by Barb, who as of when she’s posting this, has no idea what U.S. state (or what mental state) she will be in when it’s published.
If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you’ve heard of Hallie Ephron. She’s been our guest on the blog several times, and has been a teacher, mentor, and friend to each of us. Not to mention, she writes for one of our favorite blogs, the Jungle Red Writers.
Now she has a fabulous new book, You’ll Never Know, Dear. I devoured it in two greedy days. Spoiler alert, I loved it and you will, too. Please welcome Hallie back to the Wicked Cozies.
Hallie: I imagined the book opening with two of my main characters sipping sweet tea and eating egg-salad sandwiches on a front porch hung with wisteria. The older woman is a doll maker. I knew we weren’t in New England. Or Hollywood. Or the Bronx. Or anywhere else I’ve set a story.
When I envisioned the town around them, I “saw” Beaufort, South Carolina. I’d been there a few times. Historic. Gracious. Riverfront. Perfect. Then I fictionalized it to Bonsecours because the real Beaufort has such an incredible history (it rivals nearby Savannah) and has already been immortalized by writers far more brilliant than I.
Barb: The book is about a crime in the past, the abduction of a little girl and her doll in the 1970s. The narrative takes place entirely in the present, when the doll comes back. Why did you decide on that timeline? Was it an easy decision? Did you every write any of the scenes set in the past?
Hallie: Such an interesting question. No, I never considered writing full blown flashbacks, or starting in the past which is where the story really begins (as do most!) I wanted secrets from the past to be uncovered in the present, by the reader as much as by the characters. That’s why I couldn’t let the grandmother, Miss Sorrel, narrate. She knows too much.
Barb: You’ve recently published an updated edition of your acclaimed writing book, Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: The Complete Guide to Mystery, Suspense, and Crime. I’ve always wondered, does thinking through and externalizing your writing process–i.e. consciously knowing what you know, help you as a writer? Or does it make that voice from your internal editor even louder?
Hallie: Spontaneity has its limits. Then it helps if you have some idea what you’re doing. Knowing what I know is especially useful in plotting, making sure there’s an arc for the main character, making sure that something HAPPENS…every so often.
Barb: Recently, Wicked guest, Lori Rader-Day, posted here about why she writes standalones. You switched from series to standalones. Why? Have you ever wanted to go back?
Hallie: Only when I start a new novel and have to start all over with new characters, new setting, new dynamics. Once I’ve got a story up and running I never look back. I was afraid switching to standalones would be bad from a business perspective–that my publisher wouldn’t maintain my backlist. But they have, even better than my previous publisher did for the series.
Barb: What are you working on now?
Another standalone, this one set back in New England. I’m only 50 pages in and no one’s been murdered yet. But for once I know who’s the victim and who did it. Or at least I think I do.
HALLIE EPHRON is the New York Times bestselling author of suspense novels reviewers call “deliciously creepy” page turners. He new novel, You’ll Never Know, Dear, tells the story of a little girl’s disappearance and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to her fate. The Boston Globe called it “an accessible, easy read that deftly integrates the mystery genre with women’s fiction, it’s made compelling by the depth and resonance of the relationships.” In Night Night, Sleep Tight, Hallie took her experiences growing up in Beverly Hills in a family of writers and wove them into a suspense novel with echoes of a scandalous true crime. Her Never Tell a Lie was adapted for film as “And Baby Will Fall” for the Lifetime Movie Network. She is a four-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and author of Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel, an Edgar Award finalist.
Readers: Do you like standalones? Novels of the south? Suspense?
If so, this book is for you.