I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have New York Times Best Selling author Eric Rickstad on the blog today talking about his books and his writing. You might recall my review of SILENT GIRLS a few weeks back, and how much I loved it. Well, I'm half way through the next book from this stellar author, LIE IN WAIT, and anticipate loving it just as much, if not more!
About The Book
From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Silent Girls comes another unforgettable thriller set in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, featuring Detective Sonja Test
Even in a quiet Vermont town, unspeakable acts of the past can destroy the peace of the present
In the remote, pastoral hamlet of Canaan, Vermont, a high-profile legal case shatters the town's sense of peace and community. Anger simmers. Fear and prejudice awaken. Old friends turn on each other. Violence threatens.
So when a young teenage girl is savagely murdered while babysitting at the house of the lead attorney in the case, Detective Sonja Test believes the girl's murder and the divisive case must be linked.
However, as the young detective digs deeper into her first murder case, she discovers sordid acts hidden for decades, and learns that behind the town's idyllic façade of pristine snow lurks a capacity in some for great darkness and the betrayal of innocents. And Sonja Test, a mother of two, will do anything to protect the innocent.
1. First things first, we have to ask something I am sure you get asked quite a lot: where do you draw your Inspiration from?
I used to say I got my inspiration from all around me; from books I read, to people I know or met, from nature and from stories I’ve heard. I would also say, as far as the crime element in my novels, that I am influenced by those crimes and flaws in the system that outrage me and fuel my need to express that outrage through stories. For example the outrage I feel when I learn of a violent crime, especially against women or children, and learn that the offender is a multiple offender, who’s essentially made a life out of victimizing others and should have been in prison instead of free to victimize again. I have to ask, How is this possible? How is this person free in society after so much violence done to others? But what inspires me most, really, is the writing itself. The act of it. I never know what I am going to write next. It is the act itself, the discovery, the surprises, that compel me. Sitting down each morning and doing it. To sit and think and write and have the story come to me. In the foreword to RED DRAGON, Thomas Harris wrote: “You must understand that when you are writing a novel you are not making anything up. It's all there and you just have to find it.” I think that is exactly right. So, it’s the act of writing that inspires me most, the revelations that come from the act itself.
2. One of the things I loved the most in SILENT GIRLS was how many of the main characters last names, summed up their personalities perfectly, was this planned and if so how did it come about?
I am glad you enjoyed that. It was not planned. It was part of the discovery, but once it was discovered it played an important role in the characters. I enjoy novels whose characters’ names give insight into their personality and in same ways reflect who they are. So, I give a lot of thought to names and try to pick ones that reflect the characters. It’s a fine line of not wanting to overdo it, make choices that go too far, try too hard. I think Annie Proulx is the best at character names, often she injects them with humor or irony too.
3. Writing and keeping track of all the twists and turns that are in your novels seems like it would be quite difficult. Do you have a process to help keep yourself organized, or have you ever suddenly realized “Oh shoot, that person is supposed to be missing” and had to go back to sort it out.
I sort of go mad trying to keep track. I do go back over and over to keep things straight. I don’t outline anything ahead. That works for some writers, but has never worked for me because the novel dictates, the discovery dictates, and takes over the process, and I am just there recording it. But, I do start to take notes and put down on paper the events that I have written, to see the nuances and keep things straight. My editor and copy editor are critical at helping out in that regard, leaving notes that reveal gaps in logic and the like that I have overlooked.
4. What books would your readers find if they looked on your bookshelves?
Many books would not be surprising: Chandler, Stephen King, Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, Tana French, Laura Lippman, Lehane, Nesbo, Hakan Nesser, Arnaldur Indridason, Ruth Rendell, Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith, Poe. Some books might be surprising, I’m not sure: David Markson, Steven Millhauser, Bruno Schulz, James Baldwin, Jake Hinkson, Roald Dahl, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Roxane Gay, Tobias Wolff, Denis Johnson, Deb Eisenberg, James Dickey, Mark Saunders, Annie Proulx, Samantha Hunt, Alan DeNiro, Larry Brown, Murakami, Donna Tartt, poets Patricia Smith, Hayden Carruth, Robert Hayden. So many. Now I want to stop writing and start reading!
5. Tell us 5 totally random things about yourself.
1) In high school I had the police show up at my house inquiring about rumors of a murder of a skier and my involvement in it. I had made up a story for friends in the school cafeteria earlier that day, and was overheard by students who didn’t know my penchant for tales; so, rightfully, they reported my tale. I learned the power of story there, for sure.
2) One of my very favorite ways to spend time is to catch crayfish in the nearby creek with my 4-year old daughter.
3) I love being out all day in the cold Vermont winter woods.
4) I never reveal my favorite trout fishing spots to anyone except my daughter and nephew.
5) I once drove my first car, a 1968 Mustang, 125 mph on a long deserted stretch of highway at 5 AM in the morning. Stupid. Exhilarating. But so stupid.
6. You can have dinner with any 3 people from all of time and space – who and why?
Well, Springsteen influenced me a great deal, as he has so many people. So him, just to tell him thanks for his work. I’m pretty certain I’d be doing something else if not for his music that buoyed me for long stretches.
My daughter and son (I’m cheating and combining them) when they are in their 70s, to get the real scoop on if I did OK by them as a father. I certainly hope so.
Hitler, so I could poison him.
7. Lastly, can we expect to visit Canaan for another mystery, or will we get something different in the next novel?
There is more Canaan to come. Sonja Test will take on a case in LIE IN WAIT, which is due out in e-book Sept 1, and trade paperback in Feb 2016. And a direct sequel to THE SIELNT GIRLS, tentatively titled PREACHER, is set in Canaan. There are several more novels that will not be set in Canaan. But I love Canaan and I know it will demand more of me; and I will be glad to comply.
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