RKB Writes Author Interviews
Gledé Browne Kabongo writes gripping, unputdownable psychological thrillers. She is the Eric Hoffer, Next Generation Indie, IPPY and National Indie Excellence Award-winning author of the Fearless Series, Our Wicked Lies, Fool Me Twice, and Conspiracy of Silence. Her novel Winds of Fear was voted one of 24 Books to Read During the Coronavirus by Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.
Gledé holds a master’s degree in communications and has spoken at multiple industry events including the Boston Book Festival, Sisters in Crime (SinC) New England Crime Bake and the Women in Publishing Summit. She lives outside Boston with her husband and two sons.
Her new book, Reign of Fear arrives May/June 2023.
You can follow Gledé through her social channels:
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Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?
I’ve always loved stories and reading. Growing up in the Caribbean, I devoured Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, as well as the Famous Five series by British author, Enid Blyton. Back then, I was around nine or ten years old and wanted to be a journalist, so I studied journalism in college and did some freelancing afterward. It wasn’t until 2005 that I was struck with the writing (fiction) bug.
Describe your desk / writing space.
My desk is L-shaped with lots of drawers. There’s also a ton of space for other stuff besides my laptop; a printer, piles of books, mugs, and a candle. I sometimes burn scented candles when I’m writing.
Do you have a writing routine, or do you write when inspired?
I used to write when inspired but figured that’s not a recipe for commercial fiction success. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to stick to a routine, even if I don’t reach the word count I set for the day. Every little bit adds up. I’m also trying to embrace writing out of sequence. I have a nasty little habit of abandoning the manuscript when I get stuck. Instead, I write scenes as standalones and determine where they best fit in the story later on.
How do you come up with the title to your books?
That’s a fun game I love to play. I write the blurb for the novel first. That helps me to think about the story holistically. The title also needs to align with the genre and give readers an idea of what the story is about.
Sometimes I will look up how many books already have the title I’m considering. The novel I released in 2021, Our Wicked Lies, was originally called House of Lies and I even had the cover done under that title. Then I remembered there was a series on Showtime starring Don Cheadle with the same name, as well as a few books on Amazon. I changed my book title to Wicked Lies but the competition was still stiff so I added “Our” to the title and that’s what stuck.
What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
The hardest scenes to write are the big ones that are crucial to the plot and will have a big emotional impact. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to approach those scenes because they’re multi-layered and have major repercussions for the characters and change the trajectory of the story in some instances.
My favorite scenes to write are the ones when opposing characters, i.e. antagonist and protagonist interact. What’s going on beneath the surface is just as important as what they say or do if not more so.
What inspired your book/series?
My Fearless series was inspired by my novel Fool Me Twice. My teenage character, Abbie Cooper, was also a POV character in that novel and I felt that she had so much more to say. Readers liked her so I thought it would be a great idea to build a series around her. Turns out that was a good decision. Some of the most gut-wrenching, emotionally brutal writing I’ve ever done is in that series. I won four book awards which was nice validation. Reign of Fear, the final book will be released in late spring of 2023.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a standalone next, about three friends who are hiding bombshell secrets from their pasts. Someone is threatening to expose the truth unless they confess.
What authors or books have influenced your writing? I think there is a type of storytelling that has influenced my writing more so than particular books or authors. I like big epic stories with compelling characters and plot, multiple POVs, emotional depth and of course suspense. When I was in college, I read James Michener’s novel, Caribbean. That story stayed with me all these years because of the way it was skillfully told. Michener wove a fictional story using 700 years of Caribbean history— history I grew up studying— as a backdrop for a sweeping saga filled with compelling, larger-than-life characters, tumultuous history, romance, and intertwined destinies.
The paperback edition of the book is almost 900 pages in length and I devoured every page because the story was that powerful. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is another one of my favorites because of similar characteristics. That book almost reads like a thriller but again, the storytelling, compelling characters, multiple POVs, themes such as revenge, which is common in thrillers, and the emotional heft all resonated with me.
What is your favorite meal? I don’t have one, but I do like seafood and a good steak.
Coffee or tea? Wine or beer? – Coffee, black or tea but it has to be fruit-flavored. I love tangerine, peach and mint, although mint isn’t technically a fruit.
Describe yourself in three words. – analytical, curious, compassionate.