Michelle Hanson is a local renaissance woman – an independent author, playwright, photographer, filmmaker and producer based here in Columbus. She also happens to be a personal friend, with whom I’ve collaborated on a number of projects. When her new novel Skin | Deep was released, I was eager to grab a copy.
Skin | Deep is available on Amazon and costs just $0.99 for the Kindle version, which can be read using the Kindle app on nearly any mobile device or computer or on an Amazon Kindle device (I have the Kindle Paperwhite and love it, for what it’s worth). There’s also a paperback version available for purchase for those traditionalists among us!
As of right now, I’m only on chapter three, but I’m already hooked. The novel is a crime thriller with horror elements that doesn’t spare any details, so it’s not for those with weak stomachs, but it grips you from the start. The one word I’d use to describe it thus far is “intense.”
I wanted to learn more about the novel and Michelle’s writing process, so I asked her for an interview and she graciously agreed. Take a look below to learn more about this chilling novel, then grab your copy here!
Tell us a bit about your new novel.
Detective Sergeant Lena Evans gets recognized on the streets of her hometown of West Joseph, Ohio. She’s a reluctant local celebrity, having defeated serial killer Lathan Collins. Now, as the one-year anniversary of the Collins case nears, four more women have been brutally murdered—and the killer is sending video footage of their deaths directly to Lena’s inbox.
The investigation brings Lena face-to-face with her past: the Collins case, her celebrity status, her lingering PTSD—and the first woman she ever loved, Special Agent Cait Porter, who’s just been assigned to the case. The killer gives Lena five days to figure out who he is. But the closer she gets to finding him, the more likely it is that she’ll become his fifth victim.
What inspired you to write Skin | Deep?
I usually joke that I write crime novels so that my degree in Criminology can be put to good use. A part of that’s true. But really, it’s because most TV crime dramas have detectives experiencing these horrific events in order to make the show more suspenseful; but, by the end of the episode, the detectives just walk away, completely unfazed by the traumatic events. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a good and honest detective to go through something horrible and actually dissect the trauma of that experience. In Skin | Deep, Lena has to overcome two monsters: the villain committing these terrible crimes, and the PTSD building inside her.
How long did it take you to write Skin | Deep?
It took a little over two years to write the novel—and then another six months for editing and cover design. During the two-year writing phase, I took breaks to work on side projects or to research parts of the novel. I studied PTSD and went to a seminar on Missing Persons so that I could better understand the psychology and the process.
Was the decision to have a lesbian main character intentional?
Lena’s character was always meant to be a lesbian, but this isn’t her coming–out story. She’s secure in her sexuality. But her sexuality doesn’t define her, just like having blue eyes doesn’t define a person. She’s a detective who just happens to be a lesbian. Lena’s romantic relationships change throughout the novel, and readers get to see how the PTSD has really affected both her and her girlfriend. Gay relationships are just like straight relationships. How gay couples handle stress and conflict isn’t all that different from how straight couples handle stress and conflict.
Why should people read Skin | Deep?
I guess it depends on the person—because there’s really something for everyone in Skin | Deep. It has plenty of drama and suspense, of course. And I’m such a fan of horror movies that I couldn’t write a novel without including at least a few gory scenes. What I like most about the story, though, is getting to see Lena’s character navigate the case itself and the relationships in her life. She makes mistakes along the way—which is what makes her so relatable. Really, as long as people enjoy the story, that’s all that matters to me.