Two sisters, Ryan and Wendy, are at the core of this novel, and even though they don’t always see eye to eye, Ryan is ready to help Wendy when she needs help. How does their relationship fuel the plot of this suspenseful novel?
Ryan, who is much younger than Wendy, has always been in awe of Wendy. They’ve never lived in the same house, because Wendy was on her way to college when Ryan was born, and afterward she was married and traveling with her new husband. Wendy was the beautiful, seemingly perfect stranger who was so beyond Ryan in everything she did or could do, that there was no hope to compete or to truly win her sister’s affection. Then, suddenly, as the book begins, Ryan is given the chance for both.
I really love the title of this book: A FAMILY OF STRANGERS. It’s very captivating! What does feeling like a stranger in one’s own family do to the characters in your book?
I originally titled this book The Perfect Daughter, and we all loved it. But suddenly there were dozens of books scheduled everywhere with “perfect” in the title. So when I started looking for a new one, I had to think about what set this book apart. I gradually realized that Ryan had grown up surrounded by secrets. No one doted on her the way she believed they had doted on Wendy. She was not the star her sister had been. She had a good childhood, but in some ways she felt like the stranger in her own house and in her family. The title appeared.
This book marks a bit of a genre change for you, from women’s fiction to mystery. Did you find any challenges or differences when writing a different genre?
I’ve had the pleasure of writing a five book cozy series and I’ve also done lots of romantic suspense, so it didn’t feel like a leap. In fact, it never occurred to me that readers would find this book that different from my usual because it’s really women’s fiction, just with a stronger element of suspense. That said the challenge was trying to give both elements the room they needed to grow. Any time we combine two genres, that’s the tricky part.
Ryan is a true crime podcaster in A FAMILY OF STRANGERS. These types of podcasts and documentaries are incredibly popular! Do you recommend any true crime podcasts for readers who may be interested in listening to them?
There are so many good ones. Serial is fabulous. Breakdown is excellent, too, as is Accused. That’s just a start. I recommend that at first, listeners choose podcasts linked in some way to a newspaper because good reporting is the key. These teams also understand how to move a story and how important technical talent is to a podcast.
You’ve written over 70 novels – what an amazing accomplishment! Where have you found the inspiration for so many books over the years?
Never underestimate the newspaper as a source of ideas, both hard news and human interest. The trick, of course, is not to use the story as it’s presented, but to take the germ of whatever is interesting to you, then twist and turn it and find the characters who will make it come to life.
Summer is finally here – do you have any big travel plans? What are you looking forward to reading?
My husband and I spend summers at Chautauqua Institution, an educational, cultural center on Lake Chautauqua in western New York. We visited all four of our children on the drive here, and settled in last week. Right now three wonderful authors are here with me, helping each other brainstorm our books. We’ve been doing this for several years and it’s always a summer highlight. As for reading? I have a reading group on Facebook, Read Along With Emilie Richards, and we’re doing a monthly reading challenge together. This month’s category is a book we’ve had for a long time and haven’t gotten around to reading. So my plan is to start my summer by reading Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.
What can readers expect from you next?
I had the germ of the idea of A Family of Strangers for years before I found the time to explore it. My next book begins with another idea I’ve had for just as long, and I’ll be brainstorming that one with my friends this week. This book, too, will combine suspense and women’s fiction.
Rapid Fire Random Questions
Favorite animal: I’d love to come up with something suitably exotic here, but it’s dogs.
Coffee or tea: I would feel like I was deserting a good friend to choose one over the other.
Favorite book to re-read: We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn.
Beach or mountains: 51% beach
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?: A mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs north of my home in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Dream vacation: Tahiti
Aside from reading and writing, what are your hobbies?: I quilt, cook, and play Mah Jongg with neighborhood friends.
Five people you’d invite to your book club (dead, alive, fictional, etc.!): Louisa May Alcott, Jeannie Gunn, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and my mother.
Favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz. As a child, I read and reread the whole Oz series a dozen times, and the movie never gets old for me.
You have a totally free afternoon – no deadlines, no obligations, no Twitter notifications! What do you do?: Take a long walk, and then pull out one of my quilts in progress and get right to work. I always listen to an audiobook while I walk and quilt, so it’s a double pleasure.
Thanks for the great questions. It’s been a pleasure to answer them.
Could a lifetime of memories…be a lifetime of lies?
All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.
Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.
While Wendy lies low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?
Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?
Women’s Fiction Contemporary [MIRA, On Sale: June 25, 2019, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780778307853 / eISBN: 9781488096570]
About Emilie Richards
Emilie Richards is the USA Today bestselling author of seventy plus novels in several different genres including romance, mystery and women’s fiction. Published in more than twenty-one countries and sixteen languages, her most recent novel is The Swallow’s Nest, a June 2017 trade paperback and hardcover release from Mira Books. She’s won the RITA from Romance Writers of America and multiple awards from RT Book Reviews, including one for career achievement. Ten of her books have been made into television movies in Germany.
Emilie finds relationships of all kinds intriguing and perplexing, and exploring that great diversity of possibilities is her passion. Having lived in nine states and briefly in Australia, she’s also determined to discover how the places we live help make us the people we are.
Right now Emilie divides her time between Sarasota, Florida and Chautauqua, New York, when she and her husband aren’t visiting their four children and grandchildren.
Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.