By Leslie Lindsay
An unsettling tale of a London couple who move into a gated community rife with dark secrets—a murder and more.
WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS
ALWAYS WITH A BOOK
B.A. Paris & Leslie Lindsay in conversation
With an absolutely gripping central mystery, U.K. author by way of France, B.A. Paris delivers a hit readers will surely devour as quickly as Behind Closed Doors, and joins a cadre of authors who’ve produced unforgettable books, like An Anonymous Girl, The Silent Patient, and You Should Have Known, about tortured and mysterious therapists.
B.A. Paris burst on the scene in 2016 with her break-out bestseller, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, which had me racing through the pages. She’s back now with THE THERAPIST, (St. Martin’s Press, July 13), about a close-knit suburban community where everyone is a little on-edge, and with good reason: there’s been a murder and everyone is still reeling, and grieving, and more. Plus, there are newcomers, a therapist, a private investigator, and so much more. Alice feels compelled to get to the bottom of this sordid situation—but she’s not even sure she can trust her partner, Leo.
ABOUT THE THERAPST:
When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive homes, it’s everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceiving…
As Alice gets to know her neighbors, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.
Alice quickly becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it, and it’s clear her neighbors are keeping something from her…
THE THERAPIST has all of the B.A. Paris hallmarks: twists and turns galore, relatable relationship drama, and a close-knit, domestic setting that allows the tension to build and build.
THE THERAPIST is about truth and reinvention, a web of lies, a relationship hinging in the balance, and so much more. It’s a whodunit, but a study in neighborhood dynamics, mind games, and more. The writing style is abrupt and to-the-point, with plenty of dialogue, which lends itself well to these types of domestic thrillers. I thought I had ‘the twist’ all worked out, but I was surprised. The ending is a little convoluted, but readers who enjoy a jarring reveal with revel in this tale.
Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented B.A. Paris back to the author interview series:
Bernadette, it’s lovely to have you back. Alice was haunted by so many things—her sister’s death years ago, her new home, and the neighborhood secrets. What was haunting you as you set out to write THE THERAPIST?
The thought of someone having been murdered in the cottage where I’m now living! Parts of it date back to the 18th century and not long after we moved in, I began to think about its past inhabitants, some of whom would have died here. I was quite happy living with their ghosts until I began wondering if any of them had been murdered in my lovely new home. If there had been a murder, how would I feel about living here, especially if it was recent? Those dark thoughts gave me the idea for The Therapist.
THE THERAPIST: You might have to talk to someone.
I found it interesting that both your debut, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and THE THERAPIST had to do with sisters. Grace has a sister who is in a care home (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS) and Alice has a deceased sister she still obsesses over. Would you call these ‘sister’ books? You’re the mother of five daughters, do you see the sister relationship as driving force for story fodder?
I’d never really thought about it before your question, but yes, I would class both Behind Closed Doors and The Therapist as ‘sister’ books. In each of these books, my protagonists – Grace and Alice – act as they do because of their sisters. Their sisters are the focus of their drive and determination.
Having five daughters, I think it comes naturally to me to use relationships between sisters as a driving force in my stories. BRING ME BACK is also a ‘sister’ story. In all three books, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to give my character a brother rather than a sister. Maybe it’s something I should think about for future books!
“Suspicion, betrayal and dark secrets abound in this tense story—all hidden just beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect suburban life.”
—T.M. Logan, author of The Vacation
How do you think your life in France and now the U.K. has influenced you as a writer—both formally and thematically? For example, the place names and also some of the research you must have done?
Although I’ve spent most of my life in France, my books are always set in the UK. I’ve often wondered why this is, as I know France better than I know the UK, and I think it’s something to do with those formative early years. I was born and brought up in England, only moving to France when I was twenty-one, and when I choose the settings for my books, I find myself drawing on my experiences, of the small villages and towns around where I lived, and of London, where I worked for three years. As for the place names, they are usually invented but based on somewhere I know.
When you’re writing, what generally brings you the most joy? Is there a time of day—or week—you’re most receptive to story and creativity? What struggles do you encounter with writing?
I always know how I want the story I’m writing to start, and how I want it to finish, but I’m never exactly sure of how I’ll get from one to the other. I’ll have a general idea of what might happen, and what I love most is when my characters, as they develop, take me on a different journey to the one I imagined. The sense that they know something that I don’t is both stimulating and exciting.
My most creative time to write is often the middle of the night – my brain seems to be very receptive when I’m hovering between wake and sleep. An idea will come to me, and I know that if I don’t write it down straight away, I’ll have forgotten in the morning. So I might write for hours.
There are times when I’m not sure how to move my story on, so I’ll go for a walk and by the time I come back, I’ll have found a solution. The other thing I struggle with is self-doubt. I’ll hit a wall about half-way through the story and think that everything I’ve written is rubbish. But then I realize that the only way to get through the wall is to keep writing.
“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”
― Henry David Thoreau
What are you most looking forward to this summer? Is doesn’t have to be literary.
My daughter, after having had to postpone her wedding three times because of COVID, is finally – fingers crossed – getting married in August in France, and I cannot wait for family and friends to come together to celebrate. Because of all the disappointments, and not having seen so many loved ones for so long, it’s going to be an extra-special time.
Bernadette, thank you for this. Always so insightful. Is there anything I should have asked but may have forgotten?
No, but I’d love to tell you that I’m really excited about my next book – working title THE PRISONER. It’s another psychological thriller but there is also a love element. My protagonist is a feisty twenty-year-old young woman, and I can’t wait for you to meet her.
For more information, to connect with B.A. Paris, or to purchase a copy of THE THERAPST, please visit:
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Next week, Joyce Maynard talks about her new novel, COUNT THE WAYS.
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Learn more about Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
B.A. Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back and The Dilemma. She grew up in England, but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher. THE THERAPIST is her fifth novel.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the creator and host of the award-winning author interview series,“Always with a Book.” Since 2013, Leslie, named “one of the most influential book reviewers” by Jane Friedman, ranks in the top 1% of all GoodReads reviewers and has conducted over 700 warm, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Robert Kolker and Shari Lapena to Helen Phillips and Mary Beth Keane, making her website a go-to for book lovers world-wide. Her writing & photography have appeared in various print journals and online.
She is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, soon to become an audiobook from Penguin Random House. A former psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic, Leslie’s memoir, MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness, & Memory, is currently on submission with Catalyst Literary Management. Leslie resides in the Chicago area with her family.
Next Week: Joyce Maynard talks about her most ambitious novel to date, families, dysfunction, and a gorgeous New England farm.
Cover and author image courtesy of St. Martin’s Press and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #bookstagram