New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda is a writer thriller fans know and love. With multiple bestselling adult and young adult novels under her belt, she is back this summer with one of the most anticipated books of the season, The Last House Guest. We got to catch up with Megan about her new book, the books she loves and her must-haves while on book tour. Learn more about Megan here and order your copy of The Last House Guest now.
What was the inspiration behind The Last House Guest?
I usually start with a character or relationship that develops alongside an idea, but The Last House Guest was inspired first by place. It’s set in a small vacation town on the coast of Maine, and I knew I wanted to explore different perspectives of the same place. I was really interested in the contrast of insiders (the characters who live in the town year-round) and outsiders (those who visit each summer). But as I got further into the story, I realized that Avery embodied both sides of that equation – she is someone who grew up as an insider, but now feels like an outsider. I also find there are similar themes I keep coming back to. Much like in All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger, The Last House Guest is centered on a complicated friendship that grounds Avery’s life. But in this case, the characters come from vastly different worlds, and when her best friend turns up dead, Avery is driven to uncover what really happened – before she becomes a suspect herself.
Did you always know you wanted to write thriller/suspense novels?
Yes, but I think subconsciously at first! I grew up reading mysteries, and was always drawn to the darker themes in books. My mom was also a huge thriller reader, so these were the books I would grab off the shelf, falling into their worlds.
I was also a kid who was afraid of everything, so I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why I kept coming back to stories like these. But I think I sought them out because, as a reader, you’re making your way through it, coming out the other side. As a writer, I like to take that same journey alongside the characters, developing the plot around them. I’m definitely someone who loves character-driven stories; to wonder about the secret lives hidden inside the ordinary.
I think the themes I’m drawn to are also suited to these types of stories. In thrillers, there’s no luxury of time – morality is put to the test. Characters have to act on instinct, and I’m fascinated by what that reveals.
If you had to choose three to five of your favorite books of all time, what would they be and why?
Such a tough question, because it changes so often! I’ll go with the stories that impacted me at different times in my life:
I was a kid who loved both science and writing, and someone gave me a copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park –it blew my mind and combined two of the subjects I loved the most: an exploration of science packaged inside a thriller. I was hooked.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, which is hard to define and packs such a punch in a way that sneaks up on you. Same with The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, which, like the above, is hard to define without giving too much away – but it was so surprising, and resonated on such an emotional level. Both of these made me really want to write about the young adult years.
It’s almost impossible to pick my favorite thrillers because there are so many! But I am such a fan of character-driven psychological suspense – Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad Series… Every few months, I find a new favorite.
What is the one thing you can’t live without while traveling on a book tour?
One thing I’ve learned on book tour from traveling with a small carry-on and packing for multiple temperatures is that I realized I can go without a lot of things. I have (accidentally) left behind a lot of essentials through the years, but the one thing I’ve never gone without is my laptop. (Though, to be fair, I always think I’m going to write more than I actually do!)
Which books are you most looking forward to reading next?
There are so many books that I’m looking forward to this summer! My list grows weekly (as does the pile of books on my nightstand), and I always love getting new recommendations. But the book currently at the top of the stack that I’ve been very excited to start is Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.