From The Booking Desk:
Back in May, I had the great pleasure of meeting Mary Kubica while attending BookExpo America. Mary and I clicked instantly and I just knew I was going to enjoy her novel. I was beyond thrilled when Mary agreed to participate in this interview at BOLO Books. I have little doubt that my followers are going to be equally taken with this talented writer who is rocking the suspense fiction world.
BOLO Books: With The Good Girl, you seem poised to be a bit of an overnight success. What has the road to publication been like for you? Do you have several “practice” novels tucked away in drawers?
Mary Kubica: Yes! I have quite a few practice novels, or at least parts of them, tucked away in a small storage crate in my basement. For the most part, I try to avoid looking at them but every now and then I sneak a peek, and depending on what I grab, I either grimace at the poor writing or dull storyline, or am pleasantly surprised.
The road to publication began when I was about 11 or 12 years old and decided I wanted to be a writer. From there, it continued as I locked myself in my bedroom with the family typewriter and toiled away on manuscript after manuscript until – twenty some years later – I wrote The Good Girl. One of my favorite parts of the process is how I acquired my literary agent. After finishing the novel and querying just about any and every agent I could find (all of which were met with rejection letters), I had come to the conclusion that my novel would never be published. Two years later, I received an out-of-the-blue email from one of the agents, asking about the status of my book: had it been sold, and was I represented? After almost two years, she said, your story still resonates with me. A few months later I had a publishing contract.
It’s been a whirlwind from there – from seeing the cover for the first time, to traveling to promote the book, meeting authors and readers. It’s been such a thrill for me! I can’t say enough good things about my experience, and feel so thankful to everyone who has helped my dream come true.
BOLO Books: What is your elevator pitch for The Good Girl?
Mary Kubica: A Chicago woman, Mia Dennett, goes missing and her mother and a detective try to find her. The reader discovers soon after that Mia makes it home safe and sound, but without any memory of her time in captivity. Through the eyes of her mother, the detective and the kidnapper himself, the reader discovers the details behind Mia’s disappearance – where was she, and why – jumping back and forth in time from the early days of her abduction to many months later, after she’s returned.
BOLO Books: I really like the title The Good Girl and I think you hit pay dirt with your cover design (both the US and UK versions). What do you think of the covers? And how did the title come about?
Mary Kubica: I absolutely love both covers – they left me speechless! They’re stunning, and have gotten such a great response from the readers and the press. I cannot thank the Harlequin Books art department enough for that. I had prepared myself for the possibility that I wouldn’t love the cover design, but as soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew it was perfect.
But how did the title come to be? In The Good Girl, the reader hears from the mother, the detective, and the abductor himself, Colin Thatcher, and all portray their own unique image of Mia: from the missing daughter, to the victim, to a woman Detective Gabe Hoffman has never met. The title is fitting, as a reminder that this is a novel about Mia, though Mia’s voice is rarely heard.
BOLO Books: The Good Girl first made its way onto my radar when I was doing research for my trip to BookExpo America. Once I got there, I saw that giant billboard-sized poster of your book and knew it was one I had to get. What was the whole BEA experience like for you?
Mary Kubica: In one word: amazing! I had no idea about the giant billboard-sized poster of The Good Girl until I saw a photo that you had shared on Twitter, Kristopher – and then I was so excited to get to the Javits Center and see it with my own eyes! The whole experience was just unbelievable, from signing galleys, to interacting with readers and other authors. The love of books and literature was almost palpable there at BEA. Just amazing! I hope I get a chance to go back in future years.
BOLO Books: Did you snag any books at BookExpo America that you just couldn’t wait to devour? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Mary Kubica: I snagged quite a few Harlequin MIRA books at BEA that I cannot wait to read – Paula Treick DeBoard’s The Fragile World, and Jason Mott’s The Wonder of all Things certainly top the list! I’m also very excited for Ann Hood’s An Italian Wife, which I grabbed at BEA. Next time I need to plan better; there were so many wonderful authors that I missed out on seeing. I know now to be better prepared in the future!
I have quite a few favorite authors, in just about every genre, though thrillers and suspense are usually my go-to when I’m looking for something to read. S.J. Watson and Liane Moriarty are two authors that come to mind immediately. I also love Ann Hood, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult – though The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is by far my favorite book of all time. I have a background in American literature, and have read and enjoyed many of the classics: Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. It’s hard to pick a favorite!
BOLO Books: Structurally, The Good Girl is a very complex novel. There are multiple points of view and the timeline is anything but linear. How did you go about developing that format and did you write it in that manner (or did you write more linearly and move chunks around later)?
Mary Kubica: I wrote the book linearly and moved chunks around later, just as you guessed! It was much easier for me to get into the characters’ state of mind if I could focus on a set time and place, such as the Before chapters or the After chapters. Therefore, I wrote Eve and Gabe Before, Colin Before, and finally, Eve and Gabe After, and then merged them all together into one complete book. It was very satisfying for me to see the three novellas come together into one!
BOLO Books: If you could have Mia leave your book and enter another, where would she go and which character would she want to interact with?
Mary Kubica: Wow, what an interesting question! I’d have to say Victoria Jones from Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers (which is a beautiful book – a must read for anyone who has not already) because, although there are certain obvious differences in their childhood and experiences, these women share a sense of isolation and alienation from the rest of the world. I think Mia and Victoria would find that they share a common bond, and have much to talk about.
BOLO Books: Who was the first person to read the finished book and what was their reaction?
Mary Kubica: The first people to read The Good Girl were the handful of literary agents that asked to read the manuscript after I sent out dozens and dozens of queries! I wrote the novel in complete secrecy, and didn’t let anyone – family, friends, etc. – read the book until after it had been sold to Harlequin MIRA and was completely edited. I didn’t belong to a writer’s group, or have a critique partner, and my creative writing education was limited to one college class that I didn’t particularly like. I knew actually publishing a book was a long shot, and in all honesty, had very little faith it would ever happen. I suppose this was why I kept it to myself, but it felt wonderful to finally be able to share The Good Girl with my family and friends.
BOLO Books: What is next for Mary Kubica? Have you begun your next book? Any hints?
Mary Kubica: Yes, I’m so excited about this! My second novel Pretty Baby is done, and will be released at some point in the future (more details coming soon!). It’s another suspense novel about a Chicago woman who stumbles across a young homeless girl with a baby, waiting beside the Chicago ‘L’. The story delves into their lives and histories, and explores what effect this chance encounter will have on the both of them. And as is the case with The Good Girl, nothing is truly as it seems. I can’t wait to share this novel with all of you! It’s been such a fun project, and such a different experience than when I wrote The Good Girl.
BOLO Books: If forced to choose only one format for all your future reading, which would you choose: Hardback, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, or e-book? And why?
Mary Kubica: I love this question – though it’s not an easy one! Definitely not e-books. Although I do own an e-reader, and it has its time and place, I love the feel – and smell – of a book in my hands. I guess I’d have to say trade paperback. They’re easy to handle, small enough to stuff in my purse, and look amazing on a bookshelf.
It’s been so great getting the chance to chat with you here today at BOLO Books. Thanks so much for having me!
From The Booking Desk:
It was my pleasure Mary! I wish you best of luck with the launch of the book today. And I look forward to many conversations in the future as you continue to explore the world of suspense fiction.
Scheduling Update: Stop back here at BOLO Books tomorrow to see the full review of Mary Kubica‘s debut novel, The Good Girl.