New York Times bestselling author Shari Lapena has become something of a household name with hit books like The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House and An Unwanted Guest. This July, Shari returns with her latest novel Someone We Know. With all the buzz around this new release, we got the chance to catch up with Shari to talk books, writing inspiration and more.
What was the inspiration behind Someone We Know?
I was looking around the internet one day and saw something about a boy who broke into a neighbor’s house in the middle of the night to use their Wi-Fi because his had been turned off at home. It got me thinking about what sorts of trouble a teenage boy could get into in the middle of the night, and what the repercussions might be. I imagined a computer-obsessed boy breaking into neighbors’ houses to hack into their computers, and what he might discover. And then I thought about how his mother might react when she found out, and what the fallout might be from that. I decided she would send anonymous apology letters, so then, of course, everyone was worried that their secrets might have been discovered. It just went on from there.
If you had to choose three to five of your favorite books of all time, what would they be and why?
That is so difficult! I read a lot of thrillers, but I also read memoir, nonfiction, literary, etc. Here are a few I love:
The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
I love memoirs, the more dysfunctional the family the better. This family is plenty dysfunctional. Mary Karr’s story of her appalling childhood split between her hard-drinking father and her mentally ill mother is told with great humor, style and insight into the human condition. Perfect for fans of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle – and who isn’t a fan of The Glass Castle?
The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon
This is a non-fiction work by a successful doctor who diagnosed himself as a psychopath as a middle-aged adult. It’s an absolutely fascinating journey into the psychopathic mind, and I’ve always been curious about the psychopathic mind.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
In this literary thriller, a mother looks back on her troubled relationship with her son, who has just murdered many of his classmates. This book gave me such chills that sometimes I had to just sit for a minute. It’s absolutely brilliant and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Two teenaged boys have committed a horrific crime. Their concerned parents meet at a restaurant to discuss. But as you listen, you realize there is something even more amiss here. It’s absolutely chilling.
Which authors do you admire most?
So many – I admire Kate Atkinson because she can do anything. I think A God in Ruins has to be one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read.
Also, Gillian Flynn for her dark relationships, Anthony Horowitz for his cleverness and wit, Agatha Christie for her ingenious plots, Kazuo Ishiguro for his subtly unreliable narrators… and Anthony Trollope just because I love reading him.
What is the one essential you carry with you at all times during book tour/events?
The one thing I always carry with me on tour is whatever I’m reading at the time. I’m never without a book (or a few books) when I’m traveling. I love flying and taking trains because it’s forced downtime and I get to read for hours. I find it impossible to do actual work while traveling, but I always have a big TBR pile and traveling gives me a chance to catch up.
Which books are you most looking forward to reading next?
I’m looking forward to Linwood Barclay’s latest, Elevator Pitch. I’m eager to get my hands on Anthony Horowitz’s The Sentence is Death. Also on my bedside table are the latest books from Laura Lippman, Laura McHugh, Mary Kubica and Caroline Kepnes – to name a few.
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