Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget
to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers'
Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

How did you get the idea for Dark Pursuit? Did you have a working title for your story? If so what was it?

The idea for Dark Pursuit goes back 30 years, to my first reading of John Milton's Paradise Lost. A phrase from a scene jumped out at me: "hatching vain empires." Originally Dark Pursuit was titled Vain Empires. In plotting the book I began to think of Satan's "gift of life" to man in the Garden of Eden, which, of course, was really the gift of death. But man fell for the ruse. And we're still falling for it today. We think we have "life"--everything we want, doing what we want when we want, when in truth that leads to spiritual death. This theme runs beneath the fast-paced surface story of Dark Pursuit. The green and black on the cover represent the colors of life and death. The killer is an archetype for all mankind who has fallen for the "death disguised as life" ruse of Satan, rather than seeing the truth and accepting God's redemption. The killer is crazy and over the top. We see this killer wooed, tempted, falling for the lie, then living and loving the lie. The killer's blindness seems so obvious in this character's choices. But do we see the same truth in our own lives, with the choices we make?

Was this book more difficult to write than the others because you were writing a story inside a story?

No more difficult. I often write a story within a story. Maybe not in actual manuscript form. But I may run a back story subplot (as in Crimson Eve, Coral Moon, and others) or an alternate plot that eventually ties into the main story (as in Exposure, my novel releasing May '09.) This technique allows me to jump back and forth. Pairing this technique with chapter hooks can increase the tension dramatically, as one plot is left hanging while I switch to a chapter on the alternate one.

What made you write suspenseful, murder mystery books in the first place? Did you always know you wanted to write?

This is definitely not a question you want to ask me. Because the answer is very, very long—as in over 60 blog posts long. The entire "How I Got Here" story--my journey to publication--is on my blog in the archives. It's written with suspense techniques, chapter hooks and all. It clearly lays out all the obstacles, all the tears and joys of that journey. You can read it here.

I've heard authors say that their characters came alive. Have any of your characters taken you place you didn't want to go? Did they surprise you? Do tell!

Writing the bad guys is the most fun. I can just let my mind go crazy. :D (My poor mother wonders where she went wrong.)The killer who most surprised me was the one in Dead of Night, third in the Hidden Faces series. I was late starting that book. The deadline was coming closer and closer, and I didn’t have any idea where I’d take my main character next. I kept trying to make one plot line work, and it just wouldn’t. Then out of nowhere came this ranting voice in my head. I sat down and wrote the two-page, first-person prologue, which is this serial killer’s gloating/ranting over the latest victim. From that voice the entire plot came.

Can you tell me of two Wow moments for you in your writing career? What made it a Wow for you?

First one—when I sold my first novel, Cast a Road Before me.

Second—when my first two, two-book contracts with Zondervan were fulfilled, and they asked me, “How many books would you like to write for us next?” That’s the open-ended question that is every novelist’s dream. That led to a seven-book contract. (

Those first two, two-book contracts were for Eyes of Elisha and Dread Champion; and Color the Sidewalk for Me and Capture the Wind for Me--second and third in the Bradleyville series, following Cast a Road Before Me.)

You write scary stories (they are to me) - Seat Belt Suspense. I know you have members in the "Big Honkin' Chickens Club" (some of your members go to my book club but I won't mention Ane Mulligan's name). What are the top three things that scare you most?

For an author who’s known for writing Seatbelt Suspense®, which evokes the thrill of a roller coaster ride--I’m scared to death of roller coasters. I also shake at the mere sound of the dentist’s drill. And I’m scared of heights. By the way, all three of these fears find their way into my next novel to release, Exposure.


Is being an author everything that you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you most? Why?

It’s much, much harder. Before I was published, my sights were on being published. That was the brass ring. Wrong. That’s only the beginning. The harder struggles come when you’re writing to deadline—that is, when you have to create, whether you feel like it or not. And, after writing a certain number of books, it gets harder to be fresh and surprising each time (especially if your brand is Seatbelt Suspense®.)

Brandilyn can you give us a sneak peek about Always Watching, the new young adult suspense you've written with your daughter, Amberly? When is the release date?

Sure, I'll give you a "Sneak Pique." :) Always Watching, first in The Rayne Tour suspense series, is written for ages 13-16. It features Shaley O'Connor, daughter of a rock star. Shaley lives in a world of backstage passes, fancy hotels and limos. Some people would say she has it all. But there are secrets in her own life to which she longs to find the answers. In the first chapter her best friend on tour is murdered--and Shaley's world spins out of control. To view a trailer for Always Watching and read the first chapter, visit my web site under "COMING NEXT."
Book two in this series, LAST BREATH, releases in September. A planned book three will release in the spring of 2010.

Could you tell us about the healing that took place in your body from Lyme Disease? How did that affect your life? Your family?

Again, this is another long story. The entire telling of it is on my Web site, on the page called “My Healing.” (Here) Do take time to read it when you can. It’s a testament to how God brought together many people to pray for me, and how He took those prayers and blessed not just me, but all involved in praying.

From the symptoms you described on your Web site from the treatment of this disease you could really relate to your character Darell Brooke. How much of you is in "Dark Pursuit"?

I did have “Lyme brain” when I was sick—the lack of being able to concentrate or think of a word. I even stuttered when I spoke. More recently I broke my ankle two years ago—and knew very well the struggles Darell had with his broken ankle, and the physical therapy he was supposed to do.

Another part of me in Darell was simply the difficulty of writing a suspense, even when you can think. There’s a passage that talks about the maze of plot points, and what it takes to change even one tiny detail, for that changes everything else. Oh yeah, that’s straight out of my life!

My inside sources tell me that you are a jokester. Is that true?

It just might be. Or perhaps I shall take the Fifth on this question. I will say I’ve had a lot of fun lately trading a rubber snake back and forth with Deb Raney. (Now don’t go feeling sorry for “sweet Deb Raney”—she started it.) I got her good last time. I wrapped the thing up in a box of chocolates and arranged it so she opened the “gift” in front of a class she was teaching at the ACFW conference. Worked great. I had to wind the snake up tight to fit it in the box, so when Deb took off the lid it unwound and jumped onto her arm. She freaked. I grinned all day.

Brandilyn; As a SURPRISE to you I have an inside source (Ane Mulligan)that has provided a picture of the very moment you pulled a prank on Deb Raney. This was DEFINITELY FUNNY!! I know this is not the "exact" incident that you are referring in this interview but its fun to see.
I wish I had the picture of the frank that Deb pulled on you FIRST!! That would be funny to see (did I say that out loud :D) HA!Ha!

OK, You've told us you have been writing a very, very long time. Rumor has it that you have a picture of your oldest fan. Could you share the picture you took with that fan?

**Wow- Brandilyn - I had no idea how long you were talking about here! Ha! Ha! Your a great sport. Thanks for sharing this HONEST!! **

You are in a life threatening situation and someone needs to save you. Who would you pick and why? It can be anyone from a superhero, cartoon, or TV/movie character.

Superman, because he could turn the world backward, turning back time. I could then launch a prestrike and kill off whoever was going to come after me.

What is your favorite place to eat breakfast? Favorite dining spot (when money isn't an issue)?

Breakfast is a home-made latte (the best) drunk at my computer.
Actual View from Brandilyn's porch
Favorite dining spot—the deck of our Idaho home, looking over the lake. Pure heaven.

What is a special quality or talent you have that would surprise people?

I can sing like a Munchkin. (“Di-i-ii-iii-nnn-ggg d-o-o-o-onn-gg, the witch is de-ea-ea-ea-dd…” – very, very high).

If you found a magic lamp and the genie was going to grant you three wishes – what would your wishes be?

To write brilliant suspense pages very, very fast, turning out a book a month without breaking a sweat. That’s only one wish, but that’d do the trick.

Okay, wait. Wish two—to resculpt my body just the way I want it.

Wish three—to have the metabolism my entire life to keep said body.

Wish four—oh drat, I’m out.

If you were able to be a super hero for a while, who would you be? (You are the author here so you can combine powers and costumes to make it work for you).

Wonder Woman’s figure. Invisible Man’s cloak. Superman’s ability to fly. Spiderman’s ability to climb buildings. No wait, I’m scared of heights—scratch that one. Yoda’s wisdom. Darth Vader’s laser sword, just ‘cause it’s cool.

If you could interview or hang out with two people for 48 hours who would you pick and why? (you can hang out with them separately or all together—it's your party).

Jesus and Satan. Together. I wanna see Satan sweat.

If you had all the time in the world and just as much money what would you do and why?

Oh, I suppose I’d write suspense novels on my yacht anchored off the Greek aisles. Write on my own time, of course—no deadlines. Travel all over the world with my wonderful husband. Buy all the designer purses I want. Give away lots of money to build churches, help the homeless, etc.

If you had to pick a TV "Reality" show to be on what would you pick and why?

I don’t watch reality shows, except for American Idol, so I don’t know. And I definitely like watching that one better than being on it. Novelists have enough critics. I don’t need Simon Cowell breathing down my back in front of 30 million people.

What movies did you see as a child that really had an impact on you? Why?

The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. Way cool—especially when God parted the Red Sea. It brought the Bible story to life for me.
(And you thought I was gonna name some suspenseful slasher movie…)

**YOU said it -- YES, I was WONDERING!!! :D)**

Nora, thanks for this interview. For all of you reading—you can visit my blog, Forensics and Faith HERE. And on my Web site HERE you can read the first chapters of all my books.

Brandilyn; THANK YOU!! This has been so much fun!! We'll definately have to do this again. I CAN'T Wait until we get to talk to each other "live" at book club.

Blessings on your writing.
Talk to you soon!!


  1. Great interview! Brandilyn Collins has become one of my favorites. I look forward to reading more of her stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nora as usual a great interview. Brandilyn seems like a really great lady and a lot of fun. Can't wait to meet her.

    Gail Mundy

  3. Great interview! I like your style, you brought out some really cool answers.

  4. Wow! Great interview! Thanks for sharing! The young adult series sounds great!

  5. Great interview! Loved the questions and answers. Brandilyn, I'll pray you get your first wish -- that you can write a novel a month without breaking a sweat. I would be one happy reader!

    Thank you both.

  6. Awesome interview thanks!

  7. This was a great interview. I love the idea of the big honkin' chickens club. I think that would be me. I haven't read any of her books for that reason, but what a perfect way to get the word out even from people who haven't read her work but just love her. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Loved the interview. Thanks for adding all the pics and the video.

  9. Love your work, Nora and Brandilyn!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  10. I'll tell you more about the lady I call the divine Ms B.

    She's as nice as her books are scary - which is REALLY nice! She's a wonderful encourager and a giant in the faith. When I think of prayer warrior, I think of Brandilyn. She's a lot like her wonderful mother, Mama Ruth.

    Blessing on you, Ms. B. See you in March!

  11. Nora,
    You always have such cool interviews on here..can you believe that I have not read one of Brandlynj's books..ugh. I have Dark Pursuits but haven't had time to read it.

    P.S. Don't worry about that ULog think I can't figure it out much myself and I didn't mean to send it to everyone...LOL