By Leslie Lindsay
NYT bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf delivers a heart-racing, tightly plotted whodunit mystery which spans the course of about a week with glimpses into the past in her forthcoming MISSING PIECES (Feb 2, 2016).
Sarah and Jack Quinlan seem to have the perfect life–married twenty years and having just sent their daughters off to college–they are polite and caring toward one another as any couple in a long-term relationship is. When Jack receives a call that his aunt has taken a fall and is seriously injured, Jack and Sarah travel to his hometown of Penny Gate, IA, a place he’s spent very little time in the last twenty years. And with good reason.
I’m thrilled to have Heather join us as we chat about her fifth novel, MISSING PIECES.
Leslie Lindsay: Heather, I am honored to have you pop over. I fell in love with your writing with your debut, THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE. I have to say, there seems to be a theme in your novels involving secrets. Can you speak to that?
Heather Gudenkauf: Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my writing. I’ve long been intrigued by news accounts documenting the shock and surprise loved ones experience when they learn that a loved one wasn’t quite the person they thought they were. I trusted him implicitly, says the woman whose husband has a secret family. She was always a reliable, hardworking employee, says the boss of the woman who embezzled thousands. While I was writing MISSING PIECES, in my hometown, there was the case of a purportedly normal family man who was accused of shooting a family member over fifteen times. Police arrived to find him sitting in a chair in his living room, with a bag of ammunition and gun cleaning supplies sitting next to him. How could you be so wrong about the person sleeping next to you, sitting next to you or living next door to you? People keep secrets ~ but how long are they able to keep them hidden and what are the ramifications? That’s what I try to explore in my novels.
L.L.: MISSING PIECES is about lies, betrayal, and how secret-keeping can destroy those we care about. Like your other novels, this one is also set in your home state of Iowa. The scenery is gorgeous, and I could almost feel myself in those corn fields and old farm houses. What ultimately inspired you in this one?
Heather Gudenkauf: For me, Iowa has a beauty all its own. Whenever I’m driving through the countryside and see an old farm house I immediately begin to create a history for it ~I imagine the children who played in the yard, the men and women who worked the fields, the births and deaths that occurred there. I love reading books where the setting is almost a character itself ~ with its own soul, its unique heartbreaks and joys ~ and I attempt this in my own writing as well.
L.L.: Switching gears a bit…I understand you are a very busy writer, wife, mom of three, and title 1 reading coordinator. I’m always amazed at these super-woman heroics of juggling so many balls. How is writing an accessible career choice for women—you—today?
Heather Gudenkauf: I am 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-three years in education. I didn’t seriously consider writing until I had been teaching for several years and my three children were in school. I think the key to be 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.
L.L.: Do you have any writing rituals or obsessions?
Heather Gudenkauf: I wouldn’t say I have any particular rituals obsessions except I do like to have music playing while I write. With music playing in the background I’m still able to focus on my writing without being too distracted by the world around me. Otherwise, I can pretty much write anywhere. I write in coffee shops, in bed, in front of the fireplace, in the car, outdoors.
L.L.: What are you currently reading? Does your reading influence your writing?
Heather Gudenkauf: Right now I’m reading The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas. It’s a historical novel about a midwife from a small Colorado mining town and the mystery surrounding the death of a newborn. Sandra Dallas is one of my favorite authors ~ she has a magical way of transporting me into the past and sweeping me up into the intricate lives of the characters she creates.
Every word I’ve ever read has, in some way, influenced my writing. I think we all carry the books we’ve read with us – it becomes the fabric of who we are. I think I may have just mixed my metaphors there ~ but that’s the best way I can explain it.
L.L.: What is obsessing you now and why?
Heather Gudenkauf: Right now I am obsessed with working on my newest novel. I am trying something completely new in my writing and developing what I hope is a very unique main character. It’s challenging and exciting ~ I can’t wait to see how it ends!
L.L.: What should I have asked, but may have forgotten?
Heather Gudenkauf: I love chatting with readers and talking books ~ I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please come see me at heathergudenkauf.com for my most recent blog post, giveaways and other bookish fun!
L.L.: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us and share MISSING PIECES. It was a pleasure, Heather!
Heather Gudenkauf: Thank you for thinking of me for your blog ~ it’s been a lot of fun!
Author bio: Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and One Breath Away. Her newest novel, Missing Pieces, will be available on Feb. 2, 2016. She lives in Iowa with her family.
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[Author and cover image courtesy of Heather Gudenkauf. THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE cover image retrieved from H. Gudenkauf’s website on 1.1.16. Iowa farm house found on Pinterest, original source unavailable. “The end” image from www.giphy.com on 1.1.16]