Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Q&A with Edwin Hill


Photo by Thomas Bollinger



Edwin Hill is the author of the new novel The Secrets We Share. His other books include Little Comfort. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts.


Q: What inspired you to write The Secrets We Share, and how did you create your characters Natalie and Glenn?


A: This novel had a number of false starts. For a while, it was about an elite private school in New Hampshire. Then, it was about a therapist who spies on his clients. That character, the therapist, had two sisters and a brother. Somehow, the two sisters’ roles kept getting bigger, while the brothers finally disappeared from the story!


There used to be an abandoned factory about a mile from my house in Boston. It was dilapidated and surrounded by a chain link fence, and very close to the campus of a high school.


One day, I was driving past it and I started to imagine what might happen in that factory, and whether the students from the high school ever snuck into it. Then, I imagined one of the students daring another to go in, and what that hapless student might find. The story evolved from there!


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between the two sisters?


A: Natalie and Glenn are very, very different.


Natalie is the older sister. She’s a Boston police detective, and she’s very straitlaced and by the book, but she’s also lonely and has a drinking problem. Glenn is a high achiever. She worked as a consultant before turning her energies to baking. Now, she’s on the cusp of a huge success that the events of the novel jeopardize.

I wanted the sisters to be very different, and yet close at the same time. Like most siblings, they know how to push each other’s buttons, but, in the end, they have each other’s backs.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “Hill keeps the clock ticking and the twists coming right up to the shocking conclusion.” Without giving anything away, did you plot everything out before you started writing?


A: Once I figured out the inciting incident – the body being discovered in the factory – some of the pieces began to fall into place. This novel is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, though, and for a long time I felt like I was trying to figure out how each piece fit together.


There was this wonderful moment about a month before the manuscript was due to my editor where everything fell into place. It was a huge relief.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: I try to choose titles that relate to the themes of the book. One of the themes of this book is that secrets can have different meanings to different people, even when the secrets are about the same incidents.


In this novel, Natalie and Glenn both believe they know something, and they both believe they’re the only ones who know that thing, but the way they interpret that knowledge is different.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I took the idea I rejected for The Secrets We Share and am developing it into a new story, so it’s about a psychiatrist who spends more time spying on his clients than treating them. It will be a standalone thriller.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The Secrets We Share is a standalone thriller, but fans of my other novels will enjoy some brief cameos by familiar characters!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Edwin Hill.

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