What inspired you to write THE RECEPTIONIST?
I started writing THE RECEPTIONIST while on maternity leave. It was an interesting time because I was busy with a newborn, of course, but it was a different type of busy than I’d experienced in my working life. Parenthood seemed gentler on the mind than my job as a television producer. I compared who I’d been just a few months prior – a little harder, maybe a little more cynical – with motherhood, which demanded more softness from me. It got me thinking about the role of vulnerability in women’s lives. This led to the first version of Chloe, the title character of THE RECEPTIONIST. I’d initially conceived of her as being a bit like Cinderella – a fair maiden type from a fairytale. I pictured her embodying all these antiquated feminine ideals of humility and meekness, waiting for someone to notice her innate goodness. What would happen if you plopped someone with zero savvy into 21st century Los Angeles? I figured it wouldn’t end well for her. Chloe changed quite a bit from this initial concept. I had to make her less passive as the plot picked up, but the first seeds of the book came from me thinking about vulnerability.
How did your first-hand knowledge of reality TV help to shape the characters?
I had a lot of fun with the entertainment industry scenes! Most people I know in entertainment are normal, down-to-earth, and hard-working, but there are also these larger-than-life folks who are ripe for parody. I love Dr. Maryn, a celebrity psychiatrist. She’s someone who uses her charisma when it suits her, and then turns it off when she doesn’t need it. I get why she has to do that. Everyone in her orbit wants a piece of her, and it’s exhausting to be “on” all the time. But she essentially transforms a part of her personality into something transactional. I’ve seen it create a warped environment when people aren’t careful and grounded
Let’s talk about Emily. How do her professional and personal lives differ?
Emily’s career is front and center. I think her mistake is in trying to make her professional and personal lives not differ. She wants to blend them and chooses someone who will look good on her arm, add to her power and cachet. After realizing that Doug is a cheater, she chooses to go ahead with the marriage mostly for professional reasons. Canceling the wedding will mean scandal and public embarrassment. She’d much rather swallow the humiliation and endure it privately than admit weakness in front of her colleagues and clients.
What happens to Emily that puts her marriage in jeopardy?
This marriage is synonymous with jeopardy! When Emily gets pregnant though, I think things start to get a little more real for her. She first experiences pregnancy as an affliction. It’s when she’s at her most vulnerable that her choice to stay with Doug starts to backfire. Doug is a serial philanderer, but there’s so much that comes along with that type of personality. He’s a dishonest person through and through. His actions eventually threaten everything Emily has built.
Why is Chloe seeking comfort in the arms of a married man?
I don’t think Chloe knows why she does what she does. If you asked her, she’d probably say the affair with Doug began as a lark. He was sexy. She wanted him. But there’s this tiny bit of spite circling the start of her and Doug’s relationship. She’d had a demeaning encounter with Emily prior to her decision to go for Doug. A lot of Chloe’s volatility is preceeded by rumination. She starts thinking about how badly she’s been treated, and then poof! – she’s acting out. I’m not sure if she even understands how her thoughts influence her actions.
Let’s switch gears and talk about your writing experience. What’s it like to author amoral characters in an amoral world?
I think about this idea that’s sometimes referred to as the religious critique of contemporary life – that as our world has turned more secular, we’ve lost some sort of unifying moral guidance or cultural agreement on what it means to be a good person or live a meaningful life. I’m not here to argue the merits of this critique, but I do love how closely it aligns with the noir ethos. I think we’re in a challenging time in terms of what we worship and respect as a society. The emphasis is often on strength and achievement over considering other people, especially in the workplace. THE RECEPTIONIST is an investigation into this winner-take-all environment I see around me. I wrote the book partly in an attempt to make sense of people like Emily and Doug.
And for readers, what’s the best way for them to connect with you and keep up-to-date on your latest happenings?
I have a news and events page on my website – www.katemyles.com. You can also sign up for my newsletter there.
Thank you for stopping by to chat about your debut novel, THE RECEPTIONIST. Best of luck with your highly addictive domestic thriller.
My pleasure! Thanks so much, Jen!
In this domestic thriller, sex, ambitions, and disaster burn more intensely than the Los Angeles sun.
Emily is a top talent agent who rules the land of talk shows and reality TV. Whip-smart and brutally practical, she outmaneuvers all rivals…except in her personal life. Emily willfully ignores her CEO husband Doug’s philandering in exchange for their glamorous one-percenter lifestyle, until a surprise pregnancy changes everything.
A TED-Talking business guru with a reckless streak, Doug embarks on an audacious relationship with Chloe, the stunning young receptionist at his market research firm. But Chloe has a secret: a volatile past she’s desperate to forget. Their chaotic entanglement sets off a chain of shocking scandals, plunging Emily into a scheming fight for survival.
As they each try to fight their way to the top, there’s only one question: How far will Emily go to protect her child and preserve her carefully curated life?
Thriller Domestic [Thomas & Mercer, On Sale: July 6, 2021, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9781542027458 / ]
About Kate Myles
Kate Myles has worked as television producer for a variety of networks, including Discovery, OWN and the Food Network. Before her producing career, she was an actor and comedian, enjoying a two-year stint as a host of the Travel Channel series, Not Your Average Travel Guide, among other adventures. Her short fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Necessary Fiction, and Storm Cellar Quarterly. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.
About Jennifer Vido
Jennifer Vido is best known for her nationally syndicated Jen’s Jewels author interview column. A savvy book blogger she dishes the scoop on the latest happenings in the publishing business. As a national spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation, she has been featured by Lifetime Television, Redbook, Health Monitor, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, Healthguru.com, and Arthritis Today. She is the author of the Piper O’Donnell Mystery series. Currently, she lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and two sons.