Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Susan Furlong

Susan Furlong is the author of several mysteries including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series and Shattered Justice, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. She also contributes, under a pen name, to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series. Her eleventh novel, What They Don't Know, is now in bookstores. Furlong resides in Illinois with her husband and children.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title, What They Don’t Know, propels the reader directly into a twisty story where they meet Mona Ellison, a seemingly normal suburban housewife with a devastating secret. Her life appears perfect to those around her, until her son goes missing, and the police show up accusing him of a heinous crime. Her quest to find her son and prove his innocence, leads her on a trial of social media clues through the sinister side of suburbia where she finds she’s been betrayed by those she trusted most. Or is it Mona who can’t be trusted? Readers will have fun trying to figure out what the characters do or don’t know, and who can be trusted.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenager reader self would fall out of her chair with shock. Not so much because of the content of this slightly strange and twisted story (because my teen self was, after all, a bit strange) or because this is a mystery, because my teenage self read mysteries by the armful (Wolfe, Grafton, DeMille, Burke, Ellis Peters, Koontz …) but she’d be amazed that she would end up a writer. She was supposed to be a teacher, but life is full of surprises … and here I am.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Writing endings is fun but coming up with the beginning of a story is torture. There are too many questions to answer at the start of a manuscript: Past or present tense? How much backstory to include? Third or first person? I started and stopped What They Don’t Know at least a hundred times before I figured out the beginning.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

This is a good question because I write about dark crimes and serial killers, and people who meet me after reading one of my books are often a little leery of me. Thankfully, my characters are straight from my imagination. If they were like me, they’d be terribly boring.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Family is a central theme in every book I’ve written. I come from a happy, but sometimes loud and chaotic family, and our interactions have always fascinated me. It’s no surprise that I enjoy making up families in my books. My faith also influences my writing, which may seem weird considering that I write about crime, and mostly murder and all the ugly motives for killing. But crime fiction is ultimately the story of good vs. evil and the decisions people make when faced with temptation. I push every one of my main characters to the ultimate brink of an evil influence, present them with a defining decision, and then the let the fallout of their decision unfold in my story.
Visit Susan Furlong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Splintered Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Splintered Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue