Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Q&A with Marie Still




Marie Still is the author of the new novel We're All Lying. She lives in Tampa.


Q: What inspired you to write We're All Lying, and how did you create your character Cass?


A: I am fascinated with how emotions impact, both positively and negatively, people’s behavior. Jealousy is one of those emotions. This book starts with an affair, so jealousy is an obvious theme. However, jealousy is found within the pages extending beyond just Cass, Ethan, and Emma’s love triangle.


When this story began forming in my mind, I kept coming back to jealousy, and all the different places it rears its ugly head in life. Jealousy at work over a missed promotion, of a friend who went on a vacation you can’t afford, of the neighbor who has a bigger house.


It’s also one of those emotions which can turn people into much worse versions of themselves. They may do things they wouldn’t normally do, act in ways they wouldn’t normally act.


Another concept I wanted to explore were situations where people on the outside looking in say things like, “I would never…” But you never really know how you’ll react to a situation until you’re in it. These broad-stroke statements don’t really fit, as life is never so tidy. It’s chaotic and messy and nuanced.


What would you do if you received an email from your husband’s mistress? What would you do if that mistress started stalking you? What would you do if she disappeared? Those answers may not be so cut and dry. And that’s the story I wanted to tell.


Some of my characters are completely made-up people, not inspired by real life. Eloise, the affluent, PTO president, stay-at-home mom serial killer in My Darlings, is an example of one of these made-up characters (thankfully I am not a serial killer).


Others have pieces of me. Cass is one of those characters, her probably more than any of my other characters. Beverly Bonnefinche in Beverly Bonnefinche is Dead has a bit of me too. Cass’s story is uniquely hers, but there will be things she says or thinks that friends will highlight and send to me laughing at the similarities. 

Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I had an ending in mind for We’re All Lying when I sat down to write it. It made the first draft. After my first read-through it didn’t feel like the right ending. There were a few twists in there that didn’t feel like they should be the twists.


Two endings later, and I finally landed on the one that made the book. I’d like to think that it will shock readers, as it was shocking to me, the writer!


When you start writing a book, your characters are a bit like ghosts; you have an idea of who they are, but not all those interesting facets that make people unique.


As I got further into these characters’ stories, they became fully formed humans. I knew them better, their faults (which they all have a lot of!), their strengths, their personality quirks. It was this exercise in getting to know them on a deeper level that allowed me to have a better understanding of where their story would go.


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


A: The working document of this book was titled “Affair”--as you can see, very creative, very original. I almost never title my books until I’m a few drafts in, so they all have these non-titles.


Once a book is finished, I’ll usually pull the title from a line in the book, as in the case of We’re All Lying. The title was born from a line in the first chapter:


If. When did her guilt come into question? I let my vision blur, then tell my story. At least the parts I’m willing to share.


We’re all liars, after all.


Q: You tell the story from several characters' perspectives--did you write the book in the order in which it appears, or did you focus more on one character before turning to the others?


A: I’m not much of a planner when it comes to writing, which is very much the opposite of how most thriller authors approach a book. Because of this, I crank out my first drafts pretty fast, and most of the work happens in the proceeding drafts. This process also leads to me writing from beginning to end, all characters’ point of views.


With We’re All Lying I played with the POVs a lot. There were other characters who had chapters that didn’t make the final draft, and there were certain scenes which I wrote from different perspectives, only deciding which head we would experience the scene from after they were drafted.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: The Elisa Lam video at the Cecil Hotel had such an impact on me the first time I watched it. As a mom, I saw this video and felt so strongly for her parents. The bizarreness of it made it go viral, however I imagined what her friends and family must have felt while watching those last moments of her life which only created more questions than answers.


This feeling has stayed with me for a decade and inspired my latest psychological thriller. It opens with an apartment building owner watching the last moments of one of his tenants captured by the building’s security cameras.


We’re All Lying and Beverly Bonnefinche is Dead (written under Kristen Seeley) are releasing in 2023, My Darlings in 2024, so this will be my 2025 release.  

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love connecting with readers on social media. Getting DMs and emails as they read and hearing their guesses has been a lot of fun. Also, my TBR is overflowing with their book recommendations.


So if you love thrillers, let’s be friends! I’m on Instagram and TikTok as @mariestillwrites and you can sign up for my newsletter at


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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