Don't miss out on this summer's most addictive read from Michele Campbell, author of It's Always the Husband. Pick up a copy of She Was the Quiet One now available wherever books are sold!
1. What inspired you to write She Was the Quiet One?
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 to reveal, through twists and turns, what really happened.
2. When the Enright twins enroll in a prestigious New England boarding school, what goes through their minds?
For Rose, enrolling at the Odell School is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for vulnerable Bel, overwhelmed by grief at her mother’s death, Odell is a place of temptation and danger. Rather than leaning on her more practical and secure sister, Bel turns to the wrong people for support and guidance. One of those is Heath Donovan, a charismatic and ambitious English teacher whose weaknesses put Bel at grave risk. But there’s also a crowd of wild rich kids, who pressure Bel into hazing her own twin. Rose is deeply hurt by her sister’s behavior.
3. When Bel gets caught up in a hazing incident, how does it affect the twins’ relationship?
A. The relationship is shattered. The hazing attack leads the sisters down a dark path. They are on different sides of a pitched battle, as some students are expelled, and others seek revenge. It’s the responsibility of the dorm heads, Sarah and Heath Donovan, a married couple, to investigate the hazing attack and discipline the students involved. Heath and Sarah’s troubled marriage is a focal point in the book, and part of the story is told through Sarah’s eyes. She’s a dedicated math teacher and advisor in the dorm where the sisters live. She’s also a wife and mother whose young family faces unfathomable risks due to her husband’s ambitions and flaws. Sarah must decide whether the terrible rumors about her husband and Bel Enright are true, and if so, what to do about them. Sarah’s choices will change the twins’ lives forever.
4. In the midst of chaos, both Rose and Bel seek comfort from adults. How do their choices escalate the situation?
After the hazing attack, Rose turns to Sarah Donovan for guidance. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband, Heath. Is Heath trying to help Bel -- or take advantage of her? The relationship between Heath Donovan and Bel Enright is the most controversial aspect of She Was the Quiet One. It’s also ripped straight from today’s headlines. In recent months, one famous prep school after another has faced claims of sexual abuse of students by teachers or staff, with many of the reports of abuse stretching back decades. And boarding-school sex abuse is now a hot topic in the press, on television as well as in major newspapers and periodicals, including intensive investigative reporting by the famous Boston Globe Spotlight Team. The relationship between Heath and Bel is one of the darkest aspects of the book, and central to the mystery of She Was the Quiet One.
5. As moms, how do we best prepare our teenagers for real-life situations as portrayed in the book?
A. Great question. There are two teachable situations in the book. The first is the hazing attack, in which one sister gives into peer pressure to attack the other. I think it’s extremely important to alert kids to the danger of groupthink and peer pressure. If you’re alone with a friend who suggests doing something stupid or lawless, it’s a lot easier to say no than if you’re with five friends, and they’re all riling each other up. Give your kids strategies for stepping away from the group without losing face, and for having the courage of their convictions when something feels wrong.
The second teachable situation in She Was the Quiet One involves a vulnerable young girl falling victim to an authority figure who’s a predator. This is thankfully a rarer occurrence than peer pressure, but it does happen. Again, the best prevention is open communication. Be there for your kids, listen to them, and hopefully you’ll know enough about what’s going on in their lives to help them avoid danger. Bel’s greatest vulnerability was that her parents had died, and she had no adult guidance.
6. Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, please give us a sneak peek!
Yes, and I’m so excited about it! A Stranger on the Beach will be out Summer 2019. It’s the story of a scorned wife's indulgence in a brief fling with a man she meets on the beach, which descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her husband’s murder. It’s Fatal Attraction meets Gone Girl. This one is hot!
Looking for more book recommendations? Check out our summer picks here.
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