Interview ~ Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

How do you define success?

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to feel like you’re not enough, and that you can never measure up, and I’m really susceptible to that pressure, so I try to define success as having worked hard and done one’s personal best, not by external measures of success. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

First and foremost, I want to entertain. There’s nothing I like better than hearing from readers that they couldn’t put the book down or that they read it in one sitting.

With Just Between Us I hope readers will be as interested as I am by the book’s central question—how far would you be willing to go to help a friend?

How many books are in your TBR pile?

Oh, the pile is huge! So many books, so little time! I’m reading some great books right now: The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti, Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia, and advance copies of Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser, The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon, and Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey.

Where is your favorite spot to write?

I like writing in my office, which is cozy and filled with books. I’ve got a comfortable chair, motivational quotes on the wall in front of my desk, and usually a cup of tea at my side as I sit down every day to put words on the page.

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Just Between Us is the first book that I’ve written in first person, and its got four first person female points-of-view, so that was really challenging!

I tried to get the voices distinct, while also having some similarities, because while we all have different personalities and patterns of speech, we end up sharing a common language with the people we’re closest to and I wanted to show that bond between friends.

How did you know you should become an author?

I fell in love with language at an early age, and discovered that I enjoyed making up stories. At about age 11, I realized that being an author was a job, when a teacher told me that she thought that’s what I’d become one day. With the first $100 I earned, I bought a typewriter so I could write faster. In high school another teacher wrote on one of my papers, “It’s clear you’re having a love affair with words.” It took me years to realize the dream of being published, but I’ve been writing since I was young.  

What is your favorite scene in your book?

Ooh, hard to choose! I love making the twists work, so that’s always fun, but I can’t give those away. There’s a scene at a bar in Just Between Us that I really enjoyed writing—hope readers enjoy it, too!

What books do you love that don’t get a lot of hype?  

I’m a huge fan of the late, great British writer Ruth Rendell (a.k.a. Barbara Vine), and while she’s certainly had lots of praise, there are some books that haven’t gotten as much attention so I’ll mention one of those, The Fever Tree. It’s a collection of brilliant stories that show her absolute mastery of psychological suspense.

Do your characters really talk to you? 

Yes, they do, but I swear it’s not a mental illness, lol! When the process is going well, writing a novel is often like transcribing a movie that’s playing in one’s head and you’re racing to keep up with what all the characters are saying and doing.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?

I’ve had three great pieces of advice at separate pivotal moments in my life:

First, when planning my wedding, a friend told me that weddings can be stressful and become focused on the families, instead of on the commitment being made by the couple, so to make sure to remember to enjoy the day.

The second was when I had my first child, and older parents advised me and my husband to remember to take couple time, and to try and keep a sense of humor.

And last, when I was a fledgling novelist, author Nancy Martin told me that to be published required learning as much as I could about the business, but to then put my focus on craft, because ultimately the only thing writers can control is the craft.

How do you react to a bad review? 

By sobbing and plotting my revenge—mostly kidding! It’s never easy to read a bad review, but you can never please everybody and reviews are part of the job, along with rejection. Writers have to have thick skins and eat lots of chocolate.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?

I was a complete bookworm, so I had many favorites! Among them, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss, and The Persian Boy by Mary Renault.

Do you write as you go, or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?

I’m definitely a plotter, and like to plan my books before I write, but that being said I don’t plot out everything. I tend to know the beginning and have a sense of the end and of some major plot points, but I always discover new things about the characters and/or the plot during the writing.

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 9, 2018)
Genre: Suspense/Thriller, Women's Fiction
ISBN-10: 1250167205
ISBN-13: 978-1250167200
ASIN: B01MR48RV0
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository

just-between-us

Four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime in Just Between Us, a heart-stopping novel of suspense by Rebecca Drake.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

I was born in New York City and moved to Indiana, Ohio, back to Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I was the always the new kid, attending nine schools in 12 years including four different high schools.

Wherever we moved, one thing was a constant—we always lived near a library and a bookstore. Books were the friends that never said goodbye and great companions on long, dusty U-Haul trips from one place to the next. Each new apartment or house became home once the books were unpacked.

I was a petty thief as a child, a skilled liar, a card cheat and a Girl Scout. I was also a bookworm (some things never change) and always wrote “reading” first on any list that asked what I did for pleasure.

I love books so much that I worked as a library aide for three years in high school and narrowly escaped being fired because I spent so much time reading the books I was supposed to be shelving!

I started writing in my early teens and knew at 15 that I wanted to be a novelist, though it took me years to realize that dream.

After high school, I attended two small colleges before graduating from Penn State with a degree in Journalism. I married and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but the wanderlust has remained. I’ve traveled to countries I read about as a child–the Cook Islands, Egypt, China, and Turkey among others. I’ve also had the good fortune to live for a time in Qatar, a country I came to regard as a second home.

Like many authors, I’ve had an assortment of jobs that paid the rent: Reporter, technical writer, freelance copywriter, and editor among others. In addition to parenting two delightful children, my resume has recently included becoming an adjunct instructor for Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction.

As a teenager, staying up late devouring the latest Stephen King novel, I used to wonder what it was like to be married to him—did his wife sleep uneasily, one hand poised to dial 911? It occurred to me recently that this is what my husband and many authors’ spouses might be doing.

I’ve always been intrigued by the dark side, by the potential for evil that lurks in all of us, by what triggers seemingly average people to commit brutal and heinous acts against other human beings. However, I’m equally fascinated by the capacity for goodness and kindness that also dwells within us, amazed and inspired by the stories of ordinary people who confront cruelty with courage or choose compassion over vengeance.

For me, it always comes back to the matter of choice. In all my writing I’m interested in exploring those turning points in our lives that make us the people we are and sometimes, for better or worse, the people we never thought we’d be.

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Comments

  1. Burma Turner says:

    Very interesting interview. This book sounds amazing.

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