You might not know who Claire Isenthal is just yet, but you will soon, as this up-and-coming author—who is destined to one day sit atop the bestsellers lists—makes her presence known to the thriller world with the launch of her exciting debut novel, The Rising Order.
When it comes to sheer writing ability, Isenthal is one of the most talented new authors I’ve covered in quite some time, and I’m already a huge fan of her work. Her first book, which just hit bookstores, was an instant Amazon bestseller and has already received tons of great reviews. And for good reason—The Rising Order is incredibly unique but also helplessly entertaining, and Isenthal knows how to draw readers in and hold your attention from the first to the last page. A story about a young woman who suddenly finds herself in a situation where she must choose between saving her family or saving the lives of thousands of innocent people, Isenthal’s lights-out debut reads like a cross between Jason Bourne and The Hunger Games and is unlike anything else I’ve ever read before.
Thankfully, Isenthal took time out from her busy book launch to go on the record for our Five Questions segment, and I asked her about everything from when she knew she wanted to be a writer to who some of her favorite authors are. Read the full Q&A below, then be sure to pick up your copy of The Rising Order, now available wherever books are sold.
TRBS: As friends, I know what a long journey this has been for you, and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of you to finally see THE RISING ORDER on store shelves. What does it mean to you to finally have this book out there and be published?
Isenthal: Oh, has it been a journey! There really are no words, which is always ironic for an author, but if I had to choose a select few I would say it’s a dream! So often, it seems like this process happens overnight but this has been a long seven years to get here. From the first draft to all the rewrites, to having two children, to a global pandemic, to big moves and new jobs, to the publication process – so much of life has happened during that time! But now that it’s here, it feels right, and I can’t wait for the world to finally experience it.
TRBS: I’ve long said you are genuinely one of the most talented writers I’ve ever come across. You are so good at working in vivid descriptions and setting your scenes, things I personally feel I struggle with as a writer, and here you are making it look easy! What’s your writing process like?
Isenthal: Well, I learn from the best (aka from you)! But aside from reading other amazing stories, I love to go on walks and almost always find I can get inspiration from that. Then I usually go straight home and will journal descriptions that came to mind. I’ll also write notes on my phone as ideas come to me if I’m out and the light comes through the clouds a certain way or there was a distinct feature I noticed on a person. I find that when I’m outside, it’s easier to be present, and so it’s easier to absorb our world and then apply that to the page to help transport a reader. For TRO, because I lived in Chicago for almost a decade, all of those scenes were easy because many parts of that city were so familiar to me. I’m a big fan of writing what you know because I think it leads to a more immersive reading experience.
TRBS: Take me back to the beginning. When did you know you wanted to be an author, and what made you finally take the plunge? Then, where did the story idea come from for THE RISING ORDER?
Isenthal: I think I’ve always wanted to be an author, but it wasn’t until I was working at what I thought would be my dream job at Google that I finally embraced and accepted that I wouldn’t be happy until I pursued writing and publishing a book. Something was just severely missing in my life, and when I started to write TRO, that lack of fulfillment disappeared, and I knew this was the story I was meant to tell. The story idea came after the Orlando Nightclub shooting in 2016, and I kept asking myself why killers like that were drawn to those acts of violence. I realized until we knew that, we wouldn’t be able to stop it. And then, certain scenes started to come to me, and I found myself building a story around those characters.
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are a few great books that you’ve read recently?
Isenthal: Well aside from you, obviously, one of my favorite authors, who I think is just brilliant and witty and sharp, is Jessica Knoll. Her third novel, Bright Young Woman, came out mid-September, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. It’s a little more True Crime than I usually read, but it’s loosely based on Ted Bundy’s victims, and as you can tell from TRO, I love authors who are able to incorporate urgent issues that need our attention into their stories. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is definitely another recent favorite!
TRBS: Lastly, now that this book is finally out in the wild, what’s next for you?
Isenthal: Well, book two, The New Order, is well in the works, which is, of course, very exciting! I’ve loved writing it even more than the first, and I think it’s going to knock people’s socks off. But I have a few other story ideas I’m also working through and that I’m so excited to finally get off the ground!
Claire Isenthal lives in the suburbs of Indianapolis with her husband, their two children, and their mutt. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University, and is an account executive at a Fortune 500 tech company. She has worked in digital marketing for over ten years. The Rising Order is her first novel, and she is in the midst of writing its sequel, The New Order. Visit her website claireisenthal.com or follow @claireisenthal on Instagram or Twitter.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, comes out on August 8th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.