Kate White – Glens Falls native, New York Times bestselling novelist, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine – will visit Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs on Friday, March 31, and read from her latest book. The reading begins at 7 PM.
White’s new psychological thriller, The Secrets You Keep, was released last week by Harper Paperbacks. “With her personal familiarity with the Saratoga, New York setting, White deftly utilizes the area’s lush scenery, rich history and cultural complexity to deepen the story’s chilling tone,” notes her publisher. The Alt had a chance to connect with White via email to ask a few questions in advance of Friday’s reading.
William Belcher (WB): First, congratulations on the publication of The Secrets You Keep. If I’m not mistaken, it’s your eleventh novel and your fifth psychological thriller. I know a lot of readers are excited to dig into this one. Can you tell us a little about the book, the story, and its setting?
Kate White (KW): Thanks so much. It’s the story of an accomplished self-help author named Bryn Harper who moves into a home with her new husband in Saratoga and begins to worry that something is terribly wrong. An odd object turns up in her desk drawer, her husband begins to act evasive and secretive, and a woman who caters a dinner for them is brutally murdered. Soon, Bryn begins to fear that her own life may be in danger.
WB: Why Saratoga Springs? When you first started working on this project, was it the setting that drove you or did you begin with character or plot?
KW: I generally always start with a rough idea of character and plot but location is important to me too. I like to do a fair amount of research on location. I grew up in Glens Falls and I LOVE Saratoga. I thought it would be really great to set a book there. I adored doing the research. I stayed at this fabulous inn called The Saratoga Arms, I ate in local restaurants, and I had a fab mineral water soak and massage at the Roosevelt Baths. What more could a writer ask for?!
WB: Tell us more about Bryn Harper. Who is she? How did you find her voice?
KW: Bryn is a woman who has always been confident and ambitious, but a few months before the book starts, she was in a devastating car accident that killed a work colleague. She’s having a hard time recovering from that psychologically. Not only does she feel guilty about her colleague dying, but she also doesn’t remember the moments right before the accident, or during, and therefore, she has no idea why her colleague ended up careening off the road. That question haunts her, which makes her a bit vulnerable as other mysteries unfold.
WB: You’re a native of Glens Falls. Can you tell us how your connection to the greater area finds its way into the writing, shapes your experience, or influences your creative process? Did you always know you wanted to write mysteries and thrillers?
KW: The biggest way my upbringing shaped my writing relates to my parents. They were both very supportive and loving, but my mom in particular was amazing. She was aware I loved writing little plays as a girl so she bought me a typewriter and encouraged my writing at every turn. She was just the greatest mother to me. As for mysteries, I knew from the time I read Nancy Drew that I wanted to write them. My mom (Anne White) wrote them too.
WB: You wrote several of your novels while serving as editor-in-chief for Cosmopolitan magazine. Can you talk about your process and finding time to write while managing the demands of a full-time job?
KW: Yikes, that was tough. Cosmo was fabulous but very demanding plus I had two kids and a cute hubby. So, I tried to be very disciplined. I would take the kids to school (I was lucky enough to have a car service) and then work for one hour on my novels before my staff got in. I arrived home at 6:00 every day to be with my family but worked every night for a couple of hours starting around 9:30 p.m. On weekends, I wrote my books on Saturday and Sunday before everybody got up. It’s so much easier now!
I learned to be disciplined because in my twenties I was a horrible procrastinator, and I knew I had to fix it. I pitched a couple of articles on time management, which gave me the chance to talk to top experts on the subject, and I discovered that writer’s block often occurs when you try to bite off more than you can chew. I learned ways to deal with it by breaking tasks down into smaller segments. For instance, when I started writing my mysteries, I wrote for only fifteen minutes a day.
WB: You’re a prolific writer. I read that your next Baily Weggins mystery is due out in the fall. What do you enjoy most about the process? And what surprises you most about the process now, after 11 novels?
KW: I left Cosmo so I could write but mostly so I could have a few years being my own boss. I love it. So, though I do love the writing process (even though it can be exasperating at times), I love most the freedom being a full-time writer brings. One of other things about writing that I enjoy is how the brain often writes for you without you realizing it. I plot my books out but still all sort so surprises happen along the way, things I wasn’t necessarily planning. Sometimes that takes my breath away.
WB: Thank you, Kate.
Meet the author at Northshire Bookstore on March 31, 7 PM. Visit www.northshire.com for more information.