I'm sure you have been asked this in every interview so far, but please indulge me! Where did the idea for Never Knowing spring from? Real cases? Newspaper headlines? Your imagination?
Never Knowing was inspired by a conversation I had with my editor about what it might feel like, if you were adopted, to find out that your birth father was a famous serial killer who had never been caught. The story took root and grew from there. I used a few other ideas that had been circulating in my mind for a while, for example there was a horrific murder in Wells Gray Park many years ago and when I read about it, it really upset me. Never Knowing isn’t based on that crime, but the image of a lonely campsite and the terrible things that could happen there, haunted me, so I explored those feelings in the book.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu plays a part in Never Knowing. Do you use the book in your own life? How did you choose the quotes you used?
I’d never read the Art of War before writing Never Knowing, but when I researched it, I found that the quotes and principles could be used in many situations. It was complicated, but also interesting and challenging to fit the quotes in, finding just the right one for a situation, then building dialogue off of it. I love solving puzzles, though, so I enjoyed that part of the process.
Belonging in many ways is a theme throughout Never Knowing - any thoughts to share on this idea?
Hmm. Good question. I think a lot of people struggle with a sense of not quite fitting in with their family. As they get older, things often change and they create a circle of peer groups or learn to accept their differences, but for many people, it can bring a lot of pain when they are children and a feeling of isolation, which is certainly something Sara struggles with.
Covers fascinate me - do you know the girl on the cover of Not Knowing?
I don’t know her. But I loved this cover from the first moment I saw it. The designer at St. Martin’s press did a great job.
What does your writing day look like? Same time, same place everyday?
Right now it’s a little chaotic because there is a lot of marketing going on, leading up to publication. The business side of a writing career can be time consuming. When I’m in the first draft stage, I try to have a set amount of pages that I want to reach per day. And then when I’m editing, it’s just whenever and however I can. I always write in my office, though sometimes to focus I will take my lap top to the kitchen table. I have to have complete silence around me and often wear ear plugs. Mornings are my most creative time, but lately I’ve also been writing in the evening because my day ends up disappearing as I deal with all the other demands.
I'm always curious - what are you reading currently? Are there any authors that have influenced your writing? Favourite childhood book?
It’s very hard for me to read when I’m working a lot. In the evenings I usually just watch TV because my eyes are tired and I’m burnt out. In the winter I like to read a little bit in the bath, but gone are the days where I could devote entire afternoons to reading books. I have a few books on my nightstand waiting for me, a couple of thrillers and some classic Stephen King. I read a lot of his books growing up, so I’m sure he influenced me. Same with Ed McBain and Lawrence Sanders. From my childhood, I liked Mists of Avalon, The Secret Garden, Heaven by V.C. Andrews, Clan of the Cave Bear, and I read a lot of fantasy, like the series by Piers Anthony.
Still Missing was a phenomenal success. Have you grown accustomed to the fame yet? Did that success make it easier or harder to write Never Knowing? What changed in your life with that success?
I’ve slowly gotten used to my new world, but in my mind I’m still the same person, so it catches me off guard when people comment about my success. When I was working on Still Missing, it was challenging because I had the fear of not getting published. When I was writing Never Knowing, the challenge was to write a worthy follow up. I knew people’s expectations would be very high, but I just tried to write the story that was coming to me, to the best of my abilities.
Your books have gone global - do you plan on staying in Canada?
Yes, though I hope to travel to more countries. I’ve had the opportunity to take a few of trips to the States and last November I flew to Amsterdam to visit with my publishers. That was an amazing experience. Every time I walk out into my yard, I see the tulips I brought back and I feel very grateful.
What's up next on your vision board for your third novel?
The same things have been on my vision board for all three books, and I have a superstition of not taking down anything, in case it reverses the process! I have now started branching off into mini-vision boards for specific things. This question was a good prompt to start working on one just for Always Watching.
What do you do to relax? Hobbies? Popcorn addiction?
Well, popcorn and a movie (or really, any good TV show because it doesn’t take much for me to justify a bowl of popcorn) are definitely on the top of the list, but I also enjoy walking my dog and spending time with my husband. Exercise is a great stress relief and I feel wonderful after, but the process isn’t very relaxing. Dinners with friends always make me happy!
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I’m very excited about my third book. This one, Always Watching, is from the perspective of the therapist who is in the first two books, Nadine. I set her early years in Shawnigan Lake, on Vancouver Island, which is where I grew up, so I’ve really enjoyed sharing my love for the location. Also, I’ve found the research for this book, on psychiatry and cults, fascinating.
Thanks so much for stopping by Chevy. Watch for my review of Never Knowing on July 5th. Until then - read an excerpt of Never Knowing.