Patricia MacDonald is the author of The Girl in the Woods, which was published by Black Thorn Books on 4 July 2019.
Patricia kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Girl in the Woods.
This suspense novel concerns a young woman named Blair who has escaped her unhappy childhood by sheer will. She has acquired an education, her own company, and a home in Philadelphia. But she reluctantly returns to her childhood home in the mountains to attend to her sister, who is dying of a terminal illness. Once there, Blair must contend with not only the racist, alcoholic Uncle who raised them, but the realization that the murder of her best friend in childhood has been blamed on the wrong person.
2. What inspired the book?
I always wanted to write a book that opened with a deathbed confession. The dramatic possibilities of such a scene are irresistible to a writer. I also wanted to delve a little into the political differences that are plaguing so many families in my country today. That became a useful conflict in the plotting of this book.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I used to make a detailed plan in the early days of my career. But I found that my story often diverged from my plan. In fact, the plan became a handicap. So, gradually I began to work chapter by chapter. However, I always try to keep a very tight control of the plot. As a reader I have no patience for a plot which meanders, especially in a thriller.
4. Having been through the publishing process is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
The Girl in the Woods is my twentieth novel. Very little surprises me any more.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I live on the Atlantic coast, and I love to take my books to the beach and read all afternoon. I’d rather be in my wonderful, small town than any other place on earth, but my husband and I do like to travel a bit. Our great pleasure is to follow the career of our daughter, who is a theatrical costume designer. She works in theaters located in lovely regions all over the USA. We often spend a few days seeing her plays, and visiting her in the towns where she creates her theatrical magic.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, because it is dense and long and I have never finished it, though I have started it many times. If I had to pick a book I’ve already read, it would surely be The Ambassadors, by Henry James.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Q. How much of your own life is in your books?
A. All of my life, and none of it. My heroines confront their dilemmas with my thoughts and intuition, and experience their tumultuous lives with my emotions. Everything essential about me is there, in the thoughts of my heroines. But in my own life I have never actually had to confront the terrible, dangerous circumstances in which I place them. I uncover truth, face death, and puzzle out a means of escape while I remain at the safety of my desk. The best of all possible worlds!
About the book
‘I have to tell you something… I did something bad.’
Fifteen years ago, Blair’s best friend Molly was murdered. Fifteen years ago, Adrian Jones went to prison for it. Fifteen years ago, the real killer got away with it.
And now, Blair’s terminally ill sister has made a devastating deathbed confession, which could prove that the wrong man has been imprisoned for years – and that Molly’s killer is still out there. Blair’s determined to find him, but the story behind Molly’s death is more twisted than she could imagine. If she isn’t careful, the killer will ensnare her and bury Blair with his secret.
*I was asked to host this Q&A to help promote The Girl in the Wood. I received a copy of the book but did not receive any other payment.*