Mary, welcome to Dream by Day and thank you so much for joining us!
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel, Don’t You Cry, for those who aren’t already familiar with the story?
Don’t You Cry begins in Chicago when a young woman named Quinn awakens one morning to discover her roommate, Esther, missing. While snooping through Esther’s room in search of clues that might help her find Esther, she comes across some questionable items that lead her to wonder how well she really knows her roommate. Meanwhile, in a small Michigan town about seventy miles outside of Chicago, a teenage boy named Alex discovers a mysterious young woman in the café where he works – one bearing a striking resemblance to Esther. He’s taken with her at once and the two becomes fast friends, though as Quinn starts to uncover the secrets behind Esther, we wonder what Alex, seventy miles away, is getting himself into.
Where did you get the inspiration for Don’t You Cry?
I was initially intrigued by the juxtaposition of a woman’s disappearance with the mysterious appearance of a woman in a different locale. When I began the novel there was much I had yet to figure out: who would tell these stories, whether this was one woman or two, and how the lives of all involved would eventually intersect. But I was excited to explore the idea on the page and see how the story unfolded over time.
Were any characters easier to write than others? Why do you think that is?
I find it more difficult to write any of my characters when I first begin a novel, whether male or female, young or old. They’re new and I’m unfamiliar with them, and the dialogue or their inner thoughts and voice are sometimes hard to discern. But after a few chapters, I begin to grasp who they are and the process of bringing them to life becomes easier. That said, there are always characters who resonate with me more deeply, or who tug a bit more on my heartstrings. In Don’t You Cry, that’s certainly the character of Alex, who is a reliable and whip-smart kid who’s stuck at home caring for his alcoholic father after his friends have graduated from high school and left for college. He’s alone and lonely, and easily smitten with the mysterious new arrival to town, a woman he nicknames Pearl for a bracelet she wears. I believe Alex is the type of special character who will stick with readers after they finish the book and leave an indelible mark on their hearts as he has mine.
What drew you to the mystery thriller genre as an author?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, though my first published novel, The Good Girl, was the first manuscript I wrote that had any sort of suspense element to it. I focused on women’s fiction before that time, though not very successfully. I’d start with an idea I thought was brilliant and then lose interest in the manuscript partway through. Something was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. And then I got the idea for a kidnapping tale, and though I didn’t go into The Good Girl with a concerted effort to make it more of a thriller than my previous works, I knew right away when those twisty elements fell into place that all along this is what my other manuscripts were missing. I’ve been writing thrillers ever since and adore the genre.
Do you have any particular practices that help you write? Can your share your process with us?
I wake up early every morning and begin writing around 5am. It’s my favorite time to write, and the time when I feel the most clear-headed and focused. I find that I’m easily distracted by noise, and so have to be certain the TV and radio are off when I write, and that my husband and kids are either asleep or off to work and school. Other than that I don’t need much to write, though caffeine comes in handy – that and the company of a few cats.
You have published three novels; do you feel particularly attached to any of the characters you’ve created in particular?
Each novel has one character I feel particularly attached to. In The Good Girl, it was Colin. In Pretty Baby, Willow, and in Don’t You Cry, it’s Alex. These are the characters who have the most moving stories for me, who are feeling lonely, neglected or abused. They’re the ones who keep me up at night, worried for their happiness and safety, and who stay with me long after I finish getting their stories down on the page.
Do you have any knew projects in the works?
I’m just finishing up my fourth novel which begins when a young father is killed in a car crash with his four-year-old daughter in the backseat, completely unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident until the coming days when the little girl starts having nightmares about a car following and pushing them from the road, and the man’s widow sets off to find her husband’s killer. This one is still untitled, but keep an eye out for it in 2017 – more details coming soon!
What are you reading when you’re not writing?
My favorite genre to read is also suspense. I’m a big fan of Megan Abbott, Kimberly McCreight, Carla Buckley, Lisa Scottoline, Heather Gudenkauf and SJ Watson, amongst others.
To learn more about Mary Kubica and her books, you can visit her website here!