Monday, December 11, 2023

SPOTLIGHT ON...Author Annelise Ryan!


Hello folks!

Today  I’m interviewing author Annelise Ryan!

Photo courtesy H. Claire Photography

USA Today bestselling author Annelise Ryan returns with the follow-up to her fascinating mystery, A Death in Door County (2022): DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS (Berkley Hardcover; on sale December 12, 2023).


In A Death in Door County (2022), Ryan introduced readers to our dedicated, but always skeptical sleuth: Morgan Carter, owner of the Odds and Ends bookstore in Door County, Wisconsin. When she’s not tending the store, she’s hunting cryptids. And although this hobby cost her parents their lives, it’s one she’ll never give up on.


In DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS, Ryan tackles another familiar mythical creature: Bigfoot! Business has been booming since cryptozoologist Morgan Carter solved the case of the monster in Lake Michigan. The Odds and Ends bookstore is thriving, of course, but Morgan is most excited by the doors that were opened for her as a cryptid hunter.


Recently, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest area of Bayfield County, Wisconsin, there have been numerous sightings of a Bigfoot-type creature. Now, Morgan isn’t one to believe anything without conclusive proof, but after a man is found dead from a vicious throat injury in the forest, the conservation warden asks Morgan to investigate. So, is the proof out there?


When Morgan and her dog, Newt, venture into the forest to investigate they find a lot more than large footprints and large fuzzy shadows: they uncover a trail of lies, deception…and murder. It seems a mysterious creature is indeed living in the forest, and Morgan might be its next target.


 On to our interview!

Welcome Annelise!  Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a retired registered nurse who has worked everything from birth (obstetrics) to death (hospice) with the majority of my years spent in an ER setting. I’ve always been a voracious reader and wanted to be a writer beginning as far back as I can remember. My family moved a lot when I was in grade and middle school and I was always the new kid in class, a tough row to hoe. I quickly discovered that by making up stories about my life or people I’d known, things I’d seen, and places I’d been, stories that made my life sound far more interesting than it really was, I attracted new friends faster. My mother called it lying. I called it survival through storytelling and I managed to turn it into a career! I’m also lying about who I am because Annelise Ryan is a pseudonym. I have another pseudonym, too: Allyson K. Abbott. My real name is Beth Amos. As a mystery writer and ER nurse, I figured it was best to hide my writing identity because my ER patients might not have been comfortable knowing their nurse spent her spare time thinking up fun ways to kill people.

Tell us a bit about your latest book.  

My most recent novel, DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS, is the second book in my Monster Hunter Mystery series featuring cryptozoologist, Morgan Carter. She likes to hunt for cryptids in her spare time, creatures like the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot. In this book, she investigates reports of a homicidal Bigfoot on the loose in the north woods of Wisconsin near the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior when a hunter and then a fisherman turn up dead. The first book in the series, A DEATH IN DOOR COUNTY, had her hunting for a Loch Ness-type monster in Lake Michigan. Are the deaths caused by cryptids or is it humans who are the monsters?

And now for ROCCO’s in-depth questions:

  1. How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I like to think of myself as a Dr. Frankenstein, piecing characters together with bits I’ve taken from real people I’ve met or observed over the years. I’m sure this will sound a bit crazy but they introduce themselves to me and reveal bits and pieces of themselves over time through their actions and the conversations I have with them in my head. (Then again, given my many identities via pseudonyms, maybe it’s understandable that my characters talk to me.) Sometimes this little Igor that resides in my brain tosses in a random piece I don’t know about, and I’m then surprised by something a character wants, does, says, or needs. Those make for fun, exciting moments in my writing.

  1. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

Both. I turn in a 3 – 4-page synopsis to my publisher ahead of writing the book but it’s a fairly generic outline I don’t feel locked into. The end result often bears only a passing resemblance to the synopsis.

  1. Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

Character. Hands down.

  1. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The biggest challenge is getting noticed. It’s become even harder now that everyone and their uncle can self-publish, and each book out there is but one drop of water in a vast ocean. I no longer doubt my ability to write or tell a good story, but I used to. My primary motivation, aside from deadlines, is this endless desire I have to tell stories, to play God with a bunch of imaginary characters and toss whatever I want at them to see how they survive…or don’t. It’s loads of fun!.

  1. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m currently writing the third book in my Monster Hunter Mysteries featuring cryptozoologist, Morgan Carter. I hope to continue this series as long as the publisher will have me. I’m also working on a Christmas novella (for next year) featuring the characters from my Mattie Winston Mystery series.

  1. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

It varies from one day to the next but most of my writing is done in the early afternoons, typically 3-4 hours at a time. I write in some way every day, though some days it consists of thought processes and mental exercises rather than time at the keyboard.

  1. If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?

A dictionary. That’s all. My imagination can do the rest.

8.      What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

If someone is writing with the goal of getting published, they need to learn the business side of writing as well as the craft. Read, read, read, both the genre you want to write in and books related to the craft and business of writing. Persevere, and don’t take yourself (or your writing) too seriously. Be willing to learn and take criticism.

  1. Where can we learn more about you and your books? or

Ad now....ROCCO’s Fast Five:

  • What did you do when you found out your first book was published?

When I first learned it had sold to a publisher, I cried. Then whooped. When I found out it was actually published and in stores it was late evening, and I was in my jammies. I quickly dressed and ran out to the nearest bookstore (in a mall) and stood in the store and cried once I saw it on the shelf. When I got home I realized I’d forgotten to put on a bra before I headed out and was wearing my shirt inside out. I never went into that particular bookstore again.

  • What’s your favorite part of the day?

Early morning when I first get up and the whole day is waiting for me full of potential.

  • What is your favorite movie quote?

“As … you … wish!”

  • What food do you wish was calorie free?

Pasta. Well, all foods, really. Except maybe liver. It can be as fattening as it wants because I’ll     never eat it.

  • What is something you are really bad at?



 Folks you can find out more about Annaelise here:

My books can be found in any physical or online bookstore. The full list of titles can be found here: and also here:

As for me personally, I can be found at several upcoming events. Check out this page, which is regularly updated:


Berkley has contributed one hardcover copy of DEATH IN A DARK WOODS FOR ONE LUCKY COMMENTER!

To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section below.  Maxx and will pick the lucky winner! US entrie only please!

Contest ends midnight, December 15