I’m thrilled to welcome Kimberly McCreight to the blog today! She answered a few of my questions about her brand new book, Where They Found Her.
What inspired you to write Where They Found Her?
The major themes of the book, including the challenges of parenting in the face of your own personal history, were inspired by my own experiences as a parent. But the plot of the book was certainly inspired by current events, including television coverage years ago of a young woman accused of killing her newborn and the many recent accounts of sexual assaults on campus and the ways in which universities do and do not handle them well.
Why did you choose to tell the story via multiple narratives?
I’ve always written from multiple POV’s and non-narrative narrative chapters—in this instance, transcripts of Molly’s therapy sessions, journal entries and newspaper articles with community comments. For me, the truth of any situation really lies in the confluence of multiple perspectives. Everyone is an unreliable narrator because they are committed to their own version of the story. There’s inherent mystery in that. I also quite like being able to slide into the skin of so many different people—it’s the best part of writing!
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I read numerous psychological abstracts about post-partum depression and infanticide—trying to understand how and why both happen. I also spoke with several therapists to properly capture Barbara’s young son’s rapid unraveling. I read as much coverage about how sexual assaults are handled on campus and spoke with a head of campus security, to understand how campus police and city police interact. I did some freelancing myself so I already had some insight into Molly’s role as a newbie reporter, but I also spoke with a crime reporter to learn a little more about what it’s like to be covering that kind of story. This was also the first time I ever spoke with a medical examiner. Nothing like doing research with a real live coroner to make you feel like a mystery writer.
What do you enjoy the most about writing, and reading, suspense?
It’s the same answer on both fronts: figuring it out. I do read (and watch) a lot of suspense as well as write it, because I’m obsessed with “why.” Specifically, why people do the things they do, especially the darker things. Anytime, I sit down to write a book it is always with that question in mind.
You have a background in law, and I love your story of how you became a writer. Reconstructing Amelia was actually your fifth novel, but what’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
High school was the first time I ever wrote fiction. My first short story was for and English class junior year. We were supposed to write and essay about A Tale of Two Cities, and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to answer any of the questions. So, instead, I went off script completely and wrote a story from the perspective of a young French girl. Lucky for me, I had a generous teacher who accepted that story in lieu of my essay she also became a real advocate of my fiction writing. It took me years to have the courage to pursue writing in a more active way, but her early support was critical.
What authors have inspired you the most?
There are so many. My early influences were Charles Dickens, Anne Tyler, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf. Later on, reading Michael Cunningham’s The Hours was a revelation, as well as The Secret History. And many others continue to influence me every day with their amazing work Gillian Flynn, Jodi Picoult, Tom Perrotta and Laura Lippman.
What are you currently reading?
I have an advance copy of Alice LaPlante’s new book Coming of Age at the End of Days, burning a hole in my bag—can’t wait to dive in!
Is there anything you’re looking forward to this year?
My older daughter graduating from fifth grade and my younger daughter’s theatre performance—I am crazy proud of both of them. And going to Italy with my family.
What’s next for you? Care to dish on your upcoming YA trilogy?
Yes! Next up is the first book in my trilogy The Outliers—I’m putting the finishing touches on book one and I am so excited about it! It’s set in the present day but speculates a reality where women’s intuition is proved a scientific fact. Each book reads like a character driven mystery, but they have this much broader scope and unique scope, too, which I am very excited about. Plus, I have a crush on the boy in them—Jasper Salt. Don’t tell my husband.
About Where They Found Her:
An idyllic suburban town.
A devastating discovery.
Shocking revelations that will change three lives forever.
At the end of a long winter in well-to-do Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of a newborn is found in the woods fringing the campus of the town’s prestigious university. No one knows the identity of the baby, what ended her very short life, or how she came to be found among the fallen leaves. But for the residents of Ridgedale, there is no shortage of opinions.
When freelance journalist and recent Ridgedale transplant Molly Sanderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the disturbing news for the Ridgedale Reader—the town’s local paper—she has good reason to hesitate. A severe depression followed the loss of her own baby, and this assignment could unearth memories she has tried hard to bury. But the disturbing history Molly uncovers is not her own. Her investigation reveals a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind Ridgedale’s white picket fences.
Told from the perspectives of three Ridgedale women, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth behind the tragedy, revealing that these women have far more in common than they could ever have imagined: that the very worst crimes are committed against those we love. And that—sooner or later—the past catches up to all of us.