An Interview with Michele Campbell – the Author of International Best Sellers ‘It’s Always the Husband’ and ‘She Was the Quiet One’
So, Christmas is just days away and the holiday season has already begun – I am having a long weekend and that means I get to read A LOT of awesome books and share them with you guys! I am soo excited today, because I am featuring one of my FAVORITE authors on the blog today. She is a lovely person, inside out, and she writes spellbinding thrillers to keep you at the edge of seat!
Today in the interview, Michele Campbell talks about her newest book ‘She Was The Quiet One’ which is all set to release in January! She also spills some very interesting secrets that she hides in her books for her readers to find!!! PLUS there is an exclusive synopsis of her third book releasing later in ’19! Scroll along to read all these awesome stuff along with her ‘Book Details’ at the bottom of the page.
Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases. A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels. She has had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.
Syllables of Swathi: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
First, I want to thank you so much for inviting me to join you here on Syllables of Swathi and introduce your readers to my books!
I am a lawyer by training and worked as a criminal prosecutor in New York before beginning my writing career. That gave me great background for writing stories of crime and suspense. She Was the Quiet One is my second psychological thriller after last year’s top ten London Times bestseller It’s Always the Husband. My books are tales of flawed people who find themselves in desperate and dangerous situations. They are full of passion and breathless suspense.
I previously published four procedural crime novels under a different name a number a years ago, about a prosecutor in New York. As far as I know, those books are not available in the UK, but they taught me a lot about pacing and plot. My new books use that knowledge to great benefit while also delving deeper into the characters and relationships at the center of the crimes, for a rich, suspenseful and exciting reading experience.
SOS: Pleasure & pride are mine Michele. Now I WANT/HAVE to read your procedural novels soon. Wondering how I missed them!
So, Where were you raised? Where do you live now? Do you have any pets?
MC: I am from the New England area of the US and live there still, in a small university town that provides great material for the settings of my novels. I had a colorful fish named Swimmy but, sadly, he passed away. Because I travel a fair bit for my work, I don’t have any other pets. I love dogs and hope to get a dog when I have the time and attention to devote to one.
SOS: Aww, I always get sad when pets die. One reason I hesitate to have pets at home!
Now, your new book ‘She Was the Quiet One’ is all set to release in January. Tell us a bit about the book. How long did it take for you to write it?
MC: My first psychological thriller, It’s Always the Husband, struck a nerve with readers by chronicling the twisted relationships among three young women who meet as freshman roommates at an elite Ivy League college. I knew I wanted to keep writing about these intense relationships between women and dig even deeper.
She Was the Quiet One is the story of twin sisters, Bel and Rose Enright, who are sent away to boarding school at the tender age of fifteen under tragic circumstances. The school environment shatters the sisters’ close relationship, to the point that, at the moment the book opens, one sister has been murdered and the other is suspected of killing her. The book then flashes back to the beginning of their time at Odell Academy to reveal, through twists and turns, what really happened.
She Was the Quiet One went through many additional drafts and took longer to write than the first book. This is not unusual for second novels, which are notoriously difficult. In previous drafts of this book, I had included additional points of view. Ultimately, my editor and I felt earlier drafts were too complicated, and I rewrote the book completely to streamline the storytelling and create a more propulsive plot. But that additional work still shines through, I hope, in characters more textured and fully realized than one often finds in plot-driven thrillers.
SOS: Pretty sure your hard work is shining high in the sky! How did you come up with the concept for your new book? Tell us about your inspiration.
MC: I began with the concept of sisters who fell out to the point of murder. I was searching for a setting at a moment when the news in the U.S. was full of stories of boarding school sex abuse scandals. One famous U.S. prep school after another faced claims of sexual abuse of students by teachers or staff, with many of the reports of abuse stretching back decades. (Similar charges have also been made against schools in the U.K.) At the same time, the “Me, Too” movement was underway in the US, leading to reexamination of the treatment of women and girls in the workplace and in academic settings. I decided that the boarding school setting would make a great backdrop for this tale of the love/hate relationship between two sisters, with one sister having a great secret – an inappropriate relationship with a male teacher.
Having gone to a boarding school myself (though as a day student), I knew the wonderful and compelling aspects of boarding school life but also understood that abuse could be possible in that insular environment.
Odell Academy, the school in She Was the Quiet One, became a character in itself, with its beautiful, leafy campus, its mean girls and charismatic, troubled teachers. The murder plot came together beautifully against that Gothic backdrop.
SOS: Here’s something I find interesting in your books. The character names -They’re unique & classy! How do you select them? Tell us a bit about your writing process.
MC: Thank you, I very much appreciate that compliment! I give each character unique mannerisms, appearance, characteristics and voice. I believe the character’s name should fit and define them as perfectly as these other traits.
I give great thought to their names, taking care to choose names that fit not only with the characters’ sex and age but their nationality, ethnicity, social status and personality.
I avoid strange or unusual names because I think they take the reader out of the story. When you hear the name of a character in one of my books, it should conjure a person exactly like the one described. That adds to the overall experience of authenticity and immersion that I try to create for my readers.
SOS: That’s something every aspiring writer should learn from the expert! Could you tell us an early experience you had, where you learned that language had power?
MC: I was a devoted reader from a young age. My parents both worked, so I was home alone in the afternoons, responsible for the care of my younger brother. I read to feel less alone and to be transported to other worlds. Readers know the power of words to change, to inspire, to carry them away. My love of reading naturally led to a passion for writing.
SOS: Do you have any unpublished and half-finished books?
MC: I do have an unpublished manuscript! It’s the story of a young girl growing up in poverty in the projects in New York City, the bad things that happen to her and how she triumphs in the end. It’s very different from anything else I’ve written. Hopefully one day it will be published.
SOS: Oh I wish we get a chance to read it too! So, What does literary success look like to you?
MC: It looks like being asked interesting and thoughtful questions about my writing process for the readers of Syllables of Swathi! I am honored to be featured on your blog.
SOS: Officially on cloud nine right now! Thanks so much Michele. 🙂
Fun fact: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
MC: Yes! But you have to read both books to find them. Specifically– a minor character from It’s Always the Husband shows up in a more significant role in She Was the Quiet One. Also, a character in Quiet One is the daughter of a character in Husband, though you will only notice this if you pay careful attention to characters’ last names. Also, the boarding school Odell Academy appears in both books.
SOS: Okay peeps, hear that? This means we SHOULD get reading both of her books to decipher her cryptic clues, don’t you think?
To Michele: What are you working on currently? When can we expect your next book?
MC: My third psychological thriller, A Stranger on the Beach, will be released in the US in July 2019. I expect it to become available in the UK as well, but it does not yet have a release date.
Here’s a brief description:
Caroline appears to have it all. But her marriage and her lavish lifestyle are collapsing around her. When she looks out the window of her opulent oceanfront mansion and glimpses Aidan, a handsome stranger, she can’t imagine the destruction that awaits. Their brief affair means nothing to her and everything to him. As Aidan’s obsession with Caroline turns toxic, her family is threatened. But who is playing whom in this deadly game of obsession and control?
SOS: Your words of wisdom for aspiring writers. What are the most important magazines you’d advice writers to subscribe to?
MC: My most basic advice is to read the sort of books you want to write. If you write suspense, read suspense. If you write romance, read romance. Read the great authors in your chosen genre but read them not for pure enjoyment. Read “above the lines” – for insight into the author’s word choice, her construction of the plot, her characterization and settings. In terms of other reading, there are many wonderful online sources for authors that discuss craft and technique. Also, follow book blogs like Syllables of Swathi to keep current with new releases and see what readers are enjoying.
Thanks so much, Michele for sparing time to do this brilliant Q/A. I know it’s festive season and your book’s release is nearing, there must be lots on your plate and I am so grateful to have you featured on Syllables Of Swathi! I’ve really enjoyed reading ‘She Was The Quiet One’ and am adding ‘It’s Always the husband’ to my TBR. I can’t wait to read your next book, but before that I want to wish you all the very best for your new release to be the next ‘International Seller’! Lots of love. xxx
IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND
Three young women who could not be more different meet as college roommates and become fast friends. Wealthy, privileged, blonde and gorgeous, Kate Eastman seems like she has it all. But her Park Avenue upbringing conceals a tragic loneliness and a wild side powerful enough to drag down everyone around her. Aubrey Miller comes from a poor family and can’t believe her luck when she winds up at prestigious Carlisle College rooming with Kate and Jenny. Aubrey would follow Kate anywhere — to parties, to nightclubs, even to her death. Jenny Vega — bright, pretty, ambitious — is the practical one, the striver, who’d rather study and get ahead than party. She adores her roommates, and she knows they’re bad for her. Will she save them from themselves, and each other, or will she become another victim of the chaos that follows in their wake?
A terrible tragedy at the end of freshman year leaves these three young women with a dangerous secret. Twenty years later, older but perhaps no wiser, they return to the scene of the crime. When one of them winds up dead, it could be suicide, or it could be murder. If it was murder, was it the husband – like the cops think – or was it the best friend? This book will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Click here to read the first chapter.
SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE
When twin sisters Rose and Bel Enright enroll in The Odell School, a prestigious New England boarding school, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. But the sisters could not be more different. The school brings out a rivalry between them that few ever knew existed. And the school itself has a dark underbelly: of privileged kids running unchecked and uninhibited; of rituals and traditions that are more sinister than they seem; of wealth and entitlement that can only lead to disaster.
For Sarah Donovan, wife of an ambitious teacher who is determined to rise through the ranks, Odell also seems like the best thing that could happen to their small family. But how well does she really know her husband? What lengths will he go to to achieve his goals? And when one dark night ends in murder, who is guilty, who knows the truth, and who has been in on it all along? SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE. Because murderers are almost never who you expect.
Click here to read the first chapter.