By Matt Ferraz
Kate Moretti’s THE VANISHING YEAR has been called a Dark Places meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—and though her story differs from both, Moretti says she was certainly influenced by the authors.
“This was actually the pitch we made to my editor for my next novel, The Remainders, and my agent liked it so much he put it in the Publisher’s Marketplace listing,” Moretti says. “I adored both of those books and my aim was to infuse the idea of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (a woman trying to extricate herself from a crime while in hiding) and the mood/concept of Dark Places (a woman is famous for a crime in her childhood.) The public comparison makes me horribly nervous, both books are somewhat both iconic in the genre. My agent has a lot of faith in me.”
Clearly so do her fans. In this The Big Thrill interview, Moretti talks about her latest tale of suspense—the thrilling story of a wealthy woman with a mysterious past—and how her work as a scientist fits within her already successful writing career.
Did you ever expect to become a New York Times bestseller?
No. True story. I would not have checked the newspaper. I got a Facebook message from my (now) agent asking me to call him. I thought it was a joke, but I called. He asked if I knew my book had hit the New York Times bestseller list. Of course I hadn’t! He offered representation and I said I’d have to call him back. I called my mom. I called my husband. I waited (days!) for the list to be published and double checked to make sure I was actually on it. Then I called him back and accepted. It was still the craziest week of my life.
Have you already made the big move and quit your day job to become a full time writer? How was it like?
No. I like my job. I work for Johnson & Johnson and I enjoy it. I mostly do technical writing now. I work a lot from home. I’m part time, though. That was a nice reprieve, to actually be able to devote hours on my “days off” to writing and reserve the rest for my family. Before, I was shoving writing in the cracks of my life, early mornings and late nights and talking into a microphone while I commuted, to be transcribed later. It was choppy and inefficient.
Have you ever clashed with an editor on the issue of killing your darlings?
In my first novel, Thought I Knew You, which was largely a work of women’s fiction, with a side of mystery and romance, I had a chunk of the book written from the love interest’s point of view. They told me to take it out, I fought for it. Eventually, I trusted them and just did it. I didn’t agree with it, but I did it. The book is smoother without it. I haven’t read that book since 2012, so maybe it was the right thing to do, I can’t even tell anymore. I don’t read anything I write after it’s published. It’s just too boring—I’ve read it a thousand times before that.
How’s your writing routine?
It’s evolving! The idea of even having a routine is new. I have an office now, a desk I got on Craigslist. I used to write standing at the kitchen counter. I write on Mondays and Fridays. When I’m drafting, I’ll target a weekly word goal. When I’m editing, it’s just about putting in the hours and reading your MS over and over again. Right now, I’m gearing up to start a new book, so my routine involves research. It will take place in Philadelphia, so I’m traveling all over the city via Google maps, gathering addresses. Later, I’ll take the tour in person. I enjoy the cyclical nature of the writing life. The days seem monotonous in whatever phase you’re in, but if you pull back and look at say, a year, the variety is there.
Do you think the pressure of having to surpass your previous book hurts your creative process? Or does it stimulate you more?
I haven’t felt that (yet). Because THE VANISHING YEAR is my first novel with a New York publisher, I was definitely nervous to turn Blackbird Season in. VANISHING is a more typical “thriller.” Woman with a past, in peril, secrets, threats. Blackbird is more of a character driven suspense novel. When I turned it in, I couldn’t write a thing for six weeks. I just blanked, waiting. My editor loved it and I could breathe again, but it was a tense spring. Now, when it comes to sales, I don’t know what the expectation is yet. I’m sure the hope is that I’ll build on the sales from VANISHING. But I realize I have very little control over that. All I can do is write the best book I can and hope that my readers follow me with whatever I’m experimenting with at the time.
Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, Binds That Tie, and While You Were Gone. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. To learn more, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter (@KateMoretti1).