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Amy Stuart, author of A Death at the Party

By Kobo • October 01, 2023Author Interviews

Amy Stuart is the #1 bestselling author of three novels: Still Mine, Still Water, and Still Here. Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award and winner of the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition, Amy is the founder of Writerscape, an online community for hopeful and emerging writers. Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and their three sons.

Kobo: Where did the inspiration for A Death at the Party come from?

Amy Stuart: A Death at the Party is directly inspired by the premise of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 classic, Mrs. Dalloway. In her novel, we follow the narrator, Clarissa Dalloway, as she moves through a single day making final preparations for a party that night. My novel follows the exact same setup, except there’s a murder in the mix. I’ve always loved the idea of taking a classic novel’s premise and twisting it into a thriller. That’s what I’ve done here!

Kobo: What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of writing thrillers?

AS: I think my most favourite and least favourite are the same: the plotting. Thrillers require some intricate plot work; you have to keep things moving while also incorporating twists and turns. I absolutely love building it out, but sometimes I get tangled into knots that require effort and brainpower to undo. It’s all part of the process, but sometimes it feels messy. For thriller writers, editing is your very best friend.

Kobo: What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

AS: As my career progresses, I find I don’t really have time for writer’s block. If I get stuck—which still happens all the time!—I’ll move on to something else. And if I’m really stuck, then I’ll try something playful, like creating a vision board or using scene cue cards and spreading them out on the floor. I also have notebooks for every novel I’ve written that are full of scribbles, diagrams, and questions, so I can always curl up with that and jot things down. I’ve learned over the years that the actual fingers-to-keyboard writing is only one part of the process. If you’re feeling lost, it’s perfectly okay to switch gears until the inspiration flows again.

Kobo: If you had to describe the main character, Nadine, in three words, what words would you use?

AS: Protective, fierce, anxious.

Kobo: This book has been described as a “whydunit” vs. a “whodunit.” Could you give readers an insight into why you went in this direction?

AS: Years ago, I read a “whydunit” by thriller queen Ruth Rendell and loved the structure of it. In a whydunit, readers know from the get-go who has committed the crime, but not why. In A Death at the Party, you know from page one that Nadine will end the day standing over a dead body. But who has she killed, and why? Rewind to that morning, and you have to read on to figure it out. It was super fun to play with format and have the readers guessing about something other than the identity of the killer. 

Kobo: What book have you read recently that you absolutely could not put down?

AS: The Whispers by Ashley Audrain. She is so good at endings! I devoured it.

A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

In this tense, spellbinding thriller set over the course of a single day, a woman prepares for a party that goes dreadfully wrong—for fans of Ashley Audrain and Lisa Jewell.

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