Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Siren?
A: Before I became a novelist, I spent over a decade in Hollywood working in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera, so it’s a world that I’m intimately acquainted with.
An incredible amount of teamwork goes into creating a film and depending on the people involved, a set can be a dream or a nightmare, but either way it’s insular and intense, and creates all kinds of interesting relationships and dynamics.
I wanted to write something that took place in that world, told from multiple points of view to showcase how we never truly understand what’s going on in someone else’s mind.
The three protagonists in The Siren are very different women, each with her own struggles and viewpoint, and each makes assumptions about the others that turn out to be false.
Q: The writer Karen White calls the book "a wry look at the bright lights of fame that can both illuminate and incinerate." What do you think it says about the potential and peril of fame?
A: Over the time I spent in Hollywood, I saw up close how fame and the pursuit of glory can affect a person, and found it fascinating.
Celebrity is truly a double-edged sword; it both opens and closes doors. The glitz and glamor are enticing, but the cost is your privacy.
You may breathe rarified air, but you do so as others watch as though you’re not a real person with real problems but an animal in the zoo that exists purely for their entertainment.
The adoration of fans may buoy you, but the same people that raise you up and praise you will just as soon tear you down and demean you––and the higher your pedestal, the farther you have to fall.
Still, fame is addicting. In the words of Stella, one of the characters in The Siren who is an actress struggling to regain her career, “The maddening truth is that once you’ve bathed in the warmth of the limelight, you find you’re damn cold when it no longer shines on you, no matter how you despised its glare.”
Q: The book takes place on a Caribbean island. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: Setting is absolutely a character in my writing! I like to call my books “escapist fiction,” and a big part of escapism is setting.
I want my readers to really feel like they’re there on the island with the characters. I want them to smell the salt air, see the mottled turquoise Caribbean Sea sparkling beneath a bright sky, feel the warmth of the sun on their skin.
I want them to feel like they’ve taken a beach vacation when they finish the book, even if they’re snuggled on their couch in the dead of winter.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: First off, I hope readers are entertained and have a good time reading The Siren, and that it gives them a break from their everyday lives and problems.
I also hope it helps people understand that things are not always as they seem. Whether it’s a juicy story you’re reading in a tabloid or a neighbor with a bad attitude, you never truly know what someone else is going through, so it is important to have compassion for others.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My next book follows a washed-up model who unexpectedly inherits her uncle’s estate only to find his wife leading a suspiciously cult-like spiritual group at his retreat center deep in the Mexican jungle. Unsure who to trust, she must discover how her uncle truly died before she meets the same fate.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My books are a genre-bending mix of suspense, adventure, and romance with deeper themes exploring the human condition. I embrace the term “beach read” for the fun it implies, and hope each of my books makes for an entertaining and satisfying read that keeps you turning the pages past your bedtime!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb