To celebrate the e-book and audio release of Local Woman Missing, the gripping new thriller by Mary Kubica, we sat down with the author and asked her our burning questions about the book, writing, and what she is currently reading.
Hi Mary! What can you tell readers about your new book, Local Woman Missing?
Local Woman Missing is about two women and a young girl who disappear over the course of a few weeks from a Chicago suburb. There is an investigation into their disappearances. While a few things are discovered, the case eventually goes cold, until eleven years later when the young girl – now seventeen years old – suddenly returns, re-opening the case. I was drawn to this idea because we hear so often about missing people, but we don’t hear what happens to them when they come back, and what that reintegration into society is like. I wanted to explore this while developing the bigger mystery of three missing people from an idyllic community.
Your books are notoriously twisty and addictive! Where do you get the inspiration for the twists you write – and do you know what the twist will be from the outset?
With Local Woman Missing I wanted to explore the idea of a missing girl’s return after a period of time in captivity. When she comes back, she has little, if any, memory of her childhood before her disappearance. Her brother, who was only four when she left, has no memory of having a sister. That was the tiny seed of an idea I started with for this novel. The narratives of Kate and Meredith developed from there. I almost always never know what my twist will be, and I didn’t with this novel. I need time to develop my characters and to get to know them before I figure out what secrets they have to share with me.
Local Woman Missing is set in a seemingly quiet and safe town, and the characters are neighbours. What do you think is so fascinating about thrillers set in suburbia?
People tend to think of suburbia as relatively safe. People know one another. Rates of crime are typically lower than in more urban areas. In suburbia, you’ll likely find some affluent and charming towns, like the one I describe in Local Woman Missing. I like to turn that idea on end and make people see that even in a charming and affluent suburban town, crime still happens. You can’t always trust the people closest to you.
Can you tell us what you are reading at the moment? What is your top book recommendation right now?
I’ve just finished reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. It’s not a thriller of course, but a beautiful, heartbreaking and horrifying look at life during the Great Depression and what it was like for one woman in particular trying to raise her children and to survive. This book is especially timely because of the pandemic and, though the struggles Elsa and her family face are far different than ours today, it’s powerful and sad, but also inspiring to see generations before us dealing with struggles of their own like the Dust Bowl, unemployment, typhoid, starvation – and fighting against all odds to survive.
Your novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. What’s your favourite thing about being an author of such thrilling, suspenseful books?
I love writing in this genre because it’s the type of book I love to read! As I said earlier, most often I don’t know what my twists will be, and there’s nothing more exciting for me as an author as having that ‘aha’ moment when the pieces of this mystery finally come together and I see how the book will end. I love when my characters shock me!