I had seen Megan Miranda's first adult novel, All the Missing Girls, around the blogosphere, bookstores, and bestseller lists but never did read it. When I saw The Perfect Stranger, her latest novel, I thought it sounded interesting. Of course, thinking books sound interesting doesn't always mean they are. I was thrilled when The Perfect Stranger totally delivered. This book is so so good!
Here's the synopsis:
In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.
Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?
One of the things that drew me into the story was that Leah was a (disgraced) journalist. My boyfriend is a reporter so it's always cool to read novels featuring characters who have the same profession as you or someone close to you. I was also so incredibly intrigued by what she had done wrong to cause her to give up her job. What was the lawsuit? I was hooked.
And I stayed hooked. I was riveted as Miranda started the story and slowly wove the mystery together, dropping the most subtle of clues (making me doubt if they really were clues). I honestly did not want to stop reading, especially not as all the threads started coming together. I had no idea how everything was going to end up. What was tied together? What was separate? What on earth actually happened?
And that cover? It's a bit creepy but, damn, it's beautiful. I love the colours and the font. It totally suits the overall mood and story.
Like I said, I didn't read All the Missing Girls and I haven't read Megan Miranda's YA novels either. But now? After reading The Perfect Stranger? I am going to have to look them up and add them to my TBR pile because I loved this book. You should definitely pick up your own copy and tell all of your friends to read it too. But make sure you set aside a good chunk of time to read it because you will not want to put it down!
Now, time for an extra special surprise! I have a Q&A with Megan Miranda. I hope you enjoy it :)
Books Etc.: You've made a name for yourself in the psychological suspense genre, like many other authors over the last couple of years. What drew you to this genre? Will you stick with this genre for your next novel or branch out to something new?
Megan Miranda: I have always been a big fan of suspense and mystery. As a reader, I loved piecing together the puzzle, and as a writer, this is one of my favorite elements as well: creating the puzzle, and seeing how the pieces fit together. I also think it’s a genre that lends itself to an interesting exploration of character, because everything is put under the microscope. They don’t have the luxury of time, to think decisions through, so in that way, I find it very revealing of character. Yes, my next adult book will also be a psychological suspense (and my young adult books all have an element of suspense as well).
BE: What kind of research is involved with writing suspense novels?
MM: Honestly, it depends on the book and the different elements in the story. Sometimes it’s visiting places to get a better feel for the setting, sometimes it’s talking to people in specific fields, or in the law or legal profession, sometimes it’s watching documentaries, or reading books and articles. No book is the same, and I really enjoy diving into different aspects with each different story.
BE: What is your writing process like? Do you plot or just see where the story takes you? Do you block out specific times of day to write and always write in one place? Or do you fit in writing whenever and wherever you can?
MM: I don’t do a lot of plotting up front. I usually start with character, a premise, possibly a theme I’m looking to explore more. I try to plot as I write my way into the story and as I get to know the characters. So at the start, I look for turning points: what’s the event that happens at the halfway point? And then, if I get there, I look to the next turning point. But the story develops a lot as I go, and then it changes in revision as well.
I do write during pretty structured hours in my office. I typically work the same time each day, between 9am and 3pm, when my kids are at school. But when I’m under deadline, I have also been known to work in my car while my kids are at an after-school activity, and anywhere I can squeeze in the time.
BE: You've written YA novels as well. What's it like now writing adult novels? Are there many differences?
MM: For me, the main difference is in thinking about the narrator, and the perspective. So in one case, I’m filtering the story through the perspective of a narrator who may be experiencing something for the first time and is working their way to an understanding for themselves. For me, there’s a strong feeling of immediacy in the YA perspective. Whereas in adults, there’s more of an element of hindsight, and perspective. And the story is being filtered through a lens where a narrator is viewing events through years of their own experience. But honestly, that’s the only true difference for me when I’m approaching the story: Who is telling the story, how do they see it, and why.
BE: Both your adult novels feature female friendships that are surrounded by mystery. Why do you enjoy writing about these types of friendships?
MM: I’m fascinated by the inner workings of friendships and relationships, and I’ve tried to explore that in different ways in each of these books. In All the Missing Girls, it was more about a group of friends who knew everything about each other (or thought they did), and how difficult it was to ever move past that perspective of one another—and to become someone new. In The Perfect Stranger, it was sort of the opposite: strangers who knew nothing about one another, who instead met as adults. In this case, I was thinking more about how we present ourselves as a story, and how maybe we see what we want to see, just as much as we tell what we want to tell.
*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*