Take 5: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Kath here. We’re so pleased that WU contributor Anne Greenwood Brown has agreed to let us pick her brain regarding her first book. The highly-anticipated YA novel LIES BENEATH releases June 12 (tomorrow!) by Delacorte. Anne’s book has been building buzz for months, getting terrific reviews from book bloggers, and in speaking to my own YA kid, word of mouth on this book is strong. I’ve no doubt LIES BENEATH is going to be the read of the summer.

If you’d like a taste of LIES BENEATH, check out the audio book teaser HERE or absolutely killer book trailer Anne has created HERE.

Take it away, Anne!

Q: What’s the premise of your debut novel?

My quick elevator pitch is: “mermaid assassins on Lake Superior.”

To give you a little bit more: LIES BENEATH is the story of Calder White, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids living in Lake Superior, who plan to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother’s death. To draw out their prey, Calder is assigned the job of seducing Hancock’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Lily. “Get close to the daughter,” his sisters tell him, “and you’ll get close to the man. Get him out on the lake, and we’ll take care of the rest.” It all goes according to plan, until Calder screws everything up by falling in love. That little snafu puts Calder in the position of trying to love the girl while simultaneously plotting her father’s murder. For a while he thinks he can actually pull this off, but it doesn’t take long for his plans to unravel.

LIES BENEATH is categorized as a YA paranormal romance; however, the romance is only a symptom of what’s really going on. In my mind, this is an evolution story (as in Darwin). It’s the story of a predatory animal who evolves into a man.

Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

Mermaids make an appearance in nearly every culture around the globe–and have since ancient times. When I was doing my world building and creating my characters, I found inspiration in mermaid legends from Greece, Arabia, the British Isles, China, and Native American tribes. The other thing I’d like people to know going in is that it is NOT Disney’s The Little Mermaid. There are no singing crabs. In Calder’s own words:

“Forget about that freakin’ Ariel. Think Friday the Thirteenth. Think Silence of the Lambs.”

Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

Calder is struggling to overcome his predatory nature from the very first page. He gets no help from his sisters who see nothing wrong with hunting humans. In their minds, it’s no different than the lion taking down a gazelle on National Geographic. You don’t describe the lion as evil, so why should they see themselves that way? The other thing Calder struggles against is family loyalty. He owes his life–as miserable as it is–to his mermaid family. To turn his back on them would be a massive betrayal.

Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

LIES BENEATH is told from Calder’s first person point of view, so getting myself to talk and think like a teenage boy (merman) was tough at first. When I read the first draft of Chapter One out loud at my critique group, they all thought he was a girl, so I did a lot of observing and listening to get it right. The weird thing was when I started writing the sequel, DEEP BETRAYAL, which is told from Lily’s point of view, I had to relearn how to write from a girl’s pov.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

Probably being part of an online community of 2012 YA/MG debuters, aka “The Apocalypsies.” If I ever had a question about the road from sale to publication, there was always someone just a step ahead of me who could give me advice. Working with YA book bloggers has been awesome, too. They’re a fearsome bunch–all very passionate about YA books.

LIES BENEATH is available at all booksellers June 12. Congratulations, Anne!



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.


  1. says

    Sounds like a wonderful tangle of Goal–Motivation–Conflict, Anne! As a guy who lives near the shore of one of the Great Lakes, and who also loves fantastic elements built into solid storytelling, Lies Beneath sounds like the perfect summer beach read for me! (You say they’re murderous mermaids? Yee! Well then, maybe I’ll read on the screen porch rather than the beach.)

    Have a great release day tomorrow! Enjoy! I wish you great success!

  2. says

    This sounds like a fantastic story. I love the premise. Can’t wait to read it! Bravo to you on your publication!

  3. says

    I am so excited to read this! Congradulations, Anne. I’m a big fan :)

    The storyline sounds so interesting. Mermaids are fascinating, but it is hard to find books about them.

  4. Rhonda Kay Brigman says

    Anne, huge congrats on your publication and launch tomorrow! You seem to be in a great group of encouragers and communicating with your own target audience. YA needs more than vampires! Love the premise and the tale, legends, and intrigue. Know you’ve hit on something promising…a series in the making no doubt. Love the trialer too. Excellent and can see the upcoming movie in your future. Wow!

  5. says

    What an interesting take on mermaids!

    Sorry, this isn’t related to the post, but I just notice the pic of Kathleen and Therese together as the “Writer Unboxed” avatar — SO CUTE!!

  6. says

    The premise sounds cute! I think Calder’s first person point of view will greatly help connecting with readers. I wish you luck and success Anne. May you a have a great release tomorrow.

  7. says

    Congrats! I love the premise–basically a YA monster story where the hero is the “monster.” Extra points for it not being about vampires.

  8. says

    What a great premise and interesting mix of genres and characters. Congratulations on publication and best wishes for strong sales.

  9. says

    Mermaid…assassins? SOLD.

    And it’s so strange to realize how difficult writing from the POV of a different gender can be. The last book I wrote before my current WIP was told from a first-person male POV, which was a first for me. (I’ve written male POVs before, but they were third-person and the character hadn’t been exposed to or shaped by a lot of the societal influences that inform our perceptions of masculinity.) In the last book, I tried very hard to think about the way men tend to think vs. the way women do, but at the same time, I didn’t want to rely on stereotypes and assumptions, because there is no Universal Way of Male Thinking. That book is currently with a beta right now, and I’m curious if any of the criticism will be about how believable the narrator is as a man.

  10. says

    Thanks everyone!

    If you’re wondering what a debut novelist does on the eve of the big launch…apparently it’s laundry. Not the glamorous life I envisioned, but still tomorrow should be fun!

  11. says

    That was really a good interview to read. Grabbed the book once I got to know. Hope all your books are sold very fast. ;) and hearty congrats for this launching. :)

  12. says

    I am dazzled by the conceit. Who’da thunk it?

    I did a story, ‘Southwest’, told from POV of a middle aged woman. When I sent it to my lady acquaintances I got universal raspberries and had to redo it guided by their perceptive comments. ’tain’t easy being androgynous.