Monday, April 3, 2023

Q&A with Elle Marr




Elle Marr is the author of the new novel The Family Bones. Her other books include Strangers We Know. She lives in Oregon.


Q: What inspired you to write The Family Bones, and how did you create your characters Olivia and Birdie? 


A: It was through research for my previous books that I realized we know so little about the origins of psychopathy. There is some evidence that the psychopathic trait can show up in families, but that's not always the case.


I wanted to explore what might happen if there were multiple instances of psychopathy within one set of close relatives and how the ripple effects through the generations would either settle along the shore or swell into a tidal wave.


My main characters Olivia and Birdie were also inspired by my research. When I come across a crime, I often wonder how the family of the perpetrator is affected; Olivia is my exploration of those unintended victims. Birdie is a stay-at-home mom and true crime podcaster, and I tried to echo in her character the many modern podcasters who investigate cold cases to make real headway in shedding light on long-forgotten injustices. 


Q: Can you say more about why you decided to focus on psychopathy in the book? How did you research the topic? 


A: I briefly taught psychology abroad and have always felt a fascination with the study of our minds. As a result, I've been reading about neurodivergent conditions for years, keeping up with the current scientific assumptions and taking note when psychopathy appears in the headlines. With the rise of True Crime, psychopathy has become even more topical, and the research examining the condition more readily available. 

Q: The novel is set in a remote area of Oregon--how important is setting to you in your writing? 


A: For me, setting is its own character; without it, the reader loses an important aspect of the immersive experience of reading. So, it's always a goal of mine to ensure my setting comes alive in specific ways.


In The Family Bones, for example, the view of a treeline, the morning orchestra of wildlife, the scent of pine, and the deafening absence of traffic are all ways I hope the reader's senses are piqued as they navigate the page.


Q: The writer Samantha M. Bailey said of the book, “With a fresh take on the locked-room mystery, Elle Marr weaves a perilous and pulse-pounding tale of nature versus nurture.” What do you think of that description, and how would you say the nature vs. nurture debate affects the characters? 


A: I love Samantha M. Bailey--both her books and her kindness as a person--so this endorsement means so much to me.


The choice of words, that The Family Bones is a "perilous and pulse-pounding tale," is gratifying in that I want the reader to feel caught in the trees during the Eriksen family reunion, anxious for the outcome as much as the next scared forest animal.


The ongoing debate between nature and nurture, and whether a psychopath is born or made, is heavily explored in The Family Bones, both through the eyes of Olivia Eriksen, the family's resident psychologist, and through the eyes of my true crime podcaster Birdie Tan.


A lot of prejudice exists against neurodivergent conditions out of a fear of the unknown or the unusual, and Olivia tries to dispel that mystery through her observations of her family -- to reassure herself and her academic community that psychopaths are socially conditioned to be contributing members of society. But as Olivia finds herself stranded at a mountain resort with her estranged relatives, she begins to doubt her analysis. 


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: My next thriller, The Alone Time, is set to publish in March 2024, and it's a cross between Showtime's Yellowjackets and Karin Slaughter's Pretty Girls. I'm deep in edits on this next book and I can't wait for readers to experience the ride!


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: I love engaging with readers across platforms. If you're on social media -- TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter -- I'd love to connect with you there. Thank you, Deborah, for these great questions!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Elle Marr.

No comments:

Post a Comment