What inspired you to write Never Coming Home?
I’m from a long line of mystery lovers. As a teenager, I went straight from the Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High to my parents’ detective series like Kinsey Millhone and V. I. Warshawski. However, I actually didn’t discover Agatha Christie until I was in my thirties, when I inherited a big collection of her paperbacks from my grandfather. I was instantly hooked. So many of her stories were true classics, and I wondered how I could take the best elements of those and give them a modern update—to create an iconic whodunit with a diverse cast and the contemporary quagmire of social media. And boom—Never Coming Home was born!
How would you describe your writing process for this book?
I am not a pantser. I plot extensively, and I make detailed profiles for all my characters. By the time I sit down to write, I know what is going to happen and what my characters are going to do. There are always surprises (one of the most fun parts of writing), but this detailed prep work is my secret weapon. With it, I know the blank page will never defeat me.
Did your process for Never Coming Home differ from writing the Babysitters Coven series?
These books are so different! When I was writing The Babysitters Coven, I knew I’d hit gold when I started to LOL. When I was writing Never Coming Home, I knew I’d found it when I wanted to cry.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be precious with your words. Quite often, the best thing you can do for your story is cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. It can be painful to lose that five, ten, fifteen (or in my case, often fifty!) thousand words, but it’s like shedding a really heavy backpack that you’ve been lugging around all day. Once it’s gone, you won’t believe you ever thought you needed all that extraneous stuff.
If you could describe Never Coming Home in one word, what would it be?