The search for a teenage runaway sends her foster mother, a psychologist working for the LAPD, on a dangerous journey through Los Angeles’ criminal underworld, in this gripping new thriller by the author of the international bestseller ‘Baby Doll’.
Hollie Overton returns with her third novel, The Runaway, which is set to release on August 6th. This new thriller is “fast-paced, heart wrenching, and addictive” and we had the pleasure of talking to Hollie about her new novel and its inspiration, along with what she’s learned since her debut novel in 2016, book recommendations, and more! You can find Hollie on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and also at her website.
Hi Hollie! Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m an identical twin. Lately I lead with that due to several cases of mistaken identity. We were born in Chicago, grew up in Texas, went to college in NYC and now call LA home. I dreamt of being an actress but writing was always my secret hobby. A series of twists and turns led me to my dream jobs(!) as a TV writer and novelist. I met my husband David when we were botch cast in Shakespeare’s “King John” in New York. We have a four-pound rescue dog named Stevie.
Your next novel, The Runaway, is set to publish on August 6th. If you could only use five words to describe it, what would they be?
Fast-paced, heart wrenching, addictive.
Let’s hear a little more! What can readers expect?
The Runaway is a thriller about a young teenager who goes missing and her foster mother’s desperate search to bring her home. At its heart though, it’s about family and our desperate need for connection. But sometimes that search can lead us down a dark and dangerous path.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write The Runaway?
I lost my mother a few years ago and I’ve been trying to have a baby, so I knew I wanted my third book to focus on parental relationships and all the challenges it entails. Once I decided on a mother and daughter as the core relationship, I started to consider the world these characters would exist in. I always like writing about unique jobs or careers and I remembered that I’d pitched a TV show that focused on the LAPD’s Mental Health Unit. In this unit, therapists are partnered with police officers and they work together, assessing whether a person is mentally ill/a danger to themselves and others and the best way to treat them. The idea didn’t sell, so I tucked it away in my “one of these days,” file. When I came across a story about homeless street families, I realized I had all the ingredients I needed for my next book.
Did you find any scenes or another aspect challenging to write?
I tackle a lot of serious subjects in the book, from homelessness to mental illness to policing in LA and those scenes can be difficult to write. To make sure I was accurate in my portrayals, I sought out mental health experts, social workers, police officers and doctors. Their advice was invaluable and often changed the direction of the story or helped me go deeper with the characters. I also found myself truly tested when I was writing the first chapter. My first two books, those first chapters never really changed, but The Runaway was a bit more problematic. I probably rewrote the first ten pages at least thirty times until I was finally satisfied.
What drew you to writing thrillers?
My mom was a huge fan of thrillers and she instilled that love in me. I devoured everything from R.L. Stine to Mary Higgins Clark to John Grisham. I even attempted writing one when I was eleven, (though I threw it away in a bout of writerly insecurity!) When I began writing, I started in film/tv and my work always skewed toward darker subject matter. It was a natural progression when I decided to write my first book.
This is your third published novel with the other two published in 2016 and 2017. What have you learned since writing your debut novel, Baby Doll?
I’ve learned a lot about letting go since I wrote my first novel. With your first book there isn’t any expectations. I wrote Baby Doll for me and then the process of getting it published was relatively easy that I was just happy to see it happen. Writing my second book, I felt incredible pressure to deliver a great book, which can really impede the creative process, so I’ve been working hard to escape all of that. The only thing I can control is writing a great book. The other thing I learned— NEVER read reviews.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you want to be a successful writer, you can’t make excuses. I know that it’s difficult juggling family responsibilities and day jobs, but every single writer has done it, myself included. I worked three to four jobs at once and still wrote late into the night. It’s a choice we all make as artists. It’s also important to study and find your community of writers. If you live in a major city, there are tons of classes you can take or writers groups to join. If you don’t have that kind of access, there are so many online resources now. I’ve also found book Twitter to be a very valuable resource. Authors are so encouraging and supportive. They want to see you succeed and it’s really gratifying when you find fellow writers whose work you love and who champion your work. Finally, I am a firm believer in writing contests. You have to do your homework to make sure they’re reputable and not a cash grab, but there are some fantastic writing contests that can help you get on the map with agents and editors and see if your work is resonating.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing on season 2 of Tell Me A Story for CBS All Access. We’re filming in Nashville this fall and will air in late October. I’m also starting my fourth book, and working on some film and TV projects. It’s a busy time, but I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love.
Lastly, do you have any book recommendations for us?
Yes! I devoured Fake Like Me, by Barbara Bourland in a single sitting. It’s a fascinating look at NYC’s art world told through the eyes of a young artist on the verge of losing it all after a fire destroys her latest collection. I’m also a huge fan of Gillian McAllister, a bestselling author in the UK who just launched her US debut, The Good Sister. I love a great family drama and this one delivers, pitting two sisters against one another when the unthinkable happens.