Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Q&A with Kate White


Photo by Jordan Matter



Kate White is the author of the new novel The Last Time She Saw Him. Her many other books include the novel Between Two Strangers. She is the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine.


Q: What inspired you to write The Last Time She Saw Him, and how did you create your character Kiki?


A: The plots of some of my books come from headlines I read or snippets of conversation I overhear, but others, like this one, just pop into my head, sometimes almost fully formed.


I just knew one day I wanted to write about a woman who knows someone she cares about was murdered, but everyone else believes he took his own life, and she’s desperate to prove them wrong. And since this is a man she broke off an engagement to, her frustration is tinged with plenty of guilt.


Kiki is a successful career coach who has created her own small business, and since I’ve written several successful career books in addition to 18 suspense novels, I used information I’m familiar with when I had Kiki advise her clients. Tip: during a job interview, always sit a little bit on the edge of your seat because it shows your enthusiasm.


Overall Kiki is very together, but she was fired by a spiteful employer a decade or so earlier, someone whose advances she rejected, and she’s still smarting a little from that experience. Sometimes it cuts into her confidence. I think we all probably have some old doubts we carry around with us.


Q: The book takes place in Connecticut and New York City. How important is setting to you in your writing?

A: Setting is very important to me. I never include a ton of setting details because I think that can bog down a thriller, but I love to add interesting touches you would only know if you’d been to a given place.


I live in New York City, so I know it well. As for Litchfield County, Connecticut, I visited it numerous times for the book. Ha, it helped that my son lives there.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: Harlan Coben once told me that he thought research was a form of procrastination, and sometimes it can be, but I often find research really helpful. It enables me to get facts right, especially forensic details, and sometimes when I’ve come across a fascinating detail I didn’t know, it’s also provided me with a plot twist.


In The Last Time She Saw Him, Kiki wonders, only half-jokingly, if the house she’s staying in, which her ex-fiancé was renting before his death, could be haunted because weird stuff has been happening there. So here’s something fun I learned from my research: the tell-tale signs of a haunted house include weird noises, cold spots, unexplained smells, and a sense of being watched.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope they find it to be a suspenseful, twisty thriller and that it keeps them up past their bedtime. And that if it does keep them up, they’ll forgive me.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m almost done with my next psychological thriller, which has been really fascinating for me to write because the first six chapters take place in Uruguay, where I live in the winter with my husband.  


And I’m working on a Bailey Weggins novella. She’s the true crime writer in my mystery series.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Kate White.

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