Nicole Brebner
October 17, 2021


Nicole Brebner

Nicole has been with Harlequin for more than 15 years and works with bestselling authors in women’s fiction, suspense, and thriller genres. Nicole is guiding the MIRA program to publish exciting editorial from established stars to exciting debuts from fresh new voices. MIRA is home to authors and books that will appeal to readers.

Q. MIRA has been publishing commercial fiction for more than 20 years. What sets the imprint apart?

Nicole: MIRA publishes a broad range of fiction across all formats. We publish approximately fifty original titles per year and by curating a balanced list we are able to ensure that we offer something for everyone. We know our readers and how to reach them. We are known for building bestselling authors as well as launching exciting new voices. We have dedicated marketing, public relations and art teams and we are backed by the strength of the Harlequin and HarperCollins sales teams. We partner with our authors to make sure we do the best job possible when publishing their novels. We look to build the careers of our authors, not just an individual book. That’s why there are many authors at MIRA who have been publishing with us since the early days of the imprint.

Q. You work with bestselling authors in the women’s fiction, suspense, and thriller genres. What do you look for?

Nicole: The first thing I look for is a great story—something that draws me in and keeps me interested. I want to publish books readers will want to talk about. Fiction has always been such a great escape and it’s never been more important to have that outlet than it is now. We are asking readers to spend their entertainment dollars on our books so we want them to feel like their money is well spent. I’m always looking for something that feels new and different but will still satisfy what readers expect. For suspense and thrillers it’s all about great pacing and unexpected twists and turns. And characters you love to hate or hate to love.

Q. What are some of the trends in suspense and thriller genres you’re keeping your eye on?

Nicole: Modern Gothics are very popular and stories exploring the dark side of marriage or relationships have been trending for a few years now. I see a lot of submissions pitched as inspired by classic authors like Patricia Highsmith, Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie. Campus set suspense seems to be gaining popularity as are novels that read like true crime. You can never chase trends but having a broad range of editorial helps to ensure that you have books that fit the bill when something starts to take off. It will be interesting to watch what readers respond to as life slowly returns to normal. We were seeing a lot of closed room thrillers but I’m not sure anyone wants to feel trapped at home after we’ve lived that in the recent past!

Q. You’ve said elsewhere that you’re a sucker for a good tear-jerker. What pulls at the heartstring most for you and for readers?

Nicole: When a reader can relate to what a character is experiencing and feel the emotion they are reading about, it’s very powerful. There are books you know will be tear-jerkers based on their subject matter but I love it when I’m caught off guard by a passage in an otherwise uplifting or suspenseful novel that triggers a truly emotional response.

Q. What’s coming from MIRA in 2022 that readers should add to their to-be-read stack?

Nicole: We are thrilled to be publishing The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard in January 2022. Jackie is a legendary storyteller and her novel, The Deep End of the Ocean was the very first Oprah’s Book Club pick. The Good Son is suspenseful layered book club fiction. It’s a powerful, emotionally-charged novel of family, redemption and a mother’s love. The novel asks the question: What do you do when the son you love becomes unrecognizable to you? For a mother the answer is simple and agonizing: you keep loving him somehow. It explores the effects on a family when a young man is released from prison after serving his sentence for a terrible crime he can’t remember. The Good Son has everything I look for in a great novel. It’s emotional (yes, this one made me cry) it’s compelling, it stays with you long after you’ve read it and it asks tough questions that don’t have easy answers. It takes you into a fictional family’s world and the reader can easily put themselves in their shoes. Jackie is able to take characters who could be unsympathetic and have the reader really feel for them. We also have great novels coming from some of our bestselling authors including Crimson Summer by Heather Graham, The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan, Woman Last Seen by Adele Parks and a great debut  The Night She Went Missing  from an exciting new author, Kristen Bird.

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