That’s a tough one, kind of like asking which of my children I love best. But if I have to pick a scene, I’d choose one from the first half of the book, set during the three main characters’ college days. Three very different young women meet as freshman roommates and form an intense, toxic friendship. There are a couple of scenes early on that flesh out the dynamics of their relationship that are incredibly fun to read (and were fun to write). One scene involves a frat party that wild-child Kate drags her roommates to. Misfit Aubrey gets blind drunk and ends up hurling into the bushes, to be rescued by good-girl Jenny. The smell of beer hangs in the air, and the scene will remind every reader of her own wild youth — or if she didn’t have one, make her glad she didn’t! The second scene I’m thinking of is even more evocative and haunting. After a snowstorm, Kate and Aubrey get stoned and go sledding late at night in an empty park with wealthy party boy Griff. Aubrey pines for Griff, and Griff pines for Kate. This love triangle ends up being central to the action, and the feelings that come up in this scene are powerful and gripping, and – I hope – really memorable to read about.
Kate is the center of everything in It’s Always the Husband. She’s wealthy, privileged, blonde and gorgeous, and seems like she has it all. She’s also a free spirit, with a ruby in her belly-button and an insatiable appetite for boys, drugs, parties and drama. Everybody is drawn to her. But ultimately, she’s bad news. Not only does she have a wild side, she has a dark side, and her friendship can be as dangerous as it is seductive. Writing Kate was a challenge because every aspect of her character has to work in order for the reader to believe the action that unfolds in the book. The reader needs to fall madly in love with Kate, but also retain enough skepticism about her to understand why other characters behave as they do. She was difficult to write, but also really fun to write, and I hope you’ll find her very compelling to read about.
How much space do I have to tell you about all the wonderful books in my TBR pile? Like many writers, I’m a book hoarder. Between my actual, physical nightstand and my e-reader, I have enough books to keep me busy for months, if not years, to come. Some current notables: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Break Down by B.A. Paris, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, Where It Hurts by Reed Farrell Coleman, Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson, The Couple Next Door by Shari La Pena, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I could go on, but I’ll stop before I use up all the space on this site!
I am fortunate to write full-time, which means I don’t have a day job to impinge on my writing time and get in the way of my creativity. There is a down-side to this luxury, however: the writing expands to take over my entire life! I think about my work-in-progress all day, every day, and wake up in the middle of the night to make notes under the blanket by the light of my phone so I don’t wake my husband. In terms of the actual process, I start with a proposal that has to be approved in advance by my editor. The proposal is a summary of the concept of the book, and includes the basics of the plot, characters and setting. Once that’s approved, you’d think I would be good to go and just fly along. But it’s surprising how little guidance even the most detailed summary provides about what to write on each page. I end up re-organizing and adjusting as I write, using 4×6 inch index cards to makes notes for each scene. I post the cards in order on a bulletin board and then shuffle them around, again and again, until I get it right. The writing itself is magic. I can’t explain how I know what to write next, but once the prep work is done, the characters and story just take over. Once I have a solid first draft, my editor reads it and gives me notes. Then the rewrite process begins. For every page that makes it into the finished book, I probably wrote three to four pages that got edited, changed and rewritten beyond all recognition. The end product has to be good enough to grip readers’ imaginations and keep them guessing about whodunnit until the final page.
That differs from book to book. For It’s Always the Husband, I took inspiration from my own college days. I wanted to write a book about female friendship gone very, very wrong. I needed a setting that would explain why three extremely different women, who have little in common and are clearly bad influences on one another, might form an intense friendship. I found the answer in memories of my own freshman year of college. You leave home for the first time and are suddenly surrounded by kids your own age, who may be smarter, prettier, richer, and, yes, nastier than you. That moment is incredibly intense, fraught with drama and peril as well as learning and growth. I think it makes for a very compelling read!