Tag Archives: Lyme disease

Author Interview/Book Review: Brandilyn Collins & Over The Edge

15 Aug

Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author’s own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today’s medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University’s  Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn’t exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment. 

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa’s marriage is already rocky. She’s so sick she can hardly move or think. And her  husband denies she has Lyme at all.

Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.



Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .” ®  Brandilyn’s first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn’s awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she’s not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers’ conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

My Impressions:

Brandilyn Collins is known for her Seatbelt Suspense brand, and her newest novel, Over The Edge, will certainly make you strap that seatbelt tight!   Janessa McNeil is the wife of famous Lyme researcher Brock McNeil.   After three weeks of the flu, Janessa gets a bizarre phone call.  The caller claims to have infected her with Lyme and wants her husband to recant his previous statements that Lyme is not a chronic disease.  What begins as a bizarre incident escalates to full-scale stalking and a life or death race to identify the stalker and get a diagnosis for the illness that has Janessa in its grips.

Collins used her own struggles with chronic Lyme as the inspiration for this novel. The obstacles that Janessa faces to get both a diagnosis and appropriate treatment were Collins’ own.  The author’s experience brings an even higher level to the suspense in Over The Edge.  The Lyme wars are brought into focus. And while the book is a fascinating look at the Lyme wars, it is also a great twisting and turning suspense that will keep you guessing and gasping to the end.  Besides the mysterious caller, Janessa must face an increasingly hostile and abusive husband.

Over The Edge is a perfect book club pick.  There is so much to discuss — from the Lyme controversy, to Collins’ own experiences, to the solving of the whodunit — Over The Edge will keep you reading and talking into the night.

Highly Recommended.

While at the ICRS in Atlanta in July, I had the opportunity to talk with Brandilyn Collins.  Here are the highlights.

BTB:  Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Brandilyn:  True crime stories are the biggest inspiration for my novels.  Of course Over The Edge was inspired by my experience with Chronic Lyme, but day to day experiences can trigger an idea.  One evening while in my hot tub with my husband, I got the idea for the opening scene of Violet Dawn.  I thought, a body could be dumped in a hot tub and no one would be the wiser!  I also have people coming to me with ways to kill people!  A repairman even gave me his take on the perfect murder!

BTB:  What type of research do you do?

Brandilyn:  After writing so many novels, I have a base of knowledge to draw from.  But I will call on experts to get specifics just right.  My next book is set in a fictional small town in Mississippi.  I traveled there to research the setting.

BTB:  What is your next book?

Brandilyn:  My next book is set in the fictional town of Amaryllis set in real life Jasper County, Mississippi.  In this small town there have been several unsolved murders and the newest one has just happened.  Three women are sure they know who the killer is, however, their suspects are three different men.  The novel is titled Gone To Ground.

Thanks to Brandilyn for sharing with me.  To find out more about her story and to get more information about Lyme, click on the following:  My Healing and About Lyme.

Gone To Ground — Amaryllis, Mississippi is a scrappy little town of strong backbone and southern hospitality. A brick-paved Main Street, a park, and a legendary ghost in the local cemetery are all part of its heritage. Everybody knows everybody in Amaryllis, and gossip wafts on the breeze. Its people are friendly, its families tight. On the surface Amaryllis seems much like the flower for which it’s named—bright and fragrant. But the Amaryllis flower is poison.

In the past three years five unsolved murders have occurred within the town. All the victims were women, and all were killed in similar fashion in their own homes. And just two nights ago—a sixth murder.

Clearly a killer lives among the good citizens of Amaryllis. And now three terrified women are sure they know who he is—someone they love. None is aware of the others’ suspicions. And each must make the heartrending choice to bring the killer down. But each woman suspects a different man.

(I received Over The Edge from B&H Publishers in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)