Are you sitting in your favorite chair? Feeling the chills down your spine, as you seem unable to set down your book? You might be reading a thriller.
In the month of October, our book club read the addicting thriller, Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin. Interesting, captivating, the book had the entire group sitting on the edge of their favorite comfy chairs each chapter. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nina. In this interview, we were able to learn more about her life, her influences, and writing. Then, hear about what some of her motives were regarding the characters in Girl Last Seen.
“ I’ve always been interested in the darker side of human nature, so it was great to find a genre where my super-dark themes were not just accepted but welcomed.”
First, we asked Nina to introduce herself. “Hi, I’m Nina Laurin. I write psychological thrillers published by Grand Central. My last two books are Girl Last Seen (06/20/2017) and What My Sister Knew (06/19/2018). My next book is The Starter Wife, another psychological thriller that will be published in summer 2019.” Seeing a trend in her writing,
we had to know what got her writing and what drew her to the thriller genre, which Nina said, “I’ve tried my hand at many genres before finding myself in suspense and thrillers. I’ve always been interested in the darker side of human nature, so it was great to find a genre where my super-dark themes were not just accepted but welcomed.”
We absolutely love her tenacity, and her drive to stay with what she’s drawn to. But, we wanted to know where she started with all of it, and when did she start writing thrillers? Nina expressed, “I’ve been reading them for a long time—they were always my go-to genre for when I hit a reading slump, because they’re so compelling and draw you right in. But I decided to try writing one in 2014, after reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Before that, most thrillers I read starred PIs or police, whom I found difficult to relate to—or at least relate to enough to write from their point of view. And then I said to myself, whoa, you mean you can write suspense about regular people too? I knew I just had to try.”
“If you only read what everyone else is reading, it’s hard to write something that stands out. The muse needs a varied diet!”
Though it may seem obvious, we went ahead and asked, do you like to read thrillers? Or just write them? Humoring us she said, “Ask any writer, it’s difficult to write a genre if you don’t read it. So yes, the answer is I love to read thrillers, and I try to read widely—not just the buzzy books of the moment, but books published many years ago, classics of the genre, books by foreign authors translated into English (I especially love Scandinavian thrillers, as well as German and French), and so on. If you only read what everyone else is reading, it’s hard to write something that stands out. The muse needs a varied diet!”
Naturally, we had to get some book recommendations. “Shamelessly promoting a fellow Montrealer here–last year I discovered Catherine McKenzie when I read her novel Fractured. Last summer she released another fantastic book, The Good Liar. I’m also a big fan of David Bell. My favorite foreign-language book last year was The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani.”
Then, curiosity got the best of us once more.
Word on the street was a new book had made its debut, and another was on the way. We asked her to tell us about her new book; what inspired this new story? “My second book is What My Sister Knew, and it centers around an extremely destructive relationship between twins. It was inspired by a true crime where a very young teen murdered his entire family. I asked myself what the impact on the surviving other sibling would be, and that’s where the idea came from. My third book, The Starter Wife, is coming out next summer, and it’s a classic domestic thriller at heart—with a killer twist thrown in. It’s about a woman who starts to investigate her husband’s first wife’s suicide, and what she finds threatens not just her marriage but her life.”
Two fantastic psychological thrillers at hand, should we get greedy? (Future book club books perhaps?) We weren’t ashamed to ask just in case, Are you planning on releasing more novels? Nina humored us once more, “Hopefully—ha! I have The Starter Wife that comes out next summer, and another as-yet-untitled book after that. And I have several projects going at all times, so keep an eye on my author page for news!”
Then, we wanted to learn a bit more about Nina’s personal life. What’s she doing when she’s not writing? “I like to draw and paint, and I love ballet.”
Lastly, we had reached out to our book club for questions they may have for Nina.
Here are some of the questions that they were itching to know:
1) What was your thought process in writing Girl Last Seen about including a love interest between the main character and the detective? Was it to advance the plot or develop more about a character?
“A little bit of both! I thought it was exactly the kind of messed-up thing Laine would do, and it seemed natural for her character. The fact that Sean reciprocated was meant to show him as a deeply flawed individual, and, ironically, very far from the ideal that Laine sees him as. I don’t like to write about perfect people who always do the right thing. Flawed characters are so much more interesting.”
2) What your main challenges with writing Ella/Laine’s character?
“Finding the right balance between vulnerability and agency. Vulnerability is very much a part of her character and of her identity, but she couldn’t be a total pushover if she were to solve the case after all. She makes a lot of dumb decisions, but when it really matters, she can pull herself together and do what needs to be done.”
3) Do you draw inspiration from any other authors?
“A big part of the inspiration was Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, initially. And of course, Gillian Flynn’s two pre-Gone Girl novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. These books show us dark and unlikable female protagonists, and it works so well—somehow we still end up rooting for them in spite of all their flaws. It’s exactly what I was going for with Girl Last Seen.”
It was such a joy to be able to talk with Nina. Learning more about her writing and inspirations, was incredibly enlightening. We cannot wait to read her new books, and know she will reign in the thriller genre for years to come. You can check out her author site here. Also, we encourage you all to pick up a copy of her latest book. If you missed our October book, to read Girl Last Seen as well. Enjoy! And Thank you Nina!
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