Interview // Author Catharine Riggs

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From your “about” page, you’ve had quite a different career path than you do now as a writer. You’ve been a banker and a college instructor, so what inspired you to become a writer? 

I was a voracious reader as a child and my love for reading grew throughout my teenage years. In college, I made a brief attempt at writing and was so dismayed by my early work that I set aside my plan to be an English major and went the MBA route instead. As the years went by, I became immersed in work and family life. I was happily married with two wonderful daughters and a full-time job. But the desire to write still nagged at me, and when my youngest daughter entered high school, I revisited my dream. Wrote in secret for a couple of years and eventually came out of the closet and began attending writing workshops and conferences. It took three full novels to snag my agent, five to secure a contract for my first book, What She Gave Away. What She Never Said is the loosely linked second in the series entitled Santa Barbara Suspense.  

What captured you to begin writing within the psychological suspense genre?

I’ve always been intrigued by the stories people tell about themselves and the masks they present to the world. Within the parameters of the psychological suspense genre, I can apply an outside threat to a seemingly perfect person or family in order to expose a hidden wrong or uncover a buried secret and then watch how my characters react.

What was your most satisfying moment while writing What She Never Said?

When Ruth finally acknowledged her secret, and in doing so, admitted to her weaknesses. 

Did you find What She Never Said stayed along your chosen path or developed into a completely different book once completed?

I am a “seat of the pants” writer so my novels always evolve into something different from what I originally planned. Voices come first, followed by a vague idea for a plot. By the time I sit down to write, I usually know the beginning and ending of the novel, but those too may change. That is my favorite part of the writing process; I am always surprised by the development of my characters and the unforeseen twists in my plot. My antagonist may develop into my protagonist or vice versa, or my protagonist may reveal a terrible secret that can shock even me. Ruth’s secret in What She Never Said is just such an example. I wasn’t sure of what she was hiding until halfway through the first draft. 

Do you have a favorite character from your books? Why this specific character?

Ember is my favorite character in What She Never Said. She’s a secondary character but a crucial element of the overall plot. She’s an amalgam of all the kindhearted women I’ve known throughout the years. Women who look at the upside of any situation and find the good in everyone’s soul. 

What She Never Said Book Cover
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If you only had one sentence to capture a new reader for your books, what would it be?

Wealthy retirees pay the ultimate price for their dark secrets.

Do you have a favorite genre you like to read?

I’ll read a novel from any genre as long as the prose is strong. The music in the language is what grabs me first. 

What author has inspired you the most in your writing?

Patricia Highsmith, the grandmaster of psychological suspense. 

If you could only recommend one book (from a favorite author), which one would it be and why?

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. This book is not only well crafted with beautiful prose but also is an emotionally wrenching crime drama that draws you in from the very first page. It’s a powerful story of childhood friendships and doomed lives, with a complex and flawed protagonist and enough plot twists to keep the reader on her toes. 

What one book do you recommend that every thriller genre lover read (not including your books)?

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The author is such a master of her craft that I fused with the unnamed narrator and did my best to ignore the clues. I reread the novel every couple of years in order to reeducate myself on du Maurier’s exquisite technique.

Of course, we have to know, what is in-store next – books, events, etc.?

I’ve recently completed a thriller about a young woman who goes in search of answers to the mystery of her mother’s long-ago disappearance and stumbles upon her mother’s killer. I’m currently at work on a near-future thriller about a young mother’s cross-country escape from an abusive relationship, only to encounter a deadly virus that could signal the end of the world.

Riggs keeps the tension high to the dramatic climax.

Publishers Weekly

What She Never Said is a fast-paced, compulsive read—and I speak as a slow-paced, easily distracted reader.

Ashley Dyer, award-winning author of the Lake & Carver series.

A compelling read that will keep you awake well into the night.

T.R. Ragan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

Beneath the weight of metastasizing secrets, idyllic veneers buckle to reveal shocking truths that will haunt readers long after the final page.

P. J. Vernon, acclaimed author of the debut thriller, When You Find Me

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Catharine Riggs. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Gift Card and Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) print copy of What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.
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Catharine Riggs lives and writes on California’s central coast. Before her dive into thrillers, Riggs worked as a business banker, adjunct college instructor, and a nonprofit executive. What She Never Said is the second novel in her loosely linked Santa Barbara Suspense series. The first, What She Gave Away, was published by Thomas & Mercer in September of 2018.

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