A family member of mine is part of a couples book club which meets every other month over food and wine to discuss their latest picks, which over the years have ranged from “The Far Pavilions,” by M.M. Kaye to “Master of the Senate,” by Robert Caro. I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed “Sweet Little Lies,” was put up by my family member as their pick for March/April, to be discussed in May. I jokingly said I was available to do a Skype session if they were interested. I was pleasantly surprised when they took me up on it.I was a little nervous, as I wasn’t sure what to expect, but still excited. We jumped right in with the book clubbers discussing their general impressions of the book and what surprised them the most while reading it. Among the questions I was asked (in no particular order) were:
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
(I was cooking dinner one night when the first line of the book just popped in my head – possibly because I had a knife in my hand at the time?)
Why did you have such a significant part of the action in New Orleans?
(A major theme of the book is things not being what they seem and I felt New Orleans embodied that perfectly.)
Did you ever find you’d written your characters into corners and if so, how did you write them out of it?
(All the time. When that happened, I had to step back and look at things from a different perspective, which allowed me to write my way out of the corner.)
Are the locales in Chicago that you mention real?
(For the most part, yes. I fudged a few things like residential addresses, but most everything else locale-wise is real.)
Who are some of your favorite writers?
(Mary Higgins Clark was an early influence. Joy Fielding is my author crush. Gillian Flynn is a new crush. I think Anita Shreve and Kate Atkinson are magnificent.)
Why did you choose to write suspense books?
(Suspense chose me. I grew up reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew and have always loved figuring out whodunit, etc. It was natural that I gravitated towards writing those types of stories.)
How often do you write?
Every day. Supposedly 2,000 words a day.)
Describe how you shaped these characters.
(It was all very organic. I knew I wanted a strong female protagonist, yet I wanted to mess with her a little by tearing her world apart. I also wanted to include some of the Chicago social scene, so I let a little bit of that guide me as well.)
What kind of research did you do?
(I spoke to a local police officer who graciously answered all of my nonsensical questions, as well as a criminal defense attorney. The mistakes are all my own.)
What’s your next book about?
(A creepy stalker!)
Some of the questions, such as how I came up with the idea for the book and what kind of research I did, were what I expected. Other questions like the setting, writing characters into a corner and why I chose suspense were not, which was pretty cool, since I’ve never been asked those before and definitely made me think.
In honor of part of the book being set in New Orleans, the group had jambalaya, which was awesome. I asked them to have a bowl for me. To keep the New Orleans theme going, their next book is “The Tin Roof Blowdown,” by James Lee Burke, which takes place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
I had a blast doing the Skype session and hope to do more in the future. In the meantime, I better get back to writing!