We recently chatted with Catherine McKenzie about her new release, The Good Liar: A Novel, now available wherever books are sold.
1. What inspired you to write The Good Liar: A Novel?
Several ideas that I’ve had for a long time coalesced all at once. Years ago, I had started wondering whether anyone had ever used a tragedy to escape their life. I liked the idea as a central part of a book but couldn’t organize the whole story in my head. I’d also thought it interesting that some people might run toward a tragedy—like people who attend support groups for diseases they don’t have. Finally, I wanted to explore the impact that a tragedy might have on someone—what are the lives like behind all those iconic photographs? Ultimately, I wanted to explore the various ways that a tragedy might influence and affect people and put that within a suspense framework.
2. What goes through Cecily Grayson’s mind as she witnesses a horrifying explosion standing safely on the street?
I think she’s mostly just completely shocked. Her husband is in the building; she was supposed to be. She’s frozen. Later, I think she has feelings of guilt that most survivors feel. She lived, he died—what is the meaning of that? But in that moment, I think she was just trying to process what she was seeing.
3. As Franny Maycombe watches the tragedy unfold on the morning news, how does she cope with the realization that someone very important to her is no longer alive?
While Franny watches the news about the tragedy she realizes that her birth mother works in the building in question and what she’s watching is not only a community tragedy but a personal one. This shakes her, obviously, but I also think Franny sees this as an opportunity to change her life. She runs towards the tragedy, even though she was only on the outskirts of it in many ways.
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4. As the anniversary of the disaster nears, how does Kate Ring react knowing that she fled the scene?
Kate is very stressed about the upcoming anniversary. She’s been trying to forget the disaster for a year and she knows that she’s not going to be able to do that anymore. Even though she’s a thousand miles away in Montreal, it’s already starting to dominate the news cycle, and her boss is kind of obsessed with talking about it, which drives her nuts but isn’t something she can do anything about. She’s been barely keeping herself together for the last year and she’s starting to fly apart.
5. How does the common thread of the deadly explosion tie these women together?
You’ll have to read to find out! But, figuratively, think of them as three versions of the same story: one that runs away, one that runs towards and one that’s drawn in against her will. They are all tied together in one obvious way—they have a link to the same tragedy, but they’re also tied together in multiple other ways that you discover throughout the novel. I think there is a common idea that tragedy is a tie that binds, and I wanted to explore that in multiple ways. I think tragedy can also be something that tears people apart.
6. Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you share with us?es! I am finishing the second draft as we speak and it will release April 2, 2019! The title is still in flux, but it’s about five adult children who inherit the family property. They return home one weekend to decide what to do with it, but they have to resolve what happened to a young girl twenty years earlier before they can.
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