I was working on a very different kind of book (a comic Regency romance) with a character I mentally referred to as, "the psychopathic governess." Although my mental reference was a bit flippant, it made me pay attention to studies and news articles about personality disorders. When I realized how common they were, that they occur in all levels and kinds of societies, as well as the fact that they tend to come to full flower before or during early adolescence, I felt as though I had to write about it. And of course, it had to be a comedy.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I struggled with the decision about pushing two innocent girls down a flight of stairs and locking them in a basement. I could not decide how far I wanted the violence to go. One of the points I was trying to make with this book was that people without a moral sense are not necessarily mass murderers -- they are more often simply liars and thieves. It would have been easy to go overboard, or on the other hand to flinch away from anything physical (I don't even like squishing insects, personally).
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
If you like unreliable narrators, you might like WE WERE LIARS, by E. Lockhart, the title of which is at least honest about being dishonest.
How long did you work on DON'T YOU TRUST ME?
I got the idea two years before I wrote "The End" on the manuscript. However, I was working on another book at the time I thought of it and my idea had to wait its turn. I think it took a little over a year to write. I am not a fast writer.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
It taught me that I am highly suggestible. I became absolutely obsessed with the character. Several times I could have sworn I saw her in the flesh. One time she nearly ran me over in her "borrowed" Corvette. On purpose, I might add. You'd think a fictional character would be grateful to her creator, but apparently not.
What do you hope readers will take away from DON'T YOU TRUST ME?
Not everyone out there is like you. Yes, the vast majority of people you will meet in your life are basically decent human beings. But there are those who do not care if, or how much, they hurt you. Be aware, and if a relationship begins to feel too one-sided, or if you suspect you are being consistently lied to, seriously consider ending it.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I was first published in 1993 (OWL IN LOVE, Houghton Mifflin). Before that I had completed one book, a fantasy called "The Witches of Winter Hill." It was never published. I have written two books since then that did not get published, in addition to THE WOMAN IN THE WALL, Houghton Mifflin 1997; GOOSE CHASE, Houghton Mifflin 2001; LOST IN THE LABYRINTH, Houghton Mifflin 2002; KEEPING THE CASTLE and A SCHOOL FOR BRIDES, 2012 and 2015 respectively, Viking.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
Certainly. Here you go: "Hah!" At least, this is almost the same word as "aha," but different. Should you happen to find out that there is a key to writing a novel, please send me one. I haven't a clue.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I work from home with my feet up and with at least one dog on my lap. The contortions required when both dogs and the computer require lap space are aging me before my time. I'm half crippled at the present moment (move your FOOT, dog!). Sometimes the parrot sings to me (catchy tunes like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm:" ... With a buck-buck here, and a buck-buck there ...), but usually no music.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Well, the standard advice is: read a lot and write a lot. It's hard to better that, especially as (see above) I have no idea what I am doing.
What are you working on now?
A sequel to DON'T YOU TRUST ME? entitled, FOOL ME TWICE, thus giving Morgan another shot at killing me off.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Don't You Trust Me?
by Patrice Kindl
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A teenage girl switches identities with a stranger and pulls off a long-term scam in this smart, sarcastic thriller perfect for fans of Ally Carter.
Don’t you trust me? I mean, look at me. Blond, blue-eyed, the very image of innocence. Pretty enough, if you care about that kind of thing. I don’t.
But would a normal person switch identities with some wet mess of a girl at the airport, just to get her to stop bawling about being separated from her loser boyfriend and sent to live with some distant relatives? Nope, she wouldn’t. Yet I did. I’m not as normal as you think. And you’ll just have to trust me on that.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORPatrice Kindl is the author of the acclaimed novels Owl in Love, Goose Chase, Keeping the Castle, A School for Brides, and several others. She lives with her husband and a variety of animals in upstate New York. Visit her at PatriceKindl.com.
Have you had a chance to read DON'T YOU TRUST ME? yet? Have you written a book with an unreliable narrator? Have you ever thought you saw your characters in real life? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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