Monday, May 15, 2023

Q&A with L.S. Stratton




L.S. Stratton is the author of the new novel Not So Perfect Strangers. A former reporter, she has written more than a dozen books under various pen names. She lives in Maryland.


Q: What inspired you to write Not So Perfect Strangers, and how did you create your characters Tasha and Madison?


A: I was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Strangers on a Train, which was based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. The film is about two strangers who meet by chance on a train and gripe about their lives—in particular, the people in their lives who are giving them grief.


One of them suggests to the other that they can help each other by murdering those people. It’s taken as a joke by his companion, but he soon finds out that the other guy wasn’t joking.


This is the starting point for my novel but not the full story. I wanted to do a modern spin on the premise that could offer social commentary on feminism and racial dynamics.


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


A: Tasha and Madison are very different women and come from different worlds. White and black. Rich and middle class. One is college-educated from a strict, religious family while the other just managed to graduate high school and comes from a single-parent household.


But they have enough commonalities, such as a history of trauma and abuse, that it creates an instant connection between them that makes the story possible. They are also both very smart, shrewd, and driven, which makes them formidable foes.


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 knew one version of the ending when I wrote my first completed draft but I added some additional elements during the editing process with my agent before we went on submission that changed it somewhat. I figured SOME readers might guess a part of the ending, but not all of it. I wanted each reader to have some element of surprise.


Q:'s review of the book, by Pamela Kramer, says that “what Stratton does is take our assumptions and turns them upside down. Not So Perfect Strangers is a thrilling read with much to consider about marriage, prejudice, abuse and parenting.” What do you think of that description?


A: I was very pleased! I wanted a book that could be read and hopefully appreciated on both the surface level as a thriller with twists and turns you may not see coming, and on a deeper level that explores bigger, overarching themes. I didn’t want to do just a straight re-telling, which has been done (and done well) before. I wanted to add something a little different.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just finished a draft of my next book and it's with my editor right now. It is slated for release in Summer 2024. It's a dual timeline, gothic thriller set in both the present and during the Harlem Renaissance. It was inspired by an eccentric Harlem Renaissance figure.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ve been ecstatic with how well Not So Perfect Strangers is doing and the response from so many readers. I’ve been writing fiction off and on for about two decades now (since I was 19 years old) and this is by far my most popular work. I’m excited to share my next novel that will also have twists and turns but explore some big themes. More to come!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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