Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Riley Sager recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing FINAL GIRLS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
While FINAL GIRLS is a riff on the much-loved horror movie trope of the last girl standing, I want readers to get a glimpse into the lives of these girls long after the horror they’ve endured has passed. Trauma clings to people in different ways. Being a survivor has scars, both literal and figurative. Also, I hope it scares the bejabbers out of them!
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I’m the first person to admit that there are too many books with “Girl” in the title. It seems that the publishing industry has reached peak girlishness. Yet girls can be deceiving. They’re strong and fierce and so much more complicated than that one little word implies. Market saturation or not, I’m so proud of my “Girl” book, and hope it carries on the legacy of similarly titled books that have come before it.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
I owe a debt to all those famous “Girls”—the one with the dragon tattoo, the one on the train, the one who was suddenly gone. They showed me that books anchored by strong, complicated, not-entirely-innocent women can make people think, shudder, and gasp. And I’d be remiss not to mention Stephen King, whose work has stayed with me for three decades now.
Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. In addition to writing, Riley enjoys reading, movies and baking.
To learn more, please visit Riley’s website.
Interested in becoming a member of the International Thriller Writers? ITW offers Active and Associate memberships.
Latest posts by ITW (see all)
- October 16 – 22: “Is it a good idea to set thrillers in the Fall?” - October 15, 2017
- October 9 – 15: “What’s the one fiction writing guidebook that every writer should have?” - October 8, 2017
- October 2 – 8: “Are some careers more suitable for characters in thrillers than others?” - October 1, 2017