Monday, June 17, 2019

DEAR WIFE, by author KIMBERLY BELLE

From the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing comes a riveting new novel of suspense about a woman who, in a fight for survival, must decide just how far she’ll go to escape the person she once loved.

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning—one with a new look, new name, and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. 

Reviews ~ 

Multiple plot twists keep the reader guessing all the way to the stunning conclusion, and the link between Beth and Sabine comes as one of the book's bigger surprises. Belle once again displays a knack for high suspense. - Publishers Weekly

A woman on the run, a grieving husband, a bereft sister, a brokenhearted lover, a determined detective  - or are they? Nothing is as it seems in Kimberly Belle's, knockout thriller, DEAR WIFE. I tore through the pages of this clever, multi-layered stunner that not even the most astute suspense fan will be able to see what's coming until the final, jaw-dropping twist. Clear your calendar and put DEAR WIFE at the top of your to-be-read list. Five breathtaking stars! - Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Before She Was Found

Subtle, insidious, clever... DEAR WIFE is spellbinding. I was hooked from the first page. You're going to love Kimberly Belle's latest outing. And you aren't going to see it coming... - JT Ellison, NYT bestselling author of Tear Me Apart

Kimberly Belle's DEAR WIFE is a powerhouse psychological thriller, filled with all the twists and turns of a woman crafting herself a new identity while escaping an abusive marriage. Masterfully written, Belle has outdone herself with this thrilling and emotionally complex tale. This one shines. - Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts

Some Q & A with Kimberly ~ 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m not one of those writers who penned her first novel in crayon. Writing was something I always dreamed of doing, but for the longest time, it fell by the wayside for a job that paid the bills. That job for me was nonprofit fundraising, and it definitely helped me hone my writing skills. Fundraising letters, website texts, scripts for meetings and events…I learned very quickly how to drill down to a powerful, poignant message that tugs at the heartstrings.

And then in 2008, the economy crashed and so did my job. By that point, I was pushing forty, and I still hadn’t written that novel I’d always dreamed of writing. I decided to see my sudden unemployment as a now-or-never moment, so I sat down and my computer and….realized I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the next couple of years learning how to build a story. I took courses, read everything I could get my hands on, found some critique partners and mentors, and then I wrote a book and then another. I was almost done with the second story when I attended a local conference and pitched it to a couple of agents—a process kind of like speed dating and just as nerve-wracking. One of them, Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Lit, signed me by the end of the month, then sold both books to Mira in a 2-book deal. I’ve since moved to Park Row Books, but both imprints fall under Harlequin/Harper Collins, so I haven’t gone very far.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes it’s a news snippet or article, like the one about compassionate release that inspired The Last Breath, or a bumpy plane ride that planted the idea for The Marriage Lie.

But sometimes, when you’re really lucky, ideas fall into your lap. Dear Wife was one of those ideas and a gift from the writing gods. I had just spent months putting a proposal together for another story when the idea for Dear Wife woke me up in the middle of the night. My eyes popped open, and the story was right there, fully formed. I knew my characters, the major plot points, how the story began and ended. While the house slept, I stared at the ceiling and watched the story play like a movie in my head. In the morning, I called my editor and pulled the first proposal, then asked for another week or two to throw together a new one for Dear Wife. Thankfully, she loved the story just as much as I did.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

Dear Wife is my second book that deals with domestic violence, a subject that was inspired by a dear friend whose backstory is similar to my main character’s in Three Days Missing. When that story opens, she is in the midst of a very messy, very public divorce from a husband who beat her in a very public setting—pretty much exactly what happened to my friend. It’s a fictionalized story crafted around a real-life one, and writing it helped me sort through all the emotions I felt, the sadness and helplessness and anger while watching my friend go through her divorce. I thought I’d worked through all my emotions until the idea for Dear Wife popped into my head, and I realized I had more to say, this time through a woman who is fighting back in the most brave, kick-ass way. Beth is angry and determined and willing to risk it all for her freedom—all the ingredients for the best kind of heroine.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

That last scene on the rooftop was my favorite, and probably the easiest to write. I can’t say much about it without giving away a big part of the plot, but I really enjoyed the way Beth’s voice came out so loud and strong. I was channeling her or she was channeling me, I don’t know, but whatever it was, it really worked. That scene flew out of me.

How do you market your work?

Park Row provides me with a publicist who is a master in getting my books into the right hands, but he has dozens of authors just like me, clamoring for his attention, so I also hire an external publicist to supplement his work. When a book is coming out, I work my contacts, as well, and I purchase Facebook and other ads around publication time. I spend a good chunk of my advance marketing the book, an investment that seems to have paid off.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

The biggest advice I can give to any writer is to keep writing. Letter for letter, word for word. Don’t wait for an agent, a publisher, a contract, just keep writing and polishing your craft, every single day. Treat your writing like a job. Set your alarm and go to “work” behind your laptop every day, five days a week, because if you wait for inspiration to strike—or for a story idea to come upon you—you’ll never get anything written. Some days you’ll end with a lot of words, other days you’ll stare at your screen and pull out your hair. In the end, it all evens out, and eventually, you have a book.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing up a story about a newlywed woman who discovers a woman’s body under their lakeside home dock. The police show up, and in her shock and the pressure of the moment, she follows her husband’s lead and lies about ever having seen the woman—which she did the previous day in passing. It’s not a big lie, and she doesn’t really think much of it at the time, but soon that one little lie turns into an avalanche. As the police close in on the woman’s killer, my main character uncovers dangerous truths about her husband and her marriage, as well as dark secrets that have been simmering below the lake’s currents for years. No title yet, but coming sometime in 2020.

This idea was something I’d been stewing on for ages, a book set in a remote mountain lake town where money plays a big role in the town’s dynamics. My main character’s marriage to an older, wealthier man gives her a rags-to-riches backstory, which reveals unexpected truths about her character. People will break their moral compasses for a host of primal reasons: hate, love, envy, passion, survival—and money. 

kimberly s. belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of five novels, including the domestic suspense, Dear Wife (June 2019). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller and her work has been translated into a dozen languages. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. 
To connect with Kimberly ~ 
http://kimberlybellebooks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks/
https://www.instagram.com/kimberlysbelle/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7778742.Kimberly_Belle

Dear Wife. Some vows are meant to be broken.  Coming 6.25
Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Indiebound | Kobo | Google Play




Thursday, April 11, 2019

MY LOVELY WIFE, by author SAMANTHA DOWNING

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.


Reviews ~ 

#1 Library Reads, IndieNext, and Amazon Best of the Month in Thriller!
"A dark and irresistible debut."—People

“The thriller we’re most excited to stay up with all night.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Side effects of reading this include sleepless nights, and awkward looks from strangers on the subway due to your horrified expression.”—Cosmopolitan


“Will shock even the savviest suspense readers.”—Real Simple

“A new twist on the genre.”—Refinery29


“If you read one book this year, make it My Lovely Wife.”—Betches


“Wow! My Lovely Wife is a stunner—full of twists, well-drawn characters, and riveting suspense.”—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author
 

Some Q & A with Samantha ~ 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I’m originally from California and now live in New Orleans. My writing began as a natural extension of being such a big reader. I started with short stories, moved to novels, and I’ve been writing steadily for years now.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I do, I’ve been working since I was a teenager and I’ve had a salaried job throughout my entire adult life. It’s hard to imagine life without one – or without benefits! Becoming self-employed is a big, big leap.

Where do you get your ideas?

Anywhere, honestly. I can be inspired by a person, a TV show, a movie, or a real-life crime. I like to twist things around into something new.
  
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

Yes and no. I’ve written novels before this one and I had no idea this would be the first one to get published. If I had known, maybe I would have revised it a few more times or changed a few things. Other times I think it worked out just perfectly. Sometimes, ignorance is best!

What are you working on now?

Another thriller! Hopefully as disturbing as this one.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

The family life scenes, yes. A lot of the conversations and family drama are things I have seen or experienced. But the murders? No, not that!

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a scene when Millicent and her husband climb a tree. It’s early in their relationship and it says a lot about them as a couple.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Concentrate on becoming the best writer you can be. I’ve been in a writer’s group for a few years now, and many writers concentrate more on the business of writing rather than the craft. I believe the reverse is better.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

The downfall is the deadlines! I’m still getting used to them. But the best parts far outweigh the downfalls – being a published writer, seeing your book in book stores, knowing that people outside your family are reading it!

Place you’d like to travel?

I would love to see China, Japan, and New Zealand. Basically the other side of the planet.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you very much for reading and I really, really hope you enjoy it!


Click on this link to Connect with Samantha:

https://www.samanthadowning.com/bio





Wednesday, March 27, 2019

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, by author, HEATHER GUDENKAUF

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.



“[A] scintillating psychological thriller....The stunning plot builds to a chillingly realistic ending. Gudenkauf is at the top of her game.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

"Eerily page-turning and wonderfully twisty, Before She Was Found is the riveting story of one troubled group of young girls struggling to belong and the frighteningly blurred boundary between where urban legend ends and real danger begins." —Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her

“Dark and stylish, Before She Was Found is an entertaining read that thrills to the last page.” —Linda Castillo, New York Times bestselling author of A Gathering of Secrets

“Heather Gudenkauf has done it again. She manages to merge engaging characters and terrifying topics resulting in unputdownable suspense set in a small Iowa town. In Before She Was Found, Gudenkauf takes us into the lives of three young girlfriends as a sleepover turns into tragedy. Examining today’s realities of social media and the added pressure our connected culture creates, Gudenkauf has crafted a gripping thriller.” —Kaira Rouda, bestselling author of Best Day Ever


Some Q & A with Heather ~


Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
I was so fortunate to be able to pursue careers that I am passionate about. I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a young girl and have spent the last twenty-seven years in education. Over the years I served as an elementary and middle school teacher, a special needs teacher, an instructional coach and as a Title I reading coordinator. I didn’t seriously consider writing until I had been teaching for several years and my three children were in school.

I started writing my first novel, The Weight of Silence after school was let out for summer break. I bought myself a beautiful journal and started writing the story longhand. I finished the first draft just before I went back to school that fall.

I think the key to being able to juggle multiple roles is to truly love what you do. For me, writing is an escape, an opportunity to explore new ideas, new characters, a chance to express myself creatively.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
When I’m not writing, you can usually find me doing one of four things: hiking, yoga, spending time with my family or reading.

One of my favorite pastimes is hiking with our German shorthair pointer, Lolo. We love to visit local nature preserves to hike the trails and bluffs. It’s a great time to clear my mind and often I’ll be able to work through some challenging plot points on a book I’m working on or where I’ll come up with new ideas.

I practice yoga several times per week. What I love about it is that we all come to our mats with our own expertise (or in my case, lack of) and we can move at our own pace and level. I’ve found that yoga really helps to balance me – mind and body – especially since I spend a lot of time sitting behind a computer.

I spend as much time with my family as possible. Though my three children are grown and out of the house, we get together as much as possible. I also spend a lot of time with my folks – in fact, we just celebrated my mom’s 80th and my dad’s 85th birthdays. I treasure every day that I have with them.

I always end my day with a good book. Currently, I’m reading a galley copy of Jason Pinter’s THE BROKEN WOMAN. So good!

Where do you get your ideas?
Just like for many of my novels, the idea for Before She Was Found was inspired by news headlines: A fictional online entity and real life collided with heartbreaking results. In Before She was Found, three young characters similarly become fascinated with an urban legend with devastating consequences.

Through my writing, I also wanted to explore how the lack of mental health services, family dynamics, and social media can impact actions and decisions that have life-altering costs.


Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or the decision to write?
There are so many authors that have inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a novelist but I’ll try and narrow it down to two.  As a young girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House on the Prairie series made me into a reader. I would spend hours and hours reading and re-reading the Little House series.

Willa Cather made me want to be a writer.
Willa Cather is my all-time favorite author and My Antonia – is my all-time favorite book. Cather’s writing is just beautiful. I love the way that she could describe the setting in a novel and it actually seemed to become a character within the story. Cather’s writings showed me the magic and power of words. I reread My √Āntonia and O Pioneers every single year and can only dream of writing such powerful stories.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
The best advice I have for beginning writers is to do just that ~ write. It is so important to set aside time each day to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper. It can be an hour or ten minutes. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the pages start to add up. I also think it is crucial for writers to be readers. Read far, wide and deep!
  
Place you’d like to travel?
I’m a definite homebody – but I do like to go on adventures now and then. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Italy. My dad was stationed there years ago when he was in the navy and the stories he tells makes me want to hop on the next plane. I’d love to hike through the Italian countryside, take in the all the sights and of course, sample the food!
  
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
I love talking reading and writing with fellow book lovers! 

Readers can connect with me in the following ways:







Tuesday, March 5, 2019

WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS, by author, ERIN BARTELS


We Hope for Better Things has it all: fabulous storytelling, an emotional impact that lingers long after you turn the last page, and a setting that immerses you. I haven't read such a powerful, moving story since I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. This book will change how you look at the world we live in. Highly recommended!"--Colleen CobleUSAToday bestselling author of the Rock Harbor series and The View from Rainshadow Bay


When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request--that she look up a relative she didn't know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos--seems like it isn't worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt's 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time--from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War--to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.


*****

"A timely exploration of race in America, We Hope for Better Things is an exercise of empathy that will shape many a soul."--Julie CantrellNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

"I applaud [Erin's] courage, her authenticity, her beautiful turn of phrase, the freshness of her imagery, and the depth of her story that speaks to a contemporary world where understanding is often absent. We Hope for Better Things is a remarkable debut novel."--Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of Everything She Didn't Say

"Storytelling at its finest. Erin Bartels delivers a riveting story of forbidden love, family bonds, racial injustice, and the power of forgiveness. We Hope for Better Things is a timely, sobering, moving account of how far we've come . . . and how much distance remains to be covered. A compulsively readable, incredibly powerful novel."--Lori Nelson SpielmanNew York Times bestselling author of The Life List

"In this powerful first novel . . . Bartels successfully weaves American history into a deeply moving story of heartbreak, long-held secrets, and the bonds of family."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review


Some Q & A with Erin ~

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
Funny how when someone asks us about ourselves, we define ourselves by our roles. My first inclination is to tell you that I am a 39-year-old pastor’s wife and mother of one 10-year-old son. My next is to tell you that I have worked in book publishing for 17 years. That I am a former English major and history minor. But you’d know me far better if I told you that I love to spend time in places where there are no signs or sounds of humanity. That I am a close observer of nature. That I’m an ambassador for my beautiful home state of Michigan. That I love to create—to write, paint, build—and I am passionate about the creations of others—music, movies, books, works of art, architecture. That I’m an introvert who prefers long discussions about thorny topics to small talk, which I loathe (yet must practice regularly as a pastor’s wife). That I live in a city but I would far prefer to live on the edge of some wild place.

I have always wanted to write, to contribute to the body of work that I studied in college and to the business I entered after I graduated. I think so many of us who love to read find ourselves itching to write. At some point I realized that if it was ever going to happen, I needed to stop thinking about how I should write a novel someday and just buckle down and do it. I quit a number of other activities to make time for writing, found a writing community in my city and online that would help keep me accountable, and dove into years of hard work, learning, and rejection. It has all been worth it.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I like getting out in nature, whether it’s an hour at our local nature center or a four-day backcountry camping trip or a week-long road trip, to marvel at and take pictures of the grandeur and intricacies of this incredible planet. Patient and quiet companions are welcome, though not required (I love being alone).

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I do! I have worked for an independent, family-owned publishing house for seventeen years, most of that time as a copywriter. I write back cover copy, catalog copy, and web copy for fiction and nonfiction books. All that writing that tries to get you to buy the book!

Where do you get your ideas?
To me, stories arise organically from the swirling combination of what I’m reading, what I’m watching, people I observe, ideas out in the Zeitgeist, news stories, trips I take, and conversations I have. Every once in a while, out of this soup, an idea rises to the surface. But usually, they’re not ready at that moment to act upon. They take a while time to develop. In fact, some take years to coalesce into something useable. But every little thought I have that might get included in a story idea someday has to be written down or it’s gone forever, so I always have notebooks with me. And if I find myself without one, I write on my hands and arms.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
One of the hardest things about writing for publication is waiting. Waiting for critique partners to give you their thoughts on your manuscript. Waiting for agents to respond to queries and then to read and respond to your manuscript. Waiting for a publishing house to take a shot on you. Waiting for your editor to get you her notes. Waiting on the whole publishing machine to do all the things it needs to do—the title, the cover, the marketing plan, production, etc.—so that the story you long to share with the world can actually be shared with the world. From initial concept to final publication, We Hope for Better Things was more than seven years in the making. That takes a lot of patience every step of the way.

How do you market your work?
I keep up a rather visible and busy online presence, from my website, blog, and podcast, to my social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ve been building relationships with readers and other writers for more than a decade, and those networks of real relationships are helping me spread the word now that I finally have a book published.

What are you working on now?
At the moment, I have three other novels in various stages of development. One, The Words between Us, will be coming out this fall and tells the story of a reclusive used bookstore owner who is far more at home in the fictional worlds of books than real life. Another, which takes place at a summer lake house in Northern Michigan, is nearing the point at which my agent will begin pitching it to publishing houses. And the third, which involves two sisters and a hiking trip gone wrong, is in the early stages of drafting and revision.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
You know, I don’t think there is anything in my debut novel, We Hope for Better Things, that is based on any of my personal real-life experiences, but it is solidly based in the history of the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights era, the Detroit Riots of 1967, and the modern-day challenges of the city of Detroit. People who have read the book who grew up in Detroit in the 1960s keep telling me how real the book felt to them, how it just brought that part of their lives back to them, which is gratifying.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Two come to mind.  First is the scenes in the 1960s where Nora and William meet. There’s a lot of tension and anger that kind of melts into intrigue and even attraction. It was fun to write. The other is the scene in which William’s nephew JJ and his friend are breaking into buildings and looting during the riot. JJ is so conflicted about what he’s doing, but it’s shown in subtle ways. I think it helps readers understand why someone would participate in such a lawless act and it helps them have empathy for people they might otherwise look down on.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
What I love about writing is what I love about reading: experiencing the world from someone else’s perspective. When we read fiction, we experience the world through the eyes and emotions of the characters. The same thing happens when we write fiction. Writing fiction is my way of working through what I think about the things that matter in life—human relationships, religious belief, and ethics, where we fit in history, where we are going in the future. Reading and writing helps me get my mind around these huge concepts and helps me understand my place in the world. Challenge yourself when you write to write about things you don’t understand, things that make you uncomfortable, things that make you squirm. We’ll all grow from it, and you most of all.

Also, if you’re going to get serious about putting in the time necessary to write something that is ready to be published, you’re probably going to have to quit some other things you enjoy. That’s just the reality. You can’t do it all. So make sure you’re doing what no one else can do: writing your books.

Favorite singer, actor, writer?
Brandi Carlile, James McAvoy, and…I just can’t choose. I love so many writers.

Place you’d like to travel?
Scotland

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you! I am so, so grateful you’ve given my stories a chance. A writer is nothing without readers.


BIO
Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for seventeen years, most of that time as a copywriter. She is also a freelance writer and editor and a member of the Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin. We Hope for Better Things is her first novel. Her second, The Words between Us, releases September 2019.

To connect with Erin ~

SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter: @ErinLBartels
Instagram: @erinbartelswrites





Monday, February 18, 2019

THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL, by author, CHRISTINA MCDONALD


In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.


In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?


"Christina McDonald's The Night Olivia Fell takes a mother's worst nightmare to a whole new level. This is an intense, twisting, heartbreaking thriller that explores in painful detail the consequences of family secrets. The reader will be riveted until the final page...and may even feel a bit of hope when all is said and done. Don't miss this one!"   (David Bell, bestselling author of Somebody's Daughter )

"Christina McDonald has crafted an emotionally-charged mystery that will leave readers equally gut-wretched and gripped. The Night Olivia Fell welcomes a talented new addition to the world of domestic suspense."   (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl and When The Lights Go Out )


Some Q & A with Christina ~ 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
I’m the author of The Night Olivia Fell and I think I’ve always been a storyteller. From as soon as I could hold a crayon I wrote silly stories and fairy tales for my sisters. In college, I decided to be a journalist because it was a type of writing I felt I could make a career out of. Later, when I had kids and needed more predictable hours, I moved into copywriting, so I was still writing. But I always wanted to write a novel.

Back in 2011 I had an idea for a novel and I was talking to my sister and brother-in-law about it, and my brother-in-law said, ‘you should write a novel about it.’ It seemed so simple when he said it out loud like that! Of course, it wasn’t, but it was sort of the impetus for me to go, ‘hey, I should write a novel’. So I did.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
When I’m not writing I love reading (I’m a total bookworm!), hiking, lifting weights at the gym, long walks with my golden retriever (her name’s Tango!), and spending time with my husband and our two boys.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I’ve recently given up my day job to focus on being a full-time writer. It took me a long time to give myself permission to do this, but I found a full-time copywriting job, full-time writing and full-time mom-ing was too much and I needed to re-prioritize my life. My family and writing are my priority, so I chose those!

Where do you get your ideas?
I usually get my ideas from a news article I’ve read that’s really touched me in some way. The idea for The Night Olivia Fell came when I read a news story about a 13-year old girl in California named Jahi McMath. She had gone into surgery to have her tonsils removed, suffered massive blood loss, and ultimately was declared brain dead. I had a new baby at the time and I looked at my baby utterly horrified and ached for Jahi’s mother. I couldn’t get the story out of my head, and from that the first seeds of The Night Olivia Fell were planted.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
Anything by Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf or Mary Kubica has definitely inspired me to write. They are all such talented authors!

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
So many challenges! I sat down to write my first full manuscript (not The Night Olivia Fell!) in January 2011 and started sending out requests to agents that summer. There were a lot of rejections. I stopped counting after 51. But after each one I edited and fine-tuned, edited some more and then sent out to more agents. And in December of 2011, my dreams came true – I was offered representation by an agent.

My book had been on offer for about a month when my agent called to say that no publishers had bought it. They all said basically the same thing: I could write well but it just wasn’t marketable enough. You know what they say – the higher you fly the harder you fall. And I crashed. I was completely devastated.

My agent assured me she’d help me with the second novel and we’d try again. So I wrote another book, but my agent didn’t like it. It was getting harder and harder to get in contact with her, so we agreed to go our separate ways. I really had to take stock at that stage and decide if I really wanted to be an author or if it was a pipe dream. I was working full time and I had kids, so free time to write was pretty limited and very precious. But I couldn’t give up writing. It’s something that’s in me, whether I’m published or not. So I sat down and wrote a third book. That book was The Night Olivia Fell.

How do you market your work?
I have an email list and an author Facebook page I use to reach out to readers and do giveaways and interviews for other authors. I think it’s a great way to stay connected to readers.

What are you working on now?
Yes! Book 2 is tentatively called All That Is Broken, and it’s about a woman who wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and she can’t remember if she murdered her mother.


Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
I think all authors put a little bit of themselves into each book. The Night Olivia Fell overall is not based on any of my real life experiences, but there are little pieces of myself scattered around in there. The layout of the high school Olivia goes to, for example, is very much based on my own high school. The idea for Abi’s background where she was abandoned by her mother came about because I had a boyfriend whose mother dropped him and his brother off at his father’s house when he was three and then disappeared. That sort of abandonment is huge for a young child, and I wanted to explore it more through Abi’s experiences.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Oh, the last one where Abi is saying goodbye to Olivia for sure! I wrote this scene before the rest of the book because it was so vivid in my mind, and I’m not going to lie – I cried as I was writing it! My dad died shortly before I sat down to write The Night Olivia Fell and it felt so unexpected and overwhelming and unreal – death is always like that, I know, but I think because I didn’t get to say goodbye, it was even more difficult. I think in writing that final goodbye scene I was possibly re-writing the goodbye I wanted to say to my dad.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Three tips:
1) Don’t give up! It sounds so trite, but it’s really true. You only fail if you don’t keep going. Becoming a published author is a seriously long game and every step can take years and years. Just live your life and collect your experiences and put them into your writing, and if you don’t give up, one day you’ll make it.

2) Know your genre and learn the beats of that genre. My first book was sort of women’s fiction but it was trying to be a mystery and I got the beats all wrong. Only now can I look back and see that was a huge mistake. Know the beats for your genre and twist them so they’re a new surprise.

3) Choose the right agent for you. You need to have a good vibe and know your agent has your back and will work for you. A bad agent who isn’t really interested in you and your career other than to make a few bucks can set you back by years. Seriously. You should never have to pay an agent any fees up front (you pay a percentage once you’ve signed a book deal).

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
It can be hugely isolating writing alone all day. My family are in America and my husband and kids and I are in London, so we don’t have a lot of support around, which is also hard. But the best part is I get to make my own hours and be there to pick my kids up from school and watch their concerts and sports games. I’m really grateful for that sort of flexibility. Plus I get to write, which is my dream come true!

Place you’d like to travel?
I really want to go to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. I also want to explore Costa Rica and parts of South America. I’m just waiting for my kids to be just a little bit older so they’ll remember and enjoy it.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you so much! Being an author is my dream come true, and I know it wouldn’t be possible without the support of my readers. Their kind words and wonderful reviews have meant the world to me!

To connect with Christina ~ 


The Night Olivia Fell, by author Christina McDonald
Contact and Social Media links: https://christina-mcdonald.com/contact/

Bio: Christina McDonald is an author, journalist, and copywriter, and has worked for companies such as The Sunday Times, Dublin, The Connacht Tribune, Galway, Expedia, USA TODAY, Travelex, and Pearson Publishing. Originally from Seattle, WA, she holds an MA in Journalism from the National University of Ireland Galway and now lives in London, England.