Saturday, October 18, 2014

0 Susan McBride,author of VERY BAD THINGS, talks about managing multiple POV's, and writing with a two year old.

What is your favorite thing about VERY BAD THINGS?

At its core, Very Bad Things is a thriller with a lot of twists and turns, but it’s also a story about friendship, love, and trust. We’ve all had experiences where we’ve believed in someone and thought we knew that person so well only to find out that much of what we felt to be true was a pack of lies. In VBT, as Katie tries to unravel the mystery of Rose’s disappearance, she begins to realize that even the people she thinks she knows best and loves the most might not be who she thinks they are. So it’s the characters in Very Bad Things that I love best. They are complicated. They have lived through experiences—some good and some very bad—that have made them who they are. And they’re not always predictable.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I have written lots of mysteries for the general fiction market, and the idea behind Very Bad Things was originally intended to be for adults. But after going through several other mystery ideas with my editor at Delacorte, I brought this idea up and she loved it!  I think the story actually works better as a YA mystery. The prep school setting just worked out so beautifully, and the complicated relationships between Katie, Mark, and Tessa probably wouldn’t have been as effective if the characters were, say, in their 30s. Everything just clicked.

How long did you work on the book?

I worked on Very Bad Things on and off for about two years. It went through three revisions before I knew I got it right. Initially, I had a character’s point of view that was eliminated entirely, and I had to start fresh using another character’s point of view. It was very tricky and totally absorbing trying to approach what happens in the story—the disappearance of Rose and the aftermath—from three separate perspectives. I didn’t want to give away too much with any one character, yet I had to keep revealing more and more secrets as the plot progressed. It was honestly one of the hardest books I’ve written and the most gratifying.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

It took me over a decade to get published initially once I was out of college, and I still have about seven or eight unpublished manuscripts in a box in my basement. Luckily, I never tossed any of them, as three were recently dusted off and published by HarperCollins in a new mystery series (the River Road Mysteries, which came out this summer). So, aspiring authors, never throw anything away!  ;-) I’ve actually been writing professionally for 15 years. I have several women’s fiction books with HarperCollins, like Little Black Dress and The Truth About Love & Lightning. There are two books in a non-mystery young adult series with Delacorte, The Debs and Love, Lies & Texas Dips (the third in that series, Gloves Off, was never released so I got the rights back and will publish myself in 2015). And I’ve written the humorous Debutante Dropout Mystery series for HarperCollins that’s been on the USA Today Bestsellers List. Coincidentally, HC/Avon is releasing a five-book collection of the Deb Dropout series on October 14, the same day Very Bad Things drops!). I believe that Very Bad Things is my 18th novel written under contract for either Random House or HarperCollins since 1999. It’s been a very interesting ride, I must say!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I can’t write with music because I end up listening to it and singing along!  I don’t think I could work in a coffee shop as I’d be too distracted. So I work at home. I have a “writing room”—it feels weird to call it an office because I pretty much just write in it. Before I had a baby two years ago, I would just write all day long, taking breaks for laundry, emails, whatever. Now that I have a toddler running around the house, I have to write when she’s asleep, so that means naptime, early mornings, and late at night. I need relative quiet so I can think, and I kind of like the lights dim so I focus solely on the computer screen.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
 Read a lot and read all different kinds of books. The more you understand what makes a story work, the more you’ll know what your book needs to succeed. Hang out with other people who love books and writing. It’s great to have that support system because we writers are just a different breed. We see things differently, we think differently, and we’re very sensitive and take things personally. If you’re with friends who understand that, it helps a lot. Keep a journal and write down observations, poetry, anything that motivates you. And keep at it. Like I said, I had quite a few manuscripts go unsold. If you believe in yourself, you will make it. It might not happen as fast as you’d like, but it will happen.

What are you working on now? 

I just turned in (and I mean just!) the sixth Debutante Dropout Mystery to my editor at HarperCollins. It’s called Say Yes to the Death, and it’ll be out in September of 2015. And I have an idea for another YA mystery floating around in my head so I hope to get to that one of these days!


Very Bad Things
by Susan McBride
Delacorte Press
Released 10/14/2014

Katie never thought she'd be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her-but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can't stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn't remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, and Mark is in big trouble. Because it looks like Rose isn't just gone…she's dead.

Maybe Mark was stupid, but that doesn't mean he's a killer.

Katie needs to find out what really happened, and her digging turns up more than she bargained for, not just about Mark but about someone she loves like a sister: Tessa, her best friend. At Whitney Prep, it's easy to keep secrets…especially the cold-blooded kind.

Purchase Very Bad Things at Amazon
Purchase Very Bad Things at IndieBound
View Very Bad Things on Goodreads

Giveaway ends 10/19/2014 at midnight EST.


Susan McBride is the USA Today Bestselling author of Blue Blood and four other award-winning Debutante Dropout Mysteries from HarperCollins/Avon, including The Good Girl's Guide To Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night Of The Living Deb, and Too Pretty To Die. A sixth title, Say Yes to the Death, will be out in early 2015. Susan has another series with Avon debuting in May 2014, the River Road Mysteries, starting with To Helen Back. Mad as Helen will follow in July 2014 and Not a Chance in Helen in September 2014. Susan's young adult thriller, Very Bad Things, will be published in hardcover by Delacorte Press on October 14, 2014.

In addition to her mysteries, Susan has penned three well-received women's fiction titles. The Truth About Love & Lightning (02/13) was selected by Target stores for their Emerging Authors program, was a Midwest Connections Pick, and was dubbed "a poignant page-turner" by Publishers Weekly. Little Black Dress spent five weeks on the St. Louis bestsellers list and was a Target Recommended Read. The Cougar Club was selected by Target Stores as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association. Foreign editions of Susan's books have been published in France, Turkey, Croatia, and Bulgaria.

Susan has one nonfiction title available: In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40, which tells her tale of becoming an "accidental Cougar" and marrying a younger man, her cancer diagnosis at age 42, and finding herself pregnant at 47.

She has authored several YA non-mystery novels for Delacorte about debutantes in Houston: The Debs (2008) and Love, Lies, And Texas Dips (2009). Gloves Off, the third book, has not yet been released.

In January of 2012, Susan was named one of St. Louis's "Most Dynamic People of the Year" by the Ladue News. In April of 2012, she was given the "Survivor of the Year" Award by the St. Louis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. As Susan likes to say, "Life is never boring."

Readers can visit her any time at or on Facebook at 

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