For readers, like me, who normally don’t read it – can you describe what “domestic suspense” means? In my mind, I picture poster for the film Serial Mom, with Kathleen Turner in a 1950s outfit, holding a pie in one hand, and a knife poised to stab somebody in the other.
When I think of “domestic suspense,” I think of a genre of thrillers that are set in a neighborhood and focus on the relationships between family members or neighbors. I think of taut pacing and lots of secrets. Pies and knives most certainly could feature in these stories!
From THE FAVOR’s description, it sounds like there is an element of psychological suspense in your novel. Is that right? And what makes that possibly more interesting to write about than more obvious murder and mayhem?
I think that’s right, and I think the hidden, simmering nature of psychological suspense makes it interesting to me. In particular, THE FAVOR tells the story of two women trapped in abusive marriages to men who are highly successful and credible. The nature of the abuse they suffer is, at times, coercive control, which can be more hidden, secretive, and difficult to prove. The experiences of these two protagonists lend themselves to the creation of suspense of a more psychological nature, as opposed to high-octane action.
I always find books and films about characters leading parallel lives. The book description describes Leah and McKenna, in your new book THE FAVOR, as leading parallel lives. What intrigues you about this idea?
For Leah and McKenna, it’s not just that their lives are parallel, but that they’re secret. I find this doubly interesting–that they are living seemingly perfect existences in seemingly pleasant neighborhoods nearby to each other, while their realities are quite different. It’s a chance meeting that brings them together, a feeling Leah gets when she sees McKenna which causes Leah to follow her, and Leah learns that this woman who has been living perhaps a mile away from her all this time has so much in common with her. This is an intriguing concept for me—that they felt alone in their experiences and suffering, but they weren’t.
A few authors I’ve interviewed in the past have said that what they enjoy writing is not the same type of thing they enjoy reading? Is that true for you? What types of books do you enjoy reading? Favorite books or authors?
For me, that is not the case! I almost exclusively read crime fiction, domestic suspense, thrillers. Patricia Highsmith is my all-time favorite author, and in fact The Favor was inspired by Strangers on a Train. I also love Laura Lippman. Her books are riveting, and I love the way she writes. She’s also a fellow Marylander, so I enjoy the settings of her books and recognizing localities and landmarks. Other favorites and auto-buy authors for me are Alafair Burke, Shari Lapena, and Gilly Macmillan.
Your biography I saw on Amazon says that you’re a practicing attorney. Does that job ever influence your stories? Do you plan on writing legal thrillers? Or is your writing a fun escape from everything you normally encounter in your “day job”? I ask because I once interviewed an author whose work was scientific and very technical, and because of that, she preferred writing lush romances with a historical setting.
For several years I practiced family law, focusing on divorce and custody matters, and I think that my experiences at work were often thought-provoking for my fiction. When I was in law school, I participated in two clinics through which I studied the issues facing and worked with survivors of intimate partner violence. I also wrote a paper about “professional abusers,” meaning perpetrators who have specialized training and education which may influence the manner in which they perpetrate intimate partner violence. My research surrounding this paper was highly influential for The Favor. Now, my practice focuses on franchise law, which I find interesting, but it’s completely different from the sort of books I like to write. I think it’s also nice to have this separation—writing is truly an escape, in this way. I don’t have specific plans to write a legal thriller, but I am hoping to write for many, many years, so it’s certainly not out of the question!
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on revisions for my second book, drafting my third book, keeping up with my day job and my highly active toddler, and growing a baby—my second son is due in early July. My second and third books are in the same genre and vein of The Favor, novels of suspense that focus on issues women face today. It’s sure to be a busy and eventful summer, but I’m hoping to find some time for a little reading of my own.
How can readers find out more about your books?
Readers can connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, or Goodreads. I can also be reached through my website. I absolutely love hearing from readers–it’s been my favorite part of this publication journey.
Leah and McKenna have never met, though they have parallel lives.
They don’t—ever—find themselves in the same train carriage or meet accidentally at the gym or the coffee shop.
They don’t—ever—discuss their problems and find common ground.
They don’t—ever—acknowledge to each other that although their lives have all the trappings of success, wealth and happiness, they are, in fact, trapped.
Because Leah understands that what’s inside a home can be more dangerous than what’s outside. Driving past McKenna’s house one night, she sees what she knows only too well from her own marriage: McKenna’s “perfect” husband is not what he seems. Leah decides to keep watch over McKenna, until one night, she intervenes, and sets into motion events that will change both their lives forever.
Leah and McKenna have never met. But they will.
Thriller Domestic [Minotaur Books, On Sale: May 31, 2022, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250822420 / eISBN: 9781250822437]
Nora Murphy attended law school in Washington, D.C., then worked as a judicial law clerk before transitioning to private practice. During law school, she participated in two clinics through which she represented and studied the issues facing survivors of intimate partner violence. A practicing attorney, Nora writes as much as she can, usually long before the sunrise or on her phone for brief moments when the inspiration strikes. Nora resides in Maryland with her husband, young son, and five rescue pets.
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