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Bestselling Author Lisa Scottoline Talks About Her New Book ‘The Truth About The Devlins’ + How She Preps for a New Novel

We caught up with the bestselling author to discuss her new novel, what drew her to thrillers — and more!

Lisa Scottoline is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels, including One Perfect Lie, Loyalty and What Happened to the Bennetts. She’s known for writing riveting domestic thrillers filled with fast-paced suspense, danger and drama. She’s even been called “the female John Grisham.” And her newest novel The Truth About the Devlins, out now, delivers all her signature twists, turns and family drama.

Set in an idyllic suburban community in Pennsylvania, the story follows TJ Devlin, the black sheep of his family — and the only child who isn’t a lawyer at his family’s successful firm Devlin and Devlin. After a stint in prison and rehab for alcohol addiction, TJ can’t land a job anywhere except the firm. His family hires him and gives him the title of “investigator.”

Then, one night everything changes. TJ’s older brother John — the Devlin golden boy — confesses that he murdered one of the clients, an accountant he’d confronted about embezzlement. How can this be true? Is it? TJ dives into the investigation, relishing the chance to prove his worth and save his brother. But before long, TJ and John find themselves caught up in a web of dangerous lies and deception. At its center, Scottoline‘s new novel is a story of loyalty, justice, family — and the lies that could tear it all apart.

Woman’s World caught up with Scottoline to discuss The Truth About the Devlins, what this story means to her and how she became a writer in the first place. She also revealed the one person who changed her life, what she does when she’s ready to start a new book (Hint: It has nothing to do with writing!) and why she thinks thrillers are so compelling. Here, you’ll find out the answers and get a behind-the-scenes look at her creative process.

The Truth about the Devlins by Lisa Scottoline
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Woman’s World: Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

Lisa Scottoline: I love being an author and I’m so grateful to have had a career writing 35 novels over 35 years now. Before becoming a writer, I was a lawyer, and when I made the career switch, I gave birth to my amazing daughter and got a divorce — so we women can multi-task! My daughter changed my life because I had to find a way to earn a living while being home to raise her, so as a newly single new mom, I gave myself five years to write and sell a novel while I lived off of credit cards. In time I sold my first novel, Everywhere That Mary Went, which was the start of Rosato & DiNunzio, an all-women law firm series that’s about to come to streaming on TV from Skydance Media.

WW: What drew you to writing thrillers? Was there a singular book that sold you on the genre?

Scottoline: Being a lawyer made it a natural transition into the genre, but really my inspiration came from reading Nancy Drew as a child. I wanted more books with women in the lead, getting themselves into and out of trouble. My inspiration also comes from the strong independent women in my life like my mother, my girlfriends and myself. And by the way my daughter Francesca Serritella grew up to become a novelist in her own right! A happy ending!

Lisa and her daughter Francesca also write a weekly column called “Chick Wit” — a fun, witty take on life from a woman’s perspective. After running in the Philadelphia Inquirer for years, the column is now available to read and enjoy online.

WW: What did your idea and research process look like for The Truth About the Devlins?

Scottoline: The idea for this book was to do more of a character-driven thriller. I wanted to turn a family on its head and have the bad son become the hero in the family and the golden-boy son become the problem. I also wanted to explore family dynamics and how labels within a family can really shape us. As for research, I always do a full immersion. I will read every book, watch every movie, interview people and visit places that relate to whatever topic or place I’m writing about.

For instance, the main character in this book, TJ Devlin, is in recovery from alcoholism, so I read a ton of recovery memoirs, attended many open Zoom meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous and spoke with a friend who has been in recovery for decades. It really matters to me the book is authentic, especially when dealing with something so important and so sensitive as addiction recovery.

WW: Once you move past the research phase, do you jump right into writing?

Scottoline: When I’m ready to start a new book, I love to begin by rearranging my office. It sounds crazy, right? It gives me a feeling of a fresh start! I don’t write with an outline and that seems to work for me. I just like to tell myself the story as I go along and think about what would logically come next. Of course, I’m anxious the whole time, which I think translates into suspense when reading the novel.

Writing is my job and I love it, but I do take it seriously and treat it like a job. I try to write 2,000 words a day, and I don’t stop till I make that word count. Some days that can be by dinner and some days it can take me into the night. Either way, I do it in sweatpants…

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WW: Without too many plot reveals, what would you like readers to take away from The Truth About The Devlins? TJ Devlin is such a compelling character!

Scottoline: I’m thrilled that you like TJ Devlin, and that was one of the main takeaways I wanted for the book. My goal was to write a lovable but flawed character who has to rebuild his life after a life-changing mistake. I knew that I’d make mistakes in my own life, after all, I’m divorced twice! So I have a great respect for the fact that we will fail and we have to pick ourselves up again, and I really wanted to deal with that in a truly mature character.

The takeaway is that good people can make bad mistakes, but we always have to allow room for people to grow and hope for people to change. The other takeaway is that our roles within our families can have a huge impact on who we become and the expectations we have of each other, for better or, oftentimes, for worse. And maybe that we need to be careful about how we label each other around the kitchen table.

Lisa Scottoline: Lisa at a book launch event
Lisa and a crowd of fans at a recent book launch event for The Truth About the DevlinsLisa Scottoline via Instagram

WW: If you had to give an elevator pitch for this book, what would it be?

Scottoline: My elevator pitch is: ‘The ne’er-do-well son in a family has a shot at redeeming himself when his older brother confesses to a murder and asks him to help bury the body.’ I think readers will enjoy the fast pace and twists along with the emotional drama that is inherent in the Devlin family, and really, any family.

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WW: We’ve noticed the thriller/domestic thriller genre has skyrocketed in popularity. Why do you think this genre is so enticing to readers?

Scottoline: At heart, mostly everybody has really strong feelings about their family, the family of origin and the family they make. Those feelings can be good or bad, but they’re always dramatic and they’re the beating heart of any family story. Then when you add the thriller overlay, which makes the pages turn fast, I think you have a novel that you can’t put down. Plus, most thriller readers have a wannabe detective in them. Readers know so much more about the law and justice today because of all the TV series, true-crime documentaries and podcasts. Thrillers compel us because they stimulate readers’ to solve the mystery, and the story is delivered in an adrenaline-fueled page-turning way, and that is pure entertainment for smart people!

Check out Lisa Scottoline’s latest novel The Truth About The Devlins, available now.

For more on thrillers and mystery books, click through the links below!

Stephen King, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware And More Best-Selling Mystery Authors Reveal The Stories They Can’t Get Enough of

14 Unputdownable Thrillers Guaranteed to Keep You on The Edge of Your Seat!

10 Completely Captivating Cozy Mystery Books to Snuggle Up With!

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