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The Dark Side

Learn more about Her One Mistake

What inspired Her One Mistake?

A very haunting true story of a child who’d been left at a party and tragically had a fatal accident. I couldn’t imagine what both sets of parents must have gone through. The blame, guilt and grief must have been palpable, yet they’d never been able to share it with each other. I decided to base the story around a child who went missing as this is every parent’s nightmare, and the idea that Alice was being looked after by her mum’s friend was something I hadn’t read before. I also had firsthand experience of losing a child at a busy theme park and the emotional rollercoaster I went through will never leave me.

Female friendship is often explored in novels. Do you have a favourite literary friendship, good or bad?

I absolutely adore Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and the female friendships within this novel really stand out to me. They each have their personal battles, often hidden from their closest friends, but they devoutly stand by each other.

Why did you choose to make social media such a key part of the novel?

Social media has such a huge influence on our lives today. It has an undercurrent that runs through many things we do. It is distracting and often unsociable and I felt was exactly the right thing to absorb Charlotte when she should have been watching the children. I couldn’t ignore the impact of Facebook and other platforms as a means of Charlotte searching for what everyone thought of her. Even though she didn’t want to see it, she couldn’t resist its pull. I didn’t set out intending to make it such a key part of the novel but as I wrote, it kind of earned its place by its own merits!

Did you ever envision a different ending for the book?

Yes! In fact the first draft I wrote had a very different ending, although it was one I never felt happy with. Endings are such tricky things and once I decided I need to change it, I deliberated over a number of different outcomes before I found the one I was totally happy with.

What book do you wish you had written?

Can I change this to say which books?! There are so many I wish I’d written. The first that springs to mind is Big Little Lies again, I hope that isn’t cheating as I’ve already used it for one of my answers, but I just love the characters and the structure of the novel. Plus who wouldn’t want Nicole Kidman phoning you up one day to see she wanted to turn your book into a TV series?!

But as I’ve already spoken of my love of that book, I’ll add another and say I also wish I’d written Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. Everything from the title to depth of her characters was inspired. I loved that book.

And finally Gone Girl. I see this as a turning point in psychological thrillers. Suddenly every other book was being touted as the next Gone Girl and when I set out as a writer I wanted the same. What a honour that must be, about a novel you have created.

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks was born and raised in the seaside town of Bournemouth on the south coast of England. After moving up to London for a short stint, she has since moved back to Bournemouth where she now lives with her husband and two children. Heidi has been writing since she was small, though for too many years her day time job and career in marketing got in the way. Now she writes full time and cannot think of anything she would rather be doing.

Learn more about The Homecoming

Describe The Homecoming in 3 sentences, with no spoilers!

The Quinlan family gathers at an enormous, forest estate for the reading of their father's will, a man who has been absent for long stretches of their lives. When the condition of their inheritance requires them to stay at the estate for thirty days, they reluctantly agree (in large part to learn more about who their father really was). What they come to learn is that their family, their father, and their very selves are not what they thought them to be - and the estate holds secrets of a kind they could never have guessed at.

What would you be willing to do to get a massive inheritance?

Quite a lot, I think...though not what the characters in my novel end up going through! The concept of "inheritance," however, is an interesting one. Yes, there's the implication of wealth - of one degree or another - being passed from the dead to the designated living. But as anyone who has grown up in a family knows, one inherits so much more: habits (both good and bad), memories, talents and flaws. The Homecoming is inspired by my experiences and reflections that followed the deaths of my parents within a week of each other a few years ago. The way that I and my siblings remembered our parents and our childhoods - the similarities and sometimes striking differences - was an inheritance too.

The novel has a very cinematic feeling, did you have any movie or TV inspirations?

I love film, but I don't write novels with a view to the movies they might one day be. But movies certainly influence my work as much as books, less in terms of overall form or content or "accessibility" than in terms of building toward vivid moments. I write for moments - the parts in a book that make you put it down and go "Ohhhhhh!" Having said all that, in hindsight, I think the cinematic strands in the DNA of The Homecoming would include Sleuth, Deliverance, with a dash of Ordinary People.

If you could cast the movie adaptation of The Homecoming, who would you choose to play Aaron and who would play Bridget?

Okay, if I could cast the movie and have a time machine to do it (because the actors and their ages wouldn't match up without one), I'd say a late-30s Tim Robbins for Aaron, and a teenaged Jennifer Connelly for Bridget. No time machine allowed? Then how about Oscar Isaac for Aaron and Millie Bobby Brown for Bridget. Come to think of it, they would be awesome.

Which book or books do you wish you had written?

Ghost Story by Peter Straub (the gold standard, in my opinion, for the kind of modern horror I love to read and aspire to write). The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (the original text that set the model for psychological thrillers, written at the turn of the last century). The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (a Freudian follow-up to Turn of the Screw, where the genius lies in what is hidden more than what is revealed). Among many, many others.

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper is the author of The Only Child, which was an instant national bestseller in Canada. He is also the author of six previous novels, including The Demonologist, which won the International Thriller Writers award for Best Hardcover Novel and was selected for The Globe and Mail’s Best 100 Books of 2013 and Amazon’s 20 Best Books of 2013. The Killing Circle was a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. Four of Pyper’s novels, including The Damned, are in active development for feature film. He lives in Toronto. Visit AndrewPyper.com or @AndrewPyper.

Let author Daniel Kalla tell you why you should read We All Fall Down

Can you describe We All Fall Down in three sentences (with no spoilers!)?

When the plague recurs in Italy—near the redevelopment site of a condemned medieval monastery—the locals turn to the WHO and NATO for help. To stop an epidemic, Dr. Alana Vaughn and her team must first determine whether nature or man is responsible, while coping with vicious church intrigue, local corruption, and an unseen conspiracy. The key to solving the mystery of the present-day outbreak and stopping the Black Death from going global again might lie in the forgotten diary of a medieval barber-surgeon who lived in the same monastery during the plague.

Why did you choose Genoa, Italy, to be the setting?

Two reasons. One, Genoa is a stunning and culturally rich city that drips with living history. Two, Genoa—a thriving merchant state in the Middle Ages—was at the epicenter of the Black Death. It was Genoese sailors who first carried the plague, along with numerous flea-infested rats, back to Europe on death ships that would ignite the Black Death in 1347. And, like most major European cities, Genoa paid a horrible price when more than half of its inhabitants were wiped out in a few short months.

If you could cast the movie adaptation of We All Fall Down, who would you consider for the lead role of Dr. Alana Vaughn? Who would be your backup choices?

Easy! But rather than a backup choice, I have two first choices: Amy Adams and Emma Stone. Not only are they both redheads, like Alana, but they’re such terrific actors who portray such sympathetic characters. I think they could really embody Alana’s strengths and vulnerabilities and bring her to life in the way I imagine her.

Your novel revolves around the Black Plague. Using your medical knowledge, can you tell us a bit about what the Black Plague is?

The Black Death was a form of the bubonic plague, a bacterial infection that still exists today. However, the modern-day plague is a shell of its former self, like comparing a cold virus to the Spanish Flu. The Black Death got its name from the classic skin infection it caused: large swollen nodes, or buboes, in the armpits and groin that sometimes turned them black. The plague also led to overwhelming pneumonia or blood poisoning that would kill some victims in hours, leading one medieval poet to muse: “well to bed, in the morrow dead”. The Black Death was so deadly that—in an age before much travel—it swept from Sicily to Iceland and killed half of Europe’s population in under three years.

Which thriller novel do you wish you had written and why?

Tough question! I kind of wish I had written The Da Vinci Code, because then I would never ever have to work again! In truth, I enjoyed Dan Brown’s novel, but the thriller that stands out most for me is Jurassic Park. I love big concept stories, and they don’t get much bigger—figuratively and literally—than Michael Chricton’s novel. It’s such a simple idea—that scientists recover DNA from dinosaurs and manage to regenerate species from it—but so brilliantly executed. It’s a joyride of a read with compelling characters and so many elements of a classic thriller, including suspense, conspiracy, a “locked room” mystery, and the ultimate ticking clock.

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kalla is the internationally bestselling author of Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit Daniel at DanielKalla.com or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.

If you had to describe your book in one sentence, what would you say?

Social Misconduct is the story of a smart, ambitious young woman whose online life goes so far off the rails that she is driven to desperate measures.

Social media features prominently in your novel; why did you decide to write a novel around it?

My first two novels were based on my life. Deadline is about political journalism, which is how I have spent much of my career. Salvage is about sailing, the culture of the South Shore of Nova Scotia, death, fishing, sex, and cocaine. Both novels were driven by personal impulses. For my third novel, I thought I should think about what kinds of stories the world needs, take a more strategic approach.

I was studying the nineteenth century novel and noticed that many novels of that era were preoccupied with marriage and adultery, and that these novels helped people at the time understand the way that gender relations were changing. That made me think about how many great novels—books we think of as timeless—like Pride and Prejudice or Madame Bovary—are rooted in a moment. Stories that connect with readers often have to do with the way the world is changing. So I thought a story about smartphones, about social media, might be useful to readers.

You are also a journalist; how were you able to use your journalism experiences to research and write Social Misconduct?

After 30 years of typing for a living, I think I have a facility with the language that is helpful, and also a lot of research experience.

For this book, I did interviews with people who work in social media and I read books about online culture, the computer business, and the psychology of trauma. I repeatedly talked to people in law enforcement to figure out some tricky plot points. I also visited all of the places in the book, taking notes and cell phone pictures and talking to people, getting what journalists call colour.

This is something you learn from journalism, not so much a particular skill, since anyone can do it, but a habit, something you learn to force yourself to do: go up to strangers and talk to them. Often I wrote scenes based on internet research, then visited the places, and went back and rewrote the scenes based on my observations.

Can you tell us who your favourite character to write was? (without spoilers!)

Candace, the central character, is interesting, smart, and resourceful and somehow mysterious, even to me. I came to feel, after a certain point, that she came alive, that I did not have the power to tell her what to do. She was going to do certain things, and I was going to write down what she did. I am not sure what to think of her.

Were there any other books, TV shows, or movies that influenced you while writing?

The most important inspiration for this book was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which is a profound, original novel, the kind of book that changes the publishing industry, changes the culture. I also went back and reread The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester, because I liked a feeling the book had at certain point, and wanted to study how he produced that feeling.

Those were the two most important influences, but during revisions, I also went back to books by Martin Amis, Patricia Highsmith, P.D. James, and Stephen King, rereading them to observe their techniques and see if I could find inspiration. I’m not sure I found direct lessons, but it probably helped me to meditate on the puzzles I faced as I was trying to improve the story.

S. J. Maher

S. J. Maher

S. J. Maher is an award-winning journalist who has uncovered scandals, reported from remote outports, jails, warships, hospitals, parliamentary chambers, Afghanistan, and Haiti. His second novel, Salvage, was shortlisted for awards by the Crime Writers of Canada and The International Thriller Writers. He writes his books at anchor on his old sailboat, Free Spirit. Visit him at sjmaher.ca or follow him on Twitter @stphnmaher.

What was your inspiration behind writing The Last Resort?

Four years ago, I was on holiday with my family. I was writing a different novel at the time, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect the setting we were in was and wondering what might lurk beneath the surface. Authors tend to do this; we’re always looking for stories. I’d entertain myself poolside by engaging in a favourite hobby of many authors: people-watching, then speculating to my husband about what everyone’s story really was. Soon, I had a novel about a supposedly idyllic couples’ counselling retreat percolating. By the time I had finished the other novel I was working on I was ready to start The Last Resort, some major world events —Trump being elected as president, the #MeToo movement—had changed the way I saw the world. I was frustrated and concerned about many issues, and I channeled all this into my writing.

The Last Resort is very different from your previous novel, Things to Do When It’s Raining. Do you enjoy writing darker, more thriller type novels as opposed to contemporary fiction? And what genre do you see your next book being?

I didn’t set out to write a typical thriller novel. I write about families, relationships, and human interaction. In this way, The Last Resort is no different than my previous two novels: it examines marriage and relationships, and our motives within these relationships, and definitely picks up many of the threads in Mating for Life and Things to Do When It’s Raining about the secrets we all keep. But yes, things do end up taking a dark turn in The Last Resort, and this is new for me. I think it happened because my writing came from a dark, frustrated place. A friend recently described the book as “furious", and she’s right: many times when I sat down to write, I was furious. I didn’t realize how dark I could go—but I also believe I’ve created something that isn’t just dark: there is hope, redemption, and love. I think The Last Resort is an interesting hybrid of the thriller and contemporary fiction genres — and that it likely delves deeper into the psyches and inner lives of its characters than many thrillers do. My next novel has thrilling, mysterious elements, too. And—a first for me—only one central character with a very big secret. That’s all I can say for now.

Who is your favourite character from The Last Resort and why?

I think I’d most want to be friends with Grace. Despite everything, she’s an excellent therapist, and a genuinely insightful, caring person.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be?

A librarian, an editor—or miserable, because I love being an author. If I weren’t an author, I’d probably spend most of my time trying to figure out how to be one.

What books are on your summer to-be-read list?

I’ve already read what I’m sure is going to be one of the biggest books of summer 2019: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m often asked for book recommendations, and this is the one I’ll be singing the praises of far and wide. It’s a delight from start to finish, and everything I want a beach read to be: smart, deep, and rollicking. I'm also looking forward to reading Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder, The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess, Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon, Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn, Bad Ideas by Missy Marston, and Worst Case, We Get Married by Sophie Bienvenu.

Marissa Stapley

Marissa Stapley

Marissa Stapley is the author of the bestselling novel Mating for Life, and Things to Do When It's Raining, which has been published in nine countries and translated into seven languages. Her journalism has appeared in newspapers and magazines across North America. She lives in Toronto with her family. Visit her at MarissaStapley.com or follow her on Twitter @MarissaStapley.

I'll Never Tell is set at a summer camp. Were your own camping experiences your inspiration?

For the setting, definitely. I spent 11 years total at sleepaway camp; 9 at the same camp in the townships in Quebec. Nothing like what happens in the book happened to me or anyone I know though! Based on a real location, not real experiences.

You've written 8 novels prior to this one, and they are all very different — where do you get your ideas?

Thank you! I try to make them different. It’s hard to say where ideas come from exactly. Usually it’s a bit of plot or concept that comes to me first. For I’ll Never Tell, I had always wanted to set a book at camp but could never come up with an idea. I also wanted to write an Agatha Christie-type mystery. And I also wanted to write a reunion book. One day the ideas just fused.

So much of this novel is about family and the ties that bind us. What do you think it is about family and secrets that is so tempting for a thriller writer?

You can’t have a thriller without secrets! And while everyone has secrets, they mostly only matter to those that [they] are close to. I like mining the idea of how little we know one another, but also the idea that if we all just sat down and were honest with one another, we might figure things out faster.

Can you tell us which character in I'll Never Tell was your favourite and why? (Without spoilers!)

Writing the twins was a lot of fun. They are so different and yet so the same, and I loved playing them off of one another.

If you had to inherit anything, what would you want to be left?

It’s wrong to say a lot of money, right? Mmm, I’m really not sure. Probably some family photographs that my grandmother has – she’s 103! – and she has this great wall of history in her house. But I’m in no hurry to get them. May she live to be 110.

Catherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie’s The Good Liar was a national bestseller. Her previous novels have been translated into multiple languages. A graduate of McGill University, Catherine practices law in Montreal, Quebec, where she was born and raised. Visit her at CatherineMcKenzie.com or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @CEMcKenzie1.

Your Life is Mine

Can you explain your novel in three sentences or less?

Blanche Potter is a young documentary filmmaker whose father was a spree-killer and wannabe cult leader. She’s changed her name and tried to leave her traumatic past behind, but the fragments of that nascent cult are still active, and the murders aren’t over.

What were your biggest challenges when writing this novel?

I wanted to tell both a page-turning, thrilling story and integrate thoughts about issues such as spree killings, toxic incel “philosophies,” casual violence, American gun culture, and misogyny. Balancing all of that in a way that would satisfy readers who come to books for a variety of different reasons was quite difficult!

Blanche is fantastic protagonist. Did you have anyone in mind when writing her?

Not in particular, though I’m certain many of the working woman artists, writers, and filmmakers I know influenced how she turned out on the page. In terms of her “look,” I never describe it in the book because she’s narrating and doesn’t much care about what she looks like, especially while undergoing the most stressful experience of her adult life. But I do know she wears heavy metal t-shirts and black jeans.

Cults are at the center of the novel. What research did you have to do for this aspect of the novel?

I did a lot of research into the Jim Jones story, but I also wanted to use the cult context to discuss the insidious online cult-like incel communities and their admiration/deification of various murderers and lightweight, misogynistic philosophers.

Were you influenced by any TV shows or movies?

I can’t say that I was, certainly not directly. I draw most of my writing inspiration from books (and the news, of course), but in terms of atmosphere, I wanted to write a thriller that had the spiritual intensity of early 90s Florida death metal. But doesn’t every writer?

Nathan Ripley

Nathan Ripley

Nathan Ripley is the pseudonym of Toronto resident and Journey Prize winner Naben Ruthnum. Find You in the Dark, Ripley’s first thriller, was an instant bestseller and an Arthur Ellis Awards finalist for Best First Novel. As Naben Ruthnum, he is the author of Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race. Follow him on Twitter @NabenRuthnum.

The Arrangement

What piqued your interest in the topic of The Arrangement?

I saw a news article about the rise of sugar babies on college campuses across Canada. At that time, UBC, the university near my home in Vancouver, had the most in the country. (A recent article reports that U of T now holds the crown.) I wanted to explore what drives a young woman to get into the sugar-baby life, what that would feel like, and, because I write thrillers, how it could all go so wrong.

Did current events, such as the ubiquity of online dating, influence your novel or writing process at all?

My daughter is nineteen, and we have discussed dating apps like Tinder and various sugar-dating sites. To me, hooking up with someone you met online is terrifying. To her, picking up a guy at a bar is unthinkable! I read numerous articles and news stories about the increase in “transactional dating,” where women are paid by men for their time, attention, and their bodies. The #MeToo movement also influenced me. Some of the female rage in my book stems from watching women come forward who had been harassed and abused and then made to disappear.

How did you gain your understanding of the psychology and inner workings of the sugar-daddy relationship?

I did a lot of research for The Arrangement. I created an online profile for my character on one of the sugar-dating sites. Within minutes, I had numerous messages from ‘daddies’ offering $400 for a glass of wine, a three-thousand-dollar allowance to see them once a week, and bonuses to engage in kinky sex. It was intriguing and disturbing. I also sat down with a couple of sugar babies who were really open with me about how it works and how it makes them feel. It’s a fascinating, sometimes dangerous, world.

Is there a certain message from the novel that you want to get across to readers?

I’d like readers to see how a regular, relatable girl could end up selling her sexuality for money. I think removing the stigma around sugar dating (and sex work in general) makes it safer for women. If they’re not made to feel ashamed, they will tell a friend or family member where they’re going and who they’re with. And I hope that my novel will spark the important conversations that are finally being had about female sexuality and empowerment.

Did you have a different view of sugar-baby/daddy relationships by the end of writing this book?

Absolutely. When I would see a young woman out with a sugar daddy, I’d be repulsed. Researching and writing this novel forced me to examine why I felt that way. As a Gen X woman, I grew up focused on equal opportunities and equal pay. Seeing girls being supported by rich older men felt like a step backwards for feminism. But talking to young women opened my eyes to a different point of view. Many of them have a post-feminist, sex-positive perspective. They believe that sex work has and always will exist, and our focus should be on making it safer and more consensual. That’s when I realized that my judgement serves no purpose. Removing the taboos, bringing it into the open means that sugar babies won’t feel ashamed to tell a friend or family member where they’re going and who they’re with. Their safety is the most important thing.

What are you reading and watching at the moment?

I read a lot of thrillers but I’m currently reading Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s smart and hilarious and it’s a nice change of pace! I’ve been watching City on a Hill about a corrupt cop in Boston in the nineties. And, of course, I recently devoured Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding’s novels include The Party, Her Pretty Face, and The Arrangement, and she has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and two children.

The Last House Guest

Describe your book in 3 sentences or less!

The Last House Guest is about the mysterious death of a wealthy summer visitor, and her best friend—someone who grew up in the town—who is desperate to uncover the truth before the facts get twisted against her instead. It takes place in a small vacation town on the coast of Maine, and centers on the complex, unusual friendship between Sadie and Avery—along with all the secrets hidden under the surface of this picturesque town.

What was your inspiration for The Last House Guest?

I usually begin with character, but The Last House Guest was partly inspired by the idea of a place: a vacation town. I knew I wanted to set the story in a town where there would be a contrast of insiders (the characters who live in the town year-round) and outsiders (those who visit each summer). Avery and Sadie grew from this idea. The friendship between Avery and Sadie—and all that happened because of it—became the heart of the story. But as I worked through earlier drafts, I realized that Avery embodied both sides of that equation—she is someone who grew up as an insider, but now feels like an outsider to her own town. That’s when I knew The Last House Guest would be her story to tell.

As a thriller writer, do you find you know the plot structure before it happens, or does it develop as you write?

For me, it definitely develops as I write. I’m fascinated by how stories are told, and what different structures can reveal. I’d like to say that the story and the structure always arrive hand-in-hand, but that isn’t always the case. With The Last House Guest, I tried at least three different structures before finding the focus of the story and understanding how best to tell it. It ultimately ended up being told in two different timelines: the present summer, and the prior one. At the start of the story, Avery can’t seem to accept or move past Sadie’s death a year earlier. And she keeps circling back to that pivotal night with each new discovery, looking for the things she might’ve missed the first time around.

What books have inspired you as a writer?

So many! I am a life-long mystery and suspense reader, and there have been so many different books that have inspired and spoken to me at different times in my life. Growing up, I loved both writing and science, and one of my teachers gave me Jurassic Park, which made me realize you could have a story with the twisty, action component, and also the parts of you that make you different—whether that be questions of science, or something else. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak was another story that spoke to me on such a personal level. I also love character-driven stories of all kinds, and have been inspired by books by Tana French, Gillian Flynn, and more.

Avery and Sadie were inseparable friends for almost a decade. Have you ever experienced a tight female friendship like that? If so, how do you bring that into your writing?

My first disclaimer is that my real-life friendships are nothing at all like the ones in my books! I have had the same best friend since I was a child, and am so thankful to still have her friendship in my life, many decades later. One element I think a lot about when I’m writing is destabilizing the main character’s foundation, especially in the psychological suspense genre. Maybe that’s how I bring those experiences into my stories, which are so different from my own life—to disrupt the relationships that have been so stable and important for myself.

Avery is a great amateur sleuth. Which literary detectives have inspired you?

I definitely got started when I was younger with Nancy Drew. Since then, I’ve gotten hooked on series featuring many detectives, amateur or otherwise: Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar, to name a few. No matter what the character’s background or career, I’m always fascinated by how each person uses the resources at their disposal, whatever they might be.

Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. She has also written several books for young adults, including Come Find Me, Fragments of the Lost, and The Safest Lies. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter and Instagram, or visit MeganMiranda.com.

The Family Upstairs

Can you describe The Family Upstairs in 12 words or less?

A sinister, dark and unsettling story of family, loss and unthinkable secrets.

There’s a very cinematic quality to this novel, were you inspired by any tv shows or movies?

No, not really. I do write very visually and readers always says that they can picture my books as films and TV shows, so I think that’s probably the case here too. The inspiration for this novel mainly came from wanting to write about a dysfunctional family, which I hadn’t done since The House We Grew Up In six books ago and which I really enjoyed. I also wanted to write about a grand house and about a homeless mother living rough on the streets of the south of France, inspired by a woman I’d seen there when I was on holiday in 2017.

Without spoilers, did you have a favourite character and why?

Henry is my favourite character without a doubt. I started writing him as a ten-year-old boy and grew with him into his teenage years and then as a forty-one-year-old man narrating the back story. He never failed to surprise me and wrong foot me (and sometimes slightly scare me!) I’ve rarely written a character who controlled his own destiny and evolution as much as Henry did and he was so much fun to write.

You've written 17 novels and have yet to run out of fascinating plots, where do you get your inspiration?

I don't tend to start with a plot in mind, I plot as I write which gives me no choice other than to keep the story moving and unfolding and holding the readers’ interest. I usually start with tiny little seeds of ideas; like, in the case of this book, the woman I saw in the south of France. That grew by imagining an interesting story for her and then finding a way to tie that in with the dysfunctional family and the grand house I wanted to write about. It’s very organic which means I can build a whole book from the tiniest, tiniest of beginnings rather than a fully imagined plot.

The Family Upstairs is very much about family and the damage it can cause, do you have a favourite literary family?

I’m not sure that I have a favourite literary family as such, but I do love every family created by Eve Chase; she writes dual time frame novels about incredible old houses with dark histories and her back stories are always peopled with the most fantastically interesting families written with such life and verve. I also loved the Bohemian families in The Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido and Learning to Swim by Claire Chambers, both of which are seen through the eyes of a shy and slightly unassuming incomer, highlighting their colour and idiosyncrasies.

Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

Woman on the Edge

First things first––tell us about your inspiration for Woman on the Edge.

It was a cold winter morning six years ago when I was waiting for the subway on a Toronto platform, watching the commuters, wondering what everyone’s story was. I wasn’t specifically looking for a plot, because usually my best ideas come to me when I’m not trying so hard to find them. Then I saw a woman holding a baby. She looked tired and frazzled, as most new mothers do. Just as I did many years ago. I was curious what she was thinking about and how she was doing in this new life that we’re thrust into the minute our baby is put in our arms for the first time. I was afraid for her, because she was so close to the edge. There are no barriers, and one false move—a light push, a trip, and she could fall onto the tracks. Even then I hugged the wall on the platform, and now I basically press myself against it until the train comes. I felt the wind of the oncoming train as it careened through the tunnel, and I imagined this mother asking me to take her baby. I experienced the exhilarating, heart-pounding excitement of a new story, and my thoughts got darker. As the train pulled into the station, I scribbled the idea on an empty gum pack. By the time I’d boarded with all the other commuters, and happily, also the mother who was nestling her baby against her, the premise for Woman on the Edge was born.

What books and/or authors have inspired you as a writer?

I honestly need pages to answer this question, because I’m a voracious reader and so many authors have inspired and continue to inspire me. I’ve been reading and writing since I was very young, but it wasn’t until I was twenty-nine that I decided to write my first full-length novel. And it was because I had just finished Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. I fell in love with her voice, wit, intelligence, and ability to appeal to such a wide audience by creating a character we all root for. That was what I wanted to do. It took four more novels and seventeen years to see my dream realized with the publication of Woman on the Edge. In those seventeen years, authors like Gilly Macmillan, Lisa Jewell, Lisa Unger, Sue Grafton, Kate White, Mary Kubica, Heather Gudenkauf, Karen Katchur, Wendy Walker, Linwood Barclay, Lee Child, Peter Swanson, Joy Fielding, Roz Nay, Chevy Stevens, Catherine McKenzie, Robyn Harding, Jennifer Hillier, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Marissa Stapley, and so many others have kept me glued to their pages and motivated me to keep going and never stop.

When constructing a thriller, what comes first for you––the story or the ending?

Definitely the story. Usually it’s the premise, then the first line, and then the characters start to develop in my mind. Some authors hear their characters, but I see mine. I’m a visual person, and as I write, my chapters play out in front of me like movie scenes.

You deal with some heavy topics in Woman on the Edge. How did you approach adding these issues in to such a gripping thriller?

I don’t want to shy away from heavy topics, writing or reading them, no matter the genre. I think there is such importance in delving into gritty, real-life themes in commercial fiction because the subject matter is woven into the narrative and the characters’ backstories. Readers can then relate to these characters’ experiences, so they can both feel a connection and the joy of entertainment. Though I did not experience postpartum depression, I definitely dealt with the fear and anxiety that begins the moment you meet your baby for the first time. It meant a lot to me to open a window into that worry to create more discussion around the challenges of new motherhood. Parenting is hard! And we try to do it all, so well and so fast, and we sometimes pay for that by not taking care of ourselves. I wanted a feminist approach because women are so complex, deep, and strong, and we strive, even thrive, as we handle whatever’s thrown at us. I’m also very interested in power and wealth as a driving force toward happiness, and how being rich doesn’t necessarily bring satisfaction.

Readers may not know this, but you're also an editor. Do you think that changes your writing experience at all?

It absolutely does, and in the best ways for me, I think. I’m so lucky to edit manuscripts written by such talented authors, and it’s helped me focus my writing on the internal and external goals and motivations of my characters, how much backstory to include and when, the beats and pacing. It’s also made me understand how important an editor is, and that I can’t self-edit as thoroughly as someone else can edit for me. We simply can’t always see what’s actually on the page as opposed to what we think is there because it’s in our minds. We’re too close to it to be completely objective. Like I hope my clients are when I edit for them, I have a very tough skin for critiques and relish the most honest, toughest feedback so I can improve. I only want the best for my clients, and my editors only want me to produce the best work I can. To me, that’s a gift.

Samantha M. Bailey

Samantha M. Bailey

Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist, and freelance editor. Her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Village Post, and Oxford University Press, among other publications. She was a writer-in-residence for Kobo Writing Life at BookExpo America 2013. She is the co-founder of BookBuzz, a promotional and interactive author-reader event held in New York City and Toronto. Woman on the Edge is her debut novel. Connect with her on Twitter @SBaileyBooks and on her website at SamanthaBailey.com.

The Majesties

Without spoilers, can you explain your novel in three sentences?

Set in a wealthy Chinese-Indonesian family, The Majesties opens with a mass murder: a woman finds out her sister has poisoned everyone at their grandfather’s birthday banquet, and she is the sole survivor. But she’s trapped in a coma, and in order to figure out why her sister did it, she must sift through her memories and recent discoveries about the family’s dark past. Think literary thriller plus opulent dysfunction plus sociopolitical critique, with traces of gothic sci-fi.

Families are complicated (even more so in your novel!). What are some of your favorite fictional families?

The Jia family of The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin makes me especially happy. I love that novel’s treatment of the boisterous chaos of extended family life. I have a tender spot for the Nolan family of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I was addicted to in my early teens. Of course, there’s more to life than novels, and I’m a big fan of the family in the short story “Two,” from Julie Koh’s Portable Curiosities. The piece offers a bitingly satirical commentary on breezy upper-class ambition through its portrayal of the father, but also a very moving portrait of impractical, sentimental goodness via the second child, whose name is Two.

There is a lot of fantastic behind the scenes information on the elite lifestyle these characters lived. How did you go about researching their world?

The circles my family moves in have some overlap with this world. So believe it or not, this information comes from my own experiences growing up, although as an adult I’ve sought some distance from this life.

Were there any books, movies, or TV shows that influenced you when writing?

Timothy Mo’s Redundancy of Courage provided a framework for thinking about the simultaneous villainy and victimhood experienced by the Chinese-Indonesian family of the novel. The narrators of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette have provided useful models when it came to constructing characters who engage in severe self-repression. I reread F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, and Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier in order to create a similar tone of entitlement and matter-of-course privilege for my narrator’s voice. And I was reading William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! when I wrote the first draft, which probably accounts for the nightmarish sections describing Estella’s marriage to Leonard.

There is some great fashion-related content thanks to the characters’ glamorous lifestyles and line of work. How did you come up with that story line?

Funnily enough, the fashion part of the storyline—where a character founds a luxury fashion house that creates accessories from sedated insects—sprang more out of my fascination for insects rather than an interest in high fashion. I got “into” insects when I was in high school and have continued to dabble in them since. I’ve kept mantises and hissing cockroaches as pets, I volunteered briefly in the entomological collections at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and I used to pin and label insects at my part-time job at a natural history store in Berkeley. I’ve always been struck by the beauty of insects—the micro-elegance of their structure, form, function, color. Somehow, to me, incorporating insects into the narrative seemed natural. I felt they worked well on a metaphorical level, given my vision for the work as a whole.

Samantha M. Bailey

Tiffany Tsao

Tiffany Tsao was born in San Diego, California, and lived in Singapore and Indonesia during her childhood and young adulthood. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a PhD in English. In addition to writing, she translates Indonesian fiction and poetry.

The Tenant

Can you describe The Tenant in fifteen words or less?

A writer’s unfinished crime novel seemingly predicts an actual murder in the city of Copenhagen.

You have worked on films before and The Tenant has a cinematic quality. Were you inspired by any films when you started writing?

In general, I am not often inspired by films. A film is a very finished and polished thing, and I tend to find works of fiction that are open to interpretation more inspiring to my own creative process. That said, I do see every single book scene as a film inside my head and know exactly how the characters look. In other words: I shall be a pest on the future film sets of my books, hah!

Were any of your characters in The Tenant based on real people?

Each and every character in The Tenant has inherited traits from real people, as well as from myself. Sometimes it’s a hairdo, sometimes a figure of speech or a way of moving. All real elements are disassembled, though, and put back together in new ways; I would never depict someone exactly as they are in real life. But I do strive to make every character relatable, even the bad guys—especially the bad guys.

Did you ever envision a different ending for the book?

Not only did I envision a different ending, I wrote and published it! The first Danish edition of The Tenant had a slightly different ending to what it has now. But I was never really satisfied with that first version, so last year I reworked the whole thing and published it anew. As an author you grow and learn, and it can sometimes be quite painful to look back on those early mistakes. I always want to change and improve everything so I have to abstain from reading my own books, otherwise I would be rewriting them the whole time.

What book do you wish you had written?

I have several literary idols, Dorothy L. Sayers, DBC Pierre, and Donna Tartt being some of them. But my all-time greatest heroine will always be Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine), who in my mind has written some of the best crime fiction ever. Her novel No Night Is Too Long is pure genius and I would love to have written it.

Katrine Engberg

Katrine Engberg

A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg has launched a groundbreaking career as a novelist with the publication of The Tenant. She is now one of the most widely read and beloved crime authors in Denmark. The Tenant is her debut novel and the start of a series hailed for its artful originality and beautiful prose.

Follow Me

In Follow Me, your main character Audrey is a social media star. Do you use social media and do you ever worry about people online finding out too much about your life?

I’m a big fan of social media in general, and I spend a lot of time each day (possibly too much time) perusing Twitter and Instagram. That said, I don’t post a lot of my own content, largely because I worry about oversharing. I haven’t always been this careful—I used to post tons of photos on Facebook and regularly “check into” businesses on Foursquare, which I would then cross-post to Twitter. I shudder when I think about how I blithely announced my location to anyone who cared enough to look. I started to become circumspect with what I posted online when I started working at a law firm and wanted to ensure I was maintaining a professional image, and I really began to think extra carefully about what I posted once I became a mother. Now that I have more than my own safety to consider, I always carefully consider whether what I’m about to post will somehow reveal details about either my child, my home, or my current location. If only Audrey took the same precautions . . .

Your first book was just made into a TV series called Truth Be Told, starring Octavia Spencer. Who would you want to play Audrey and her best friend Cat if Follow Me were made into a movie or series?

Seeing Truth Be Told on the screen was so amazing! Octavia Spencer was obviously incredible, and Lizzy Caplan and Aaron Paul were just as I imagined the Buhrman twins and Warren Cave. My dream casting of Audrey in Follow Me would be a young Sienna Miller, but I could also see her being played by Leighton Meester, if she channeled a certain amount of Blair Waldorf’s self-absorption. For Cat, I can absolutely see her being played by Jennifer Lawrence—I think she could really nail Cat’s high-achieving-but-wildly-self-conscious thing.

How did you research for this book? Did you uncover any scary details about internet privacy while researching?

My inspiration and a large chunk of my research came from an article called “Meet the Men Who Spy on Women through Their Webcams.” As horrifying as that title is, the contents of the article were even worse. It discussed how relatively easy it is for a person to install something called a remote administration tool (or RAT) on your computer without your knowledge. Once the RAT is installed, they can remotely access your computer—including your webcam. Some of these people just want to play pranks on you or mine your hard drive for financial information, but some of these people specifically seek out women’s webcams and then surreptitiously watch them as they go about their daily lives. They even make a game out of “collecting” women. Frankly, it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever read.

Do you ever base your characters on real people?

While I don’t purposefully base any characters on real people, I’m sure that certain traits or characteristics of people I know make their way into my work. Honestly though, it’s usually bits of myself that I leave scattered through the book. For example, Cat is an attorney like I used to be, and there’s a mention that Audrey’s ex-boyfriend Nick never properly replaces the lid on anything—something that’s one of my unfortunate habits as well.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished an early copy of Vanessa Lillie’s For the Best, which is about a woman who sets out to clear her own name after she’s been accused of murder, and I loved it! Right now, I’m reading Lori Rader-Day’s The Lucky One, which is about a woman who was kidnapped as a child and comes across an image of the man who kidnapped her. I can’t put it down! After that, I have an early copy of Megan Collins’s Behind the Red Door queued up, and I’m extremely excited about it!

Kathleen Barber

Kathleen Barber

Kathleen Barber’s first novel, Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping), has been adapted for television by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Kathleen was raised in Galesburg, Illinois, and is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and son. Follow Me is her second novel.

Darling Rose Gold

Can you describe your book in one sentence with no spoilers?

Darling Rose Gold is the story of a young woman who, despite being poisoned by her mother for 18 years, makes a calculated decision to take her in after her prison sentence.

What was your inspiration for this novel?

I learned about Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) from my best friend, who is a school psychologist. The more research I did, the more fascinated I became. The perpetrators of MSBP are usually mothers—interesting in itself since the mother/child bond is supposed to be sacred. Perpetrators act out of a need for attention or love from authority figures within the medical community, a motivation both intriguing and heartbreaking. I wanted to get inside the head of one of these mothers, to try to understand whether they know they’re lying or if they believe they’re doing what’s best for their child. Along came Patty Watts.

If you could cast anyone in a movie version of Darling Rose Gold, who would the actors be?

The two main characters in Darling Rose Gold are Patty Watts, an overbearing mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and Rose Gold Watts, a young woman who has grown up isolated from the rest of the world because of her mother.

For Patty, I’d choose Kathy Bates to play her. Bates has the same physical presence and brassiness. She moves effortlessly between spunky and vicious, just like Patty does.

For Rose Gold, I’d choose Julia Garner of recent Ozark fame. Garner is one of those actors who can play the innocent as well as she plays the mischief maker. She would need to be able to do both in order to portray the character changes Rose Gold goes through.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel?

I read short- and long-form firsthand accounts of survivors, as well as news articles and a medical textbook. I started by researching the illness (MSBP) in broad strokes, then began to build profiles of both perpetrators and survivors. From these general profiles I was able to establish a few traits my main characters, Patty and Rose Gold, had to have but then fleshed them out to make them my own. I also researched commonly faked illnesses, rigged lab tests, harmful substances to put in the bloodstream, and how real-life perpetrators trick doctors. Not exactly light reading!

Tell us five books in your TBR pile.

Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe, Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal, Vox by Christina Dalcher, and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. The only issue is choosing between which to read first!

Stephanie Wrobel

Stephanie Wrobel

Stephanie Wrobel has an MFA from Emerson College and has had short fiction published in the Bellevue Literary Review. Before turning to fiction, she worked as a creative copywriter at various advertising agencies. Stephanie grew up in Chicago, Illinois, but now lives in the UK with her husband and her dog, Moose Barkwinkle. Visit her on StephanieWrobel.com and connect with her on Twitter @StephWrobel and Instagram @StephanieWrobel.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

What was your inspiration behind the name of your main character, Temperance Brennan?

Back in the day, I had a student named Tempe. I liked the name. But my main character was raised as an Irish Catholic lass, so she needed a more formal, “baptismal” name. Thus, the elongation to Temperance. Since the character of Tempe’s daughter, Katy, is an amalgam of my two daughters, I didn’t want my son Brendan to feel left out. Thus, Brennan.

A Conspiracy of Bones is the nineteenth novel in your Temperance Brennan series—do you have a favourite side-character from the entire series?

You’ve got to love crusty old Erskine “Skinny” Slidell. I think he is the most fun character to write.

How do you keep up to date with all the developments in forensic science?

I attend the annual meeting of our primary professional association, The American Academy of Forensic Sciences I read our main professional journal, The Journal of Forensic Sciences I maintain contacts with my colleagues throughout many fields of forensic science.

What are you reading right now?

Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance. It is for research for book number twenty. And for fun, Daisy Jones and the Six.

Do you have any strange habits when you are writing? E.g., music you listen to, things you eat or drink, places you get your best ideas, etc.

I like isolation and quiet. No music, maybe just a purring cat. In the morning, I drink coffee. Later in the day, I switch to sparkling water (my grandkids call it spicy water) with lemon. Any place I travel can stimulate story ideas. Guatemala. Afghanistan. Yellowknife. Charleston. Chicago. The Blue Ridge Mountains. The Canadian Maritimes. All have been featured in Temperance Brennan stories.

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs' first novel Déjà Dead was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. A Conspiracy of Bones is Kathy’s nineteenth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels. Dr. Reichs is one of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and as a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec. Visit Kathy at KathyReichs.com.

The Last High

As an Emergency Room doctor you must have a varied and hectic schedule. How do you get into the zone to write?

Paradoxically, I find that the busier I am in the Emergency Department, the better I write, before or even after a shift. I feed off the anticipation and the energy. One of the most pivotal skills of an emergency physician is his or her ability to multi-task. And I’m often most inspired when I am juggling several balls. Maybe the momentum from one career is transferrable to another. Or maybe I’m just making crap up. Regardless, I’m not going to question it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than to feel the creative wind at my back, and my work at the hospital somehow helps to whip it up.

Your bookThe Last High delves into the seedy underground of downtown Vancouver. How did you research for the book?

Having worked for the past twenty years in a major downtown teaching hospital, which services Vancouver’s sizable (and vulnerable) substance-dependent population, I have come to understand all too well the medical and personal toll of the opioid crisis. What I was relatively unfamiliar with, before writing The Last High, were the criminal elements that perpetuate this tragedy. For that research, I was so fortunate to have access to a generous friend who also happens to be an undercover cop immersed in this criminal world. My friend JD—whose true identity I had to conceal in my book’s acknowledgments—gave me a crash course in the underworld of drug trafficking. His real-life anecdotes alone would make for a compelling read, and without his guidance, I couldn’t have created such a gritty and realistic backdrop to tell what I view as a vital cautionary tale.

Are there any characters in The Last High based on real patients or colleagues?

There are, but I’d have to kill you if I revealed them to you.

Do you have any literary icons that inspire you?

I have too many to list. When it comes to medical fiction, I still idolize Michael Crichton for his gift of easily imparting huge scientific themes and concepts within such suspenseful reads. As a writer, I also admire Ken Follett and Robert Harris for the diversity of their stories—to be able switch from contemporary thrillers to sweeping historical epics. I strive to emulate that same variety.

Are there any takeaways that you hope people will keep with them after reading The Last High?

I’m not sure I’ve ever written a book where the themes I’m conveying are more important to me. I hope the reader will get a sense of the massive scope and tragedy that is the opioid crisis. I also hope they will realize that there is no one criminal or organized crime syndicate to blame. So many are culpable, from the gangs who fuel the trade to the medical professionals who have allowed prescription-related opioid abuse to reach the level it has. But perhaps, most importantly, I hope people will see there is no one typical casualty of the opioid epidemic. The victims come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages. This is a crisis that has potential to touch anyone and rob so many of everything.

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kalla is the international bestselling author of We All Fall Down, Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit Daniel at DanielKalla.com or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.

The Swap

Without giving too much away, can you describe The Swap in one sentence?

The Swap is about two couples, one night of sexual shenanigans, and an obsessive teenager who knows way too much about what the adults are up to.

This book, as well as some of your previous books, explores the intricacies of female friendship. Why is that topic so interesting to write about?

They say that male friendships revolve around shared activities, while female friendships revolve around shared thoughts and emotions. Women can grow to really need and rely on each other, so the end of a female friendship can be as devastating as a marital divorce. And the reasons these relationships go wrong are wide and varied, providing great fodder for suspense novels.

This book also involves the world of social media and influencer culture. Has your opinion of social media changed since writing this book?

Before writing The Swap, my social media experience revolved around the book world, which is a pretty warm and supportive place. As research, I followed a number of high-profile influencers on Instagram. I can see how young, impressionable viewers could be made to feel that their faces, their bodies, and their lifestyles don’t measure up. Social media contributes to an epidemic of insecurity and low self-esteem. Savvy viewers know that what they are seeing is fake and photoshopped, but to many, it’s aspirational. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with social media when I was growing up.

Without spoilers, who is your favorite character and why?

The teenager, Low Morrison, is my favorite character. Even though she’s only eighteen, she sees the world in such a jaded, cynical way that I find unique and funny.

If you could cast anyone to be in an adaptation of The Swap, who would you choose?

I’d love to see Margot Robbie as Freya, Emily Blunt as Jamie, and I think they could find a really amazing newcomer for Low (a tall gangly teenager just waiting for her big break!). Max, the hot hockey player, could be played by Martin Sensmeier, and John Krasinski would be great as the novelist, Brian.

What are your top three summer reads?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Hurry Home by Roz Nay, and Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier.

What are you binge-watching right now?

I’m re-watching The Wire. And watching Normal People, based on the book by Sally Rooney. So far, it’s a brilliant adaptation.

Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding is the author of several books, including the international bestseller, The Party, and wrote and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and children. Visit her at RobynHarding.com or follow her on Instagram @RHardingWriter or Facebook @AuthorRobynHarding.

You Can't Catch Me

Can you describe your book in 3 sentences or less?

A woman named Jessica Williams meets another woman with the same name in an airport bar. A week later, all of her money has been stolen by the second Jessica. When the police refuse to help, Jessica One decides to find Jessica Two on her own and stumbles across a string of other Jessicas who have all been defrauded by the same woman.

What inspired you to write about identity theft?

A friend of mine has a common name and she was having trouble crossing the border because someone with the same name and birthday was wanted by the police. I also met someone with the exact same name as me, including the same middle name. It made me think one day who if you had a common name you wouldn't even have to steal someone's identity to steal their money, because, on paper, you are them.

Cults play an interesting part in the plot of the story, what research did you have to do for that aspect of the novel?

I've been obsessed with cults for a long time so I didn't do any specific research here, just drew on my knowledge.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have trouble writing sitting up. I am usually half-supine on the couch.

What snacks do you have around the house to help fuel your writing?

Oh no snacks are my downfall. I DON'T keep them around the house, but if I did, it would be cheese Pringles. Or any kind of chip, really.

Does your work as a lawyer come into your writing or do you keep them totally separate?

I try to keep them totally separate. I think being a lawyer brings a certain sensibility to my writing, but I generally tend not to write too much about legal things or the type of work that I do as a lawyer.

Catherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie's I’ll Never Tell and The Good Liar were national bestsellers. Her previous novels have been translated into multiple languages. A graduate of McGill University, Catherine practices law in Montreal, Quebec, where she was born and raised. Visit her at CatherineMcKenzie.com or follow her on Twitter @CEMcKenzie1 or Instagram @CatherineMcKenzieAuthor.

Hurry Home

Hurry Home is the second thriller you have written. What draws you to write thrillers rather than other genres of fiction?

I think I live a pretty sunshiney life, but have always been compelled by what happens in the shadows. I watch creepy TV (although never before bedtime, too scary) and love it when a scene is so well-imagined it makes your skin crawl. People are endlessly complex and secretive, so it’s a fun genre. Everything I write aligns with the premise that we’re all hiding something...

Who is your all-time favourite thriller writer?

There’s a wealth of talent out there, but I have to go with Lisa Jewell. She’s so good at weaving in thoughtful, almost philosophical prose and her characters really stay with me. I still think about that basement in Then She Was Gone...

In Hurry Home, the two protagonists are sisters. Did you draw on your own relationships to write about their sisterly bond?

I think I must have, although I’d argue that my relationship with my two sisters is a lot less complex than Ruth and Alex’s! What drew me to sisterhood as a backdrop is the devotion that’s inherent in the bond. Even when sisters aren’t getting along—even when terrible thriller-ingredient things are happening—there’s play to be had in the lengths they’ll go to for each other. I had fun with that.

What is your writing process—do you plan out the entire story, or does it come to life as you write?

I used to be a pantser and now I’m fully reformed. In my life, I’m quite slapdash and never really need a plan, but what I found with my writing is that it benefits from having a structure. Hurry Home came to life as it went, but I’ve just handed in the next thriller, which was a lot more disciplined. It was also a lot quicker to write...

If you could invite four literary icons from any time period to dinner, who would you invite and why?

Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, and Harper Lee. I’d fawn over all four of them, and tell them how influential they’ve been in terms of how they write and what they write. They all pushed limits and created change. I’d also sit Mark and Margaret next to each other, because they’d be hilarious.

Roz Nay

Roz Nay

Roz Nay is the bestselling author of Hurry Home and Our Little Secret, which won the Douglas Kennedy Prize for best foreign thriller in France and was nominated for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Mystery and the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award. Roz has lived and worked in Africa, Australia, the US, and the UK. She now lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two children. Visit her at RozNay.com or connect with her on Twitter @RozNay1 and Instagram @RozNay.

Three Perfect Liars

Describe Three Perfect Liars in under ten words.

A fatally toxic mix of office politics, women, and motherhood.

What inspired you to become a thriller writer?

I love reading thrillers and crime. It is my go-to read for the pure adrenaline and suspense and a twist that catches me out. Having always wanted to write a book since I was a child, for me there was just no other choice when it came to starting my first book.

If Three Perfect Liars was optioned to be a TV series, who would play the three leading women?

Oh, this is such a brilliant question, because in my head I had the faces of three women when I wrote the book. I had their photos in my phone so I could describe them, though they aren’t all actresses and therefore not who would play the characters! But for pure looks I imagined British presenter Emma Willis for Mia, Meghan Markle for Laura, and Jennifer Lopez for Janie!!!! All beautiful women and completely out of any TV series league, I’m sure!

Are any of your characters in Three Perfect Liars based on real people?

No! None of my characters ever are, though their situations will often be (I went through something similar to Laura after my maternity leave) and some aspects of their personality will be based on people I know. It makes it much easier to write realistic reactions when you can imagine what a certain person might do, but they are never the whole character.

Who are your three favourite thriller writers at the moment?

Liane Moriarty for writing my favourite ever book (Big Little Lies), Rosamund Lupton for the brilliant way she writes, and recently I’ve read all Belinda Bauer’s books, which are great for crime thrillers.

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks was born and raised in the seaside town of Bournemouth on the south coast of England. After moving up to London for a short stint, she has since moved back to Bournemouth where she now lives with her husband and two children. Heidi has been writing since she was small, though for too many years her day time job and career in marketing got in the way. Now she writes full time and cannot think of anything she would rather be doing.