Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Perfect Stranger: What Have You Told Them?

The Perfect Stranger coverHave you ever met any of your blogging friends in person?

With blogging a large part of our lives, author Wendy Corsi Staub has incorporated that into her latest thriller, THE PERFECT STRANGER, the second installment in her ‘cyber predator’ series that was released yesterday.

Wendy is joining us today to answer some questions about her writing and her latest book. First, here’s a brief description of THE PERFECT STRANGER.

      During the darkest period of her life—her battle with breast cancer—Alabama mom Landry Wells found solace in a group of online bloggers who had been in her shoes and lived to tell the tale.  She's shared things with her online friends that even her husband and children didn't know. Things that now, looking back, make her uneasy.
      At last, years later, the close-knit, geographically scattered circle of online friends is about to meet in person at a funeral for a fellow blogger.
      Though these women are no strangers to death, they never expected they would have to mourn a friend’s death after she was viciously murdered. And, as the story unfolds after their meeting, Landry suspects that her beloved friend’s death wasn’t as random as it seems—and that the killer might be masked behind a familiar screen name. These women are her closest confidantes in the world: they understand her; they know everything about her --- and one of them might be a cold-blooded killer.

Early praise for this latest thriller:
      "In a word: terrifying…” RT Book Reviews
      “Solid gold suspense!” Lee Child

Please join me in welcoming Wendy as she graciously answers my questions.

Mason - What was your research process like for this book?

My research process for any book is always hands-on, extensive and ongoing, beginning long before the first word is written and stretching to the very last page. THE PERFECT STRANGER is the second in my trilogy of social networking thrillers that began with THE GOOD SISTER (HarperCollins, October 2013) and will conclude with THE BLACK WIDOW (HarperCollins, March 2015), so naturally I spent a lot of time online, not just learning about internet predators, but lurking on various social media forums, absorbing the rhythms, nuances, shorthand, etc., of how strangers interact with each other. 

This particular book focuses on bloggers who are all breast cancer survivors and was initially inspired by my sister-in-law’s personal experience, so I was able to get a firsthand take on some of it. And because it features a group of characters who are scattered around the country, I visited all the locations in person to make the settings (Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Boston, and L.A., in addition to my own home city New York) as authentic as possible. In addition to the usual forensics, police procedural, criminal psychology, etc., I did extensive research into what I can only refer to as “turtle lore,” for reasons that will become clear to anyone who reads the book.
Mason - Now that THE PERFECT STRANGER has been published, what surprised you the most about this project and its outcome and your Cyber Predator series in general?

All three books in this trilogy are cautionary tales about
Photo Credit: Lisa Nasca
the dangers of sharing too much online. It continues to amaze me that people are so willing to make themselves vulnerable by sharing intimate details and personal information with total strangers in the cyber world that they might think twice about sharing with even a casual acquaintance in person.
Mason - If you could write a book with any author (living or dead), who would it be and what would the book be about?

I’d collaborate with my author pal, the wonderful Laura Lippman, and any other contemporary authors who care to contribute to a collection of essays about our favorite vintage YA novels/series. (Don’t be surprised if this actually comes to fruition someday—Laura and I and some fellow Beany Malone enthusiasts had a field day with this topic on a recent Facebook post on my page.)
Mason - What do you hope readers take away from reading your latest release?

My longtime readers are loyal and clever and appreciate a complex plot filled with unexpected twists, so it’s always a challenge to stay one step ahead of them. I owe them a satisfying read and I work hard to ensure that I meet their expectations. My goal with every release is to ultimately unmask a villain the audience least expected or throw in a curve they never saw coming.

Mason - Do you have any habits/rituals you follow when writing such as a certain place to write, favorite beverage to drink, quiet verses noise, etc.?

These days I travel constantly, and my deadlines are tight, but I’m not one of those writers who can casually open a laptop on a plane and bang out a chapter. While I occasionally have to do just that, I prefer to write in my home office, on my desktop Mac computer. I sip coffee in the morning, wine in the evening, and coconut water in between. We moved to our neighborhood two decades ago because it was quiet and idyllic—the perfect working environment for me--so the chaotic, noisy, constant construction disruption of a house being built next door over the past eight months was infuriating and literally caused me to blow a deadline. Now I’m making up for lost time. As always, when I’m home, I work 12-14 hour days, seven days a week, so that I’m living and breathing my fictional world. I try to save the many non-writing tasks that go with my career for days on the road. (I’m actually answering these interview questions in the midst of a 7-hour Amtrak trip!)

Mason - Are you currently working on any new projects?

Always! I’m currently reviewing the copy edit for THE BLACK WIDOW, the third book in my social networking thriller trilogy—it’s set in the world of online dating and will be published by HarperCollins in March. I’m under contract with them for a new suspense trilogy set in a fictionalized Hudson Valley town, Mundy’s Landing, with a notoriously bloody past that stretches back to the first settlers. I just finished writing the first book, tentatively entitled BLOOD RED, and it will be published sometime next year. Before I begin working on the second, I’m finishing a top-secret project that I hope to share soon!
Wendy, thanks for joining us and sharing this insight into THE PERFECT STRANGER. In listening to the book, I’ve been wondering if you had personal knowledge of someone with breast cancer from the tone of the characters. Now I understand how you captured their essence so well.

Now let me sharing some background on Wendy.

New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy-five published novels and has sold more than four million books worldwide. Under her own name, Wendy achieved New York Times bestselling status with her single title psychological suspense novels. Those novels and the women's fiction she writes under the pseudonym Wendy Markham also frequently appeared on the USA Today, Barnes and Noble Top Ten, and Bookscan bestseller lists. 

Wendy’s latest suspense novels for HarperCollins are linked by a social networking theme and include THE GOOD SISTER (Harper, October 2013), which has been optioned for television by Fox, as well as the upcoming THE PERFECT STRANGER (July 2014) and THE BLACK WIDOW (2014). 

Earlier in 2013, she concluded a bestselling, award-winning trilogy that was launched by HarperCollins in September 2012 with NIGHTWATCHER, which won the 2013 Westchester Library Association Washington Irving Prize for Fiction. It was followed in October by the New York Times bestselling SLEEPWALKER, which went on to become a finalist for the prestigious Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award presented at the Mystery Writers of America Edgars Symposium in April 2013. The trilogy’s final title, SHADOWKILLER, was released in February 2013. 

Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband of twenty years and their two children. A 1986 graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia, she proudly delivered the keynote commencement address at her alma mater in May 2008, was a featured speaker at the 2011 Academic convocation, and is serving a three-year appointment to the Dean's Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences.

For more on Wendy and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Now to tempt you even more to pick up a copy of this tantalizing thriller, is the book trailer for your viewing pleasure. THE PERFECT STRANGER may have you rethinking what you share online.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and visiting with Wendy. Do you think as a society we share too much online with perfect strangers? If so, why do you think we do that?

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Hi Mason and Wendy - the trilogies sound very intriguing and I'm sure we'd learn aspects of the net we've no idea about ... well I would I'm sure ..

    Excellent video book trailer too .. cheers Hilary

  2. Love the premise of both this and the previous title, adding to my wishlist :)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  3. Online dating - perfect scenario for a murder mystery.
    The Perfect Stranger certainly hits close to home. And people wonder why I don't post many personal things. I'd like my private life to remain private.
    Congratulations, Wendy.

  4. I have met blogging friends in person.

    I love the premise of this.

  5. Creepy. When I'm doing my seminars, I don't even like to tell people what county I live in. (Last thing I want is a weirdo showing up on my doorstep.) Telling people online seems like an even dumber idea.

    Congrats on the trilogy, Wendy.

  6. Well, a few years ago, I certainly wouldn't have thought I'd comment where anyone could read it.
    Really enjoyed Wendy's interview and I think the collaboration with Laura L. et al would be great--I have fond memories of many 'vintage' YA series!

  7. Wendy, thanks again for visiting with us. Your thrillers about the cyber aspects of our lives makes you stop and think about what we are sharing and the good and bad benefits of it. Wishing you much success and looking forward to THE BLACK WIDOW.

    Hi, all. Thanks so much for stopping in. I hope to be back later to chat.

  8. Mason - Thanks for hosting Wendy.

    Wendy - Thanks for sharing what went on 'behind the scenes' with your novel. The blogging/online community world is certainly one ripe for exploring. I wish you much success.

  9. What an excellent premise for the book! Love!
    It's really hard to convince kids at school that sharing too much online is a bad thing - but so important!

  10. Thanks for commenting on Alex's A-Z post about me!
    I loved reading Wendy's interview - she's such a superstar! Her cyber-predator series sounds awesome! Have a lovely day. :)

  11. Sounds like a great story, especially as so many of us have online friends through blogging.

  12. Ack, I tried to post a reply but I don't think it went through. I was trying to thank Mason for the opportunity and thank you all for reading and commenting! I've been on a book tour since 7/22 so I'm a little late to this party, but nonetheless wanted to pop in. Thanks!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.