As a reader, I love that edge-of-your-seat feeling, that sense that you can’t quite turn the pages fast enough because you have to know what’s going to happen. As a writer, it’s more of a mathematical equation for me (though I never liked math), or maybe a science experiment. I love creating this intricate problem that must be solved. There’s nothing more satisfying for me than when the pieces come together in my head and I can get them down on paper, and then I get to go back in and throw in all those twists and turns that will hopefully keep my reader on the edge of his or her seat.
When I began writing The Good Girl, it was a very conscious decision. There wasn’t an event or events that inspired me, nor does the novel draw on any dark element of my own childhood. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. People often seem perplexed that a novel as dark as The Good Girl would come from me – someone with a happy childhood, a rather uneventful existence – and yet this was half the fun of it: exploring a reality which was far from mine.
There are specific times I remember waking in the middle of the night, utterly concerned for Mia’s wellbeing, or grieving with Eve for her missing child.
I had the idea to write a novel about a kidnapping that was not exactly what it seemed. Where it came from, I can’t say for certain; I suppose I’m just someone with an active imagination as often goes hand in hand with a writing career. The first time I sat down at the computer to begin The Good Girl (without notes or an outline, just myself and the computer and a few moments of peace and quiet while my daughter napped) this was all I had. I very quickly decided to write the novel from the viewpoint of various narrators, as well as in a nonlinear structure to enhance the mystery – or mysteries – that surround the abduction of Mia.
I’ve often struggled to define the source of inspiration for The Good Girl, for I feel there should be some key event that triggered this novel, and yet for as hard as I’ve tried, I can pinpoint none. The novel is set partially in my hometown, and as an avid reader of suspense novels, it was certainly my genre, but neither of these could be credited as a source of inspiration.
It took me a while to realize that the inspiration didn’t come to me before I began writing or there at page one of the novel, but much later on, when I found myself so absorbed in the characters – mainly Mia and Colin – that I found myself thinking about them at all hours of the day and night, and I often found them visiting me in my dreams. There are specific times I remember waking in the middle of the night, utterly concerned for Mia’s wellbeing, or grieving with Eve for her missing child. I woke from sleep, on more than one occasion, with a scene – as clear as day – playing in my mind.
When I was most engrossed in writing the novel, I felt connected to the characters in The Good Girl like I hadn’t been with any characters I’d written up to that time or any characters I’ve written since. I knew them intimately, what they would do and what they would say, and it’s clear to me now that all along it was my characters who were my muse, my source of inspiration. Someone once suggested to me that it was Mia and Colin, Eve and Gabe who told their story to me rather than the other way around, and I firmly believe this is true.
To the characters in all future novels of mine, take note: you have a lot to live up to.
Check out the trailer for The Good Girl by Mary Kubica here: