So excited to have one of my favorite authors, Kristen Lepionka, answers some questions for my blog! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. And for all of you reading, go buy What You Want To See!
Tell me a bit about your new book and how you came up with the idea.
WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE opens with a case that seems ordinary—following around Marin Strasser to prove that she’s cheating on her fiancé. But it turns out that her many secrets are a lot more complicated than infidelity. Without giving away anything, I can say that I came up with the idea in part after watching a true-crime documentary about fraud. It got me thinking that it takes a special kind of criminal to lie to your face to get you to give them what they want of your own free will (as opposed to just taking it by force).
How has your life changed since the publication of The Last Place You Look?
I’ve done more public speaking in the last year than I had in my previous thirty-three years (and probably in a couple past lives as well). Giving presentations is something that I’ve actually always been terrified of, so not only have I done a lot of it, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I still get wildly nervous beforehand—thanks, anxiety disorder—but it’s totally different than it was a year ago at this time. I gave a talk to a group of fourth graders about being a writer a few months back (not about my book, specifically, of course; it’s not exactly fourth-grade appropriate) and one of the kids asked me, “Do you live in a mansion?” The answer is no. That is not among the ways my life has changed.
Did you always want to write mystery novels? What made you fall in love with the genre?
Oh, always, always. I grew up reading mysteries and had dreams of writing a private investigator series when I was like twelve or thirteen. Yes, I was a weird kid. I fell in love with mysteries from reading SAM THE CAT DETECTIVE by Linda Stewart, a middle-grade book whose premise you can surmise from the title. But I loved the way the story was told, and how the truth was revealed gradually. From there I graduated to Mary Higgins Clark, Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, etc. I also watched way too much television growing up as an only child, back when A & E showed actual entertainment instead of reality shows about parking garages or whatever they’re doing now. In the afternoons I’d watch Law & Order, Mike Hammer, Spenser for Hire, Magnum PI, The Rockford Files. It was basically inevitable that I’d turn out this way.
What do you usually do on publication day? Do you have a tradition?
Last year I went out for breakfast with my girlfriend, and then to every Barnes & Noble in the city so I could take a selfie with my book. I was also prepping for my release party that night, so I was a little frazzled. This year, my party is a few days later, so I’ll have time to chill out and savor it.
What are some of your favorite recent reads? And an all-time favorite?
I just finished FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper, who I appeared on a panel with last year at the Harrogate/Theakstons Old Peculier crime writing festival in England. Her first book was excellent, but her second was absolutely stunning. I want to watch a movie of this book, like, now. I also recently read Jennifer Egan’s MANHATTAN BEACH. Her writing is so good it gives me chills. The book is historical fiction with a noir thriller angle, so, very different from her other, more literary work, and it was essentially the best of both worlds. As for an all-time favorite, I can read THE DRIFTLESS AREA by Tom Drury again and again (I always take it on airplanes for this reason). It’s kind of a noir ghost story. For mystery-specific faves, it doesn’t get much better than Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE.