Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Q&A with Elise Hart Kipness




Elise Hart Kipness is the author of the new novel Lights Out. A former TV sports reporter, she lives in Stamford, Connecticut.


Q: What inspired you to write Lights Out, and how did you create your character Kate?


A: When I decided to write a novel, I wanted to focus on something I knew a lot about. Before becoming an author, I was a television sports reporter. I thought it would be really interesting to set a murder in that world. 


As far as Kate goes, she’s a way cooler version of me. Kate’s a former Olympic soccer gold medalist. I’m a soccer mom. She’s out there chasing murder suspects. I’m chasing my three dogs around the yard.


Kate also has more serious and complex demons. Her NYPD estranged father abandoned Kate when she was young, which was very traumatic for her. Kate was also forced to reassess her own parenting skills after her son nearly died from a drug overdose. 


But Kate is resilient and resourceful, which I hope are qualities I possess. So, I guess, Kate is a little me—and a lot someone much more interesting.

Q: The writer Tessa Wegert described the book as “A skillfully-constructed story of female friendship, hidden truths, and the mysteries that can lurk in seemingly quiet neighborhoods.” What do you think of that description?


A: Well, first I love this description! Female friendship plays a major role in this story and I’m thrilled Tessa referenced it.


On top of that, the exclusive town of Greenwich, Connecticut provides a great setting for a novel. It’s a place you imagine secrets run deep. Exploring the friendship in the setting of a wealthy suburban enclave gave me rich material to work with. 


Q: What do you think the book says about celebrity, particularly surrounding professional athletes?


A: That’s a great question. In Lights Out, I wanted to explore the fame and fortune that comes with being an athlete at the pinnacle of success. Fame and fortune can burn so bright that it scorches.


It also provides a lot of fodder for a thriller writer. What’s better to write about than jealousy, glamor, and greed?


I also want to point out that it takes great commitment and discipline to become a professional athlete. I admire those who can achieve that level of success. Kate herself is a celebrity athlete, having been a former gold medal soccer player. 


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


A: I did change the ending a few times. It didn’t really solidify until I started collaborating with my editor. She helped me get the ending to a place I feel good about. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on my second book in the Kate Green series. I’m really enjoying writing it. In the second book, I delve deeper into Kate’s background, which potentially holds the key to solving the next murder. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’m just so grateful to everyone who has supported me. Writing Lights Out has been a long road (10 years) and I wouldn’t have gotten here without a community of fellow authors, friends and family cheering me on.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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