Anna Snoekstra is the author of the new novel Little Secrets. She also has written the novel Only Daughter. Her work has appeared in The Guardian and other publications, and she is based in Melbourne, Australia.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Little Secrets, and for your character Rose?
A: Believe it or not, the main premise of Little Secrets is actually based on a true story.
A few years ago I read an article about porcelain dolls that were found on doorsteps of family homes. The creepiest part was that the dolls looked just like the daughters that lived in the houses.
It turned out to be an innocent misunderstanding, but the whole idea of the dolls, and the way people reacted to them, was fascinating to me.
I love crime stories that don’t have a traditional detective as their main character, but instead feature a regular person with invested interest in the mystery.
When I first started writing this book, my first novel, Only Daughter, had been accepted by a publisher but hadn’t been released yet. I had spent the previous five years working nights at a cinema/bar, and spending my days trying to get my writing career off the ground.
I channelled those feelings of desperation and drive into the Rose character. She is a budding journalist who latches onto the story of the dolls as a potential story and ticket out of her dead-end job at a pub.
Q: In this novel, you tell the story not just from Rose's perspective, but from the perspectives of various other characters. Why did you decide to structure it that way?
A: Structuring the novel to include different perspectives felt like the only way to tell the story I wanted to tell. I was fascinated with examining the way the truth can be twisted and manipulated.
Everyone sees the same events in different ways, so therefore have different ideas of what truth is. They bring their own desires, prejudices and previous life experiences to any situation and I wanted to show how much they can colour what each individual perceives as the truth.
Q: The novel takes place in a small town. How important is setting to you in your work?
A: Really important. For me, it is on par with character as the most important part of a story. Setting is usually the first part of a new concept that comes to me. Colmstock in Little Secrets is more than just a town. I created it as a symbol of claustrophobia and dashed dreams.
Before Colmstock, I’d always set my works in real places. It was really liberating to create a whole new place just from my imagination. I wanted it to feel real, and to make sense spatially, so I created road maps and set out where all the buildings and important locations were in relation to one another. It was actually really fun!
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
There’s so many! I try and read widely, not just crime but literary fiction, young adult, graphic novels and literary fiction as well.
Some of the authors I love at the moment are Candace Fox, Elizabeth Jolley, Emma Cline, Maggie Thrash, Emily Maguire, Samantha Hunt, Francoise Sagan and Angie Thomas, just to name a few.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: At the moment I’m working concurrently on another crime novel as well as a young adult novel!
The crime novel is about a young woman who is sitting in a police interview room waiting to confess to a crime. She was the victim of bullying by a group of girls in high school and has spent the next 10 years tracking down each of her tormentors, infiltrating their new lives, and getting revenge.
My young adult novel is about a group of teenagers living in a mountain town who believe them selves to be adopted. As they work together to try and find the truth of their parentage, they discover that the situation is much more sinister than adoption. It is a secret that goes to the centre of the town itself.
Both of these novels are coming out this year and I’m so excited!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Just a thank you for asking such interesting questions. I’ve really enjoyed answering them.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Anna Snoekstra.