but true.”
“Fear Nothing” publication date: January 7, 2013. Learn more about Lisa Gardner on her website at lisagardner.com.