By Leslie Lindsay
Deliciously dark and deceptive, the most awry characters, set in a bucolic suburban setting in Shari Lapena’s new thriller, THE END OF HER.
~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~
#1 Internationally Bestselling Author
Shari Lapena, the author of last summer’s propulsive thriller, SOMEONE WE KNOW returns to the bucolic town of Aylesford, nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley. Here, in THE END OF HER (Penguin/Pamela Dorman Books, July 28 2020), we meet Stephanie Kilgour, a young woman who seemingly has it all: A beautiful home; a loving architect husband, and twin baby girls. But she’s exhausted. The babies are only four months old and colicky. Stephanie is unraveling. Fatigue and new motherhood is taking it’s toll. Her husband, Patrick, does what he can, but work is intense. And then, a woman from his past shows up unexpectedly. He’s flabbergasted and terrified. Secrets surface. The woman, Erika, is insidious, weaving her way into Stephanie’s life, Patrick’s partner’s bed, and more.
THE END OF HER is deliciously deceptive, full of twists and turns, red herrings, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. The writing is crisp and tense, leading you to question everything and everyone. I fell right into Lapena’s rhythm and developed plenty of theories and motives. The ending is a little ambiguous, but it most definitely leaves the reader with an unsettled feeling.
This is the perfect summer escape for the beach, patio, or an up-all-night read. I’ve read all five of Shari’s alarmingly good thrillers and if you haven’t, you better get started right away.
First, join me in conversation with Shari Lapena.
Hello Shari and welcome back! Revenge, blackmail murder and deceit are all components of THE END OF HER. What was your inspiration for such a “twisted” tale? Is any of this based on a true story?
The inspiration was something I read in the news a while ago about someone digging out a car after a snowstorm and his partner and young child got into the car to stay warm and died accidentally of carbon monoxide poisoning. It was so tragic—but I also thought, what a perfect way to rid yourself of your wife and child if you were so inclined. That was the germ of the story and I went on from there. Erica and all her evil machinations grew as the story developed and characters were added.
THE END OF HER has it all: toxic men, toxic women, twists, turns and red herrings. How did you put together this collection of (mostly) despicable characters?
Would I seem like a terrible person if I admitted I just think that way? Not in real life—but when I’m writing I like to go to the dark places in my characters. I start with a premise, see where it goes and how the characters develop as the plot grows. And of course as I get deeper into my characters and explore them and their backstories and their motivations, I go into some pretty murky territory.
Do you know your characters’ motives when you start writing or is it something that comes to you as you move along?
A bit of both, actually. I often have a broad idea of what’s motivating the various characters, but it gets fine-tuned as the story goes along, and amplified and more detailed.
Motherhood plays an interesting role in this story. How does being a mother provide obstacles for many of the female characters?
Motherhood is such an interesting thing. It’s wonderful, but it does change things completely. It makes you extremely vulnerable for one thing, because for most people, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do to protect their child. We certainly see this in Stephanie and Cheryl. It also provides an opportunity to exploit people—if you have no scruples at all. Without giving too much away, children are a motivating factor in many people’s lives, in many ways, and that’s the case in this story as well.
The marriages—and relationships—in this novel are complicated to say the least, with lying and infidelity a common thread throughout. How did you create such complex partnerships?
I watch a lot of true crime shows, and honestly, you wouldn’t believe what real people get up to. Truth really is stranger than fiction sometimes. People are complicated and their lives are messy and complicated, and I just find it easy to think about things that way. I think about how things could get worse for my characters and I always find a way. People Behaving Badly could be a title for one of my books!
The amazing Ruth Ware wrote, “No-one does suburban paranoia like Shari Lapena.” What is the secret to creating suburban paranoia?
It’s the home and family relationships that interest me, the idea of subverting what’s “normal” or what looks like normal. I like to subvert the idea of the white picket fence and the perfect couple, the perfect family. No one is perfect. But my characters can be pretty out there. And it’s our closest relationships that have the greatest impact on us. The secret to creating that paranoia? Going deep into character and finding what lurks there.
The book ends with an unsolved crime. Why did you decide to end the book this way . . . or do you have a sequel in mind?
I don’t have a sequel in mind, but I felt that this was simply the right ending for this particular book. I love to leave a book with the feeling that the lives of the characters live on beyond the page. Then I feel I’ve done my job. That’s how it feels for me—as if they’re all still alive out there somewhere.
One last question: If THE END OF HER is adapted into a movie, who would you like to see cast as Stephanie, Patrick, and Erica?
Oh, that’s always tough for me, because I don’t know that many actors. But how about a tired Mila Kunis for Stephanie, a frazzled Chris Pine for Patrick, and a sexy Michelle Pierce for Erica.
Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this #alwayswithabook.
For more information, to connect with Shari Lapena via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE END OF HER, please visit:
Shari’s writing is so distinctive and unique, it’s hard to truly compare her work, but I was reminded of Mary Kubica’s EVERY LAST LIE in terms of the tired new mother/successful father dynamic, car accident and more; also Kelley Armstrong’s WHEREVER SHE GOES.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of the thrillers The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, and Someone We Know, which have all been New York Times and The Sunday Times (London) bestsellers. Her books have been sold in thirty-seven territories around the world. She lives in Toronto.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead Chapel, Common Ground Review, Cleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The Waking, Brave Voices Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming photography to appear in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Another Chicago Magazine and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal; poetry to appear this summer in Coffin Bell Journal; CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. She is at work in a memoir. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook.
- Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriter
- Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @LeslieLindsay1
LOVE IT? SHARE IT!
#suburbannoir #mystery #thriller #domesticsuspense #motherhood #newmoms #fatigue #deception #suburbia #marriage #TheEndofHer #alwayswithabook
[Cover and author image courtesy of Pamela Dorman Books and used with permission. Author photo cred: Tristan Ostler. Q&A adapted from pre-arranged PRH interview. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 for more like this #alwayswithabook]