Sunday, December 10, 2023

Q&A with Darby Kane




Darby Kane is the author of the new novel The Engagement Party. Her other novels include Pretty Little Wife. She also writes under the name HelenKay Dimon.


Q: What inspired you to write The Engagement Party?


A: I love locked-room thrillers. Any book that traps people who have a shared history (whether they know it or not) together in an isolated place and forces them to divulge their long-held secrets, all while danger rages around them, is a go-to read for me.


Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is a great example of this and one of my favorites. I’d been wanting to write a thriller with that kind of high tension and revenge mix. A trip to Maine helped me think through the idea and then I couldn’t write it fast enough.


Q: How did you choose who would be your point-of-view characters?


A: This can be one of the most frustrating decisions when I start writing a book. I spend a lot of time thinking about who will deliver the story and how.


I have a whiteboard in my office that is integral to my process. Before I ever write a word, I use that whiteboard to sketch out the basics of who the characters are and how they relate to each other and to the plot. From there I think about the characters’ secrets and that gives me a hint about who should be a point-of-view character.


If there are things the reader can’t know for most of the book and a twist I hope to pull off, any character who is central to those pieces usually can’t be “sharing” everything throughout the book.

Q: The novel is set on an isolated island in Maine--why did you choose this setting, and how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: Setting is extremely important. If written well it almost becomes a character with moods and the ability to change the direction of the plot.


The Engagement Party depends on an isolated island setting. That meant I needed to pick a coastal area that would look the way I wanted it to look during the fall. After paging through hundreds of real estate listings in different locations, I decided on Maine.


Also, I write thrillers centered on the idea that bad things can happen in beautiful places, and coastal Maine fit because it’s beautiful.


Q: As someone who writes thrillers as well as other types of novels, do you have a preference when it comes to genre?


A: My usual reads are thrillers or romantic suspense, but I read across genres. When I’m in the thick of writing a book and closing in on deadline, I can’t read the genre I’m writing. That’s when I get caught up on nonfiction titles.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am in the revision process for the thriller that comes out in late 2024. I love this book and it’s my first first-person point-of-view story.


It’s about a woman who blackmails a man to marry her. He’s killed less than 100 days into the marriage. She’s only upset about his death because she wanted to be the one who killed him, and someone beat her to it. The why and how were so much fun to create and write.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I will be doing a few events this year. So, if you’re going to Thrillerfest (in New York City) or BookMania! (in Florida), please come find me. I’d love to say hello.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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