Lisa Unger
March 5, 2024


Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of twenty novels, including her latest SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX. With books published in thirty-three languages and millions of copies sold worldwide, she is regarded as a master of suspense.

Unger’s critically acclaimed novels have been featured on “Best Book” lists from the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, People, Amazon, Goodreads, L.A. Times, The Boston Globe, Sun Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times and many others. She has been nominated for, or won, numerous awards including the Strand Critics, Audie, Hammett, Macavity, ITW Thriller, and Goodreads Choice. In 2019, she received two Edgar Award nominations, an honor held by only a few authors, including Agatha Christie. Her short fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Mystery and Suspense, and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. Lisa is the current co-President of the International Thriller Writers organization. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.

Q. I’m always fascinated by the sources of your inspiration for new books. What inspired The New Couple in 5B?

Lisa: The inspiration for The New Couple in 5B was a little more winding than normal. My late aunt was a very glamorous Manhattanite. She worked in fashion and lived in what, to me as a young person, was the iconic New York City apartment on Park Avenue — hardwood floors, flooded with light, with a stunning views.  But she was a complicated woman, and our visits to her beautiful space, in an elegant pre-war, elevator man building, were fraught. I always felt some combination of awe, admiration, and horror. My aunt has passed, and the apartment was sold long ago. But it has lived on in my memory. More recently, I re-read Ira Levin’s stellar, gripping Rosemary’s Baby. And somehow the idea of a struggling young couple inheriting an apartment they weren’t sure they could afford to keep in a building full of secrets took hold. It’s not a retelling of that story, of course. But there are some things — the coveted building, the creepy neighbors, the young, complicated marriage — that I was eager to explore in my own way. So THE NEW COUPLE IN 5B is kind of a twist of those two sources of inspiration.


Q. The Windermere seems like a character in itself. Can you talk about the process of creating such a detailed and atmospheric setting?

Lisa: The Windermere is absolutely a character in the novel. Some combination of my childhood memories, my imagination, and my fascination with the iconic buildings of New York City, it was as alive for me as Rosie and Chad were. I used my memories and my research to create a place that is part true, and part fictional. I think that’s true of most of my novels, particularly those set in New York. There’s a New York City that belongs only to me — some union of the place I imagined and fantasized about as a kid, the place I inhabited as a student and a young publishing professional, and the one I experience now when I spend time there again. The Windermere typifies that energy for me — hyper-real, and totally fictional all at the same time.


Q. The dynamic between Rosie and Chad is central to the story. How did you approach writing their relationship amidst the backdrop of a thriller?

Lisa: Marriage is such an interesting tangle. Rosie and Chad each brought a lot of baggage into the life they share together. They’re very different; she’s an introvert, he’s a an extreme extrovert. She’s very bookish. He’s an extremely handsome actor over whom women tend to swoon. And yet somehow they’ve built something together, love each other deeply, support each other through the challenging moments of their lives. I don’t view their relationship as a backdrop to the thriller; I view it as the central component. What brings us together? How and why do we choose each other? What secrets do we keep from those we love? What do we hide from ourselves? I find those questions fascinating, and uncovering all Rosie and Chad’s layers was an important driver for me as a writer, and I hope for the reader, as well.


Q. What first drew you to the thriller genre, and how did your passion develop over time?

Lisa: I have always had a slightly twisted imagination, and have turned to the page to metabolize darkness. I think most thriller writers seek to order the chaos they perceive in the world by writing fiction. Probably most thriller readers come to the page for the same thing. Crime fiction is a crucible. When we meet people under extreme pressure, we often see them as they really are. I consider myself a spelunker, shimmying into the dark spaces of the human psyche to see what’s there. Crime fiction (or mystery, or thriller, or psychological suspense) provides a perfect canvas to explore why people do what they do, ask and answer questions about human nature, and maybe even conceive of some kind of justice in a world where it seems in short supply.


Q. What’s next?

Lisa: I am in the middle of revisions on my next novel. I am not quite ready to talk about it yet. But suffice it to say it’s a thriller, and bad things will happen! Stay tuned for more …

Lisa Unger's Latest

The New Couple in 5B - Unger

The New Couple in 5B

Rosie and Chad Lowan are barely making ends meet in New York City when they receive life-changing news: Chad’s late uncle has left them his luxury apartment at the historic Windermere in glamorous Murray Hill. With its prewar elegance and impeccably uniformed doorman, the building is the epitome of old New York charm. One would almost never suspect the dark history lurking behind its perfectly maintained facade.

At first, the building and its eclectic tenants couldn’t feel more welcoming. But as the Lowans settle into their new home, Rosie starts to suspect that there’s more to the Windermere than meets the eye. Why is the doorman ever-present? Why are there cameras everywhere? And why have so many gruesome crimes occurred there throughout the years? When one of the neighbors turns up dead, Rosie must get to the truth about the Windermere before she, too, falls under its dangerous spell.

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