Hannah Mary McKinnon

Domestic suspense

Portrait of a family on the edge of disaster and a father desperate to hold onto the boy who changed his life.

I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland where I earned a couple of degrees in finance and business. After graduating I worked in a number of different industries before joining an IT recruitment company to do “everything except sales” (that was my actual job-title). Fast-forward a little over a decade and I’d married a Canadian within five months of meeting him on the Internet (anyone remember ICQ?), had three kids in sixteen months, and was the CEO of the recruitment business. Phew!

In 2010 we relocated to Oakville (Ontario) where I started my own HR company. It failed within its first year and, while its demise felt disastrous at the time, it gave me the opportunity to reassess what I wanted to do. That’s when I started writing, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

In recent years I’ve become a mud-run fan. Not for the running, which I’m rubbish at, but for the mud and obstacles—the more and the crazier, the better!

Read BookTrib’s review of Hannah’s book, Her Secret Son.

For more information on Hannah Mary McKinnon, visit her website.


Her Secret Son (2019)

The Neighbors (2018)

Time After Time (2016)

Biggest literary influencers:

Jennifer Hillier (see below), Lisa Jewell for her character development and ability to pivot from rom-com to drama to suspense, David Nicholls for his second-to-none witty and poignant dialogue, and J.K. Rowling for, well, everything.

Last book read:

A.F. Brady’s The Blind and Daniel Cole’s Hangman (both excellent!).

The book that changed your life:

Once an avid thriller reader, after my best friend’s murder in 1994 I wouldn’t touch anything other than light-hearted rom-coms. Two decades later, while waiting for one of my boys at the local library, I happened to walk past Creep by Jennifer Hillier. Something about the cover intrigued me so I picked it up, read the first few pages—and was hooked. I took the novel home and devoured the rest of it that day. Creep reignited my passion for thrillers. I remember thinking “I want to write dark stuff, too, I want to tell stories about messed up families.” It’s because of Jennifer’s book that I moved from writing rom-com to domestic suspense, and I couldn’t be happier.

Your favorite literary character:

It’s got to be Asterix and Obelix—simply because my sister used to read me the comic books when we were kids, and always put on funny voices that had us in fits of giggles. Both she and my parents played a tremendous part in cultivating my love of books.

Currently working on:

My fourth book (working title SISTER DEAR) is in the final editing stages, and publishes spring 2020. It’s another domestic suspense/drama, this time involving half-sisters who don’t know the other exists…until one of them finds out. Dark and twisty! I’ve made a start on writing my fifth novel, and am slowly plotting the sixth in my head.

Words to live by:

Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.

Advice to new and aspiring authors:

One: “Your first draft is allowed to be rubbish.” It took me forever to understand this means my first draft, not the manuscript I’ll share with anyone because I’ll go through rounds of self-edits before that point.

Two: “If you’re stuck on what happens next but know what comes after, skip ahead.” Of course! I’ve no idea why I didn’t think of it.

Articles / Reviews:

Booklist Online (The Neighbors)

Booklist Online (Her Secret Son)


Her Secret Son:

“An engrossing mix of suspense, grief and family drama, Her Secret Son is a powerful tale of the lengths parents will go to care for their children and ultimately, the true meaning of family.”

—Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of The Marriage Lie

“McKinnon continuously ratchets up the stakes to a stunning conclusion you won’t see coming. Emotionally tense and brimming with secrets, McKinnon showcases love in all its purity and peril.”

—Mindy Mejia, author of Leave No Trace

“Compelling characters, heart-stopping suspense and an ending that blew me away. Her Secret Son is an unbearably tense page turner that I devoured in one sitting. Make room on your bookshelf for this gripping thriller.”

—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author

McKinnon creates tenderly drawn characters, ordinary people thrown into haunting situations, and turns up the heat. Promise, you won’t see all the twists coming!”

—Kaira Rouda, USA TODAY bestselling author

An intricate tangle of family secrets…with unforgettable characters who bring this heartbreaking and chilling story to life.”

—K.A. Tucker, USA TODAY bestselling author