Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy’s shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she’s chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy’s death and everyone’s grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy’s life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister’s life.
Welcome Trisha, it’s good to talk to you again.
Brian: Just reading the synopsis, it strikes me that this is a story that my youngest daughter (and interview partner) Ellie, would go wild for. Do you run your story ideas by your own children before you write them?
I do not. In fact, I rarely discuss my books with anyone, with the exception of my agent and editor, until they are complete. I am a bit superstitious that way. I do have a group of teen readers that I hand my finished drafts off to before I send them in, but no…my kids pretty much know very little about my books until they are done and shipped off.
Ellie: As the daughter of an author, I know how exhausting it gets working a day job and writing all night. Do you depend on your writing for income, or do you also have a day job? If so, what do you do? How do you make time for your family?
I do not have a day job, but I wouldn’t exactly say my writing covers my living expenses. My husband works full time and luckily between his income and my writing income, we can cobble together a comfortable existence.
As for how I make time for my family, balance is something I am constantly striving for. There are some weeks, particularly those where copy and/or line edits are due, that I see less of my family then I would like. And trust me, they eat their fair share of take-out those nights. But my weekends are mine; Saturday and Sunday are reserved for my family.
Brian: THE SECRETS WE KEEP is your second published work, and I see at least two more on the way this year. You’ve been very prolific. Do you think you’ll be able to keep up your current output in years to come?
Gosh, I would like to think so, but who knows. I will continue to write and hopefully the editors will continue to like my voice. Fingers and toes crossed!
Ellie: What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing THE SECRETS WE KEEP?
The biggest challenge didn’t occur while writing, but rather while revising. There was a thread that my editor and I decided to remove during the first round of revisions. It overshadowed the main theme of the book and detracted from the complicated bond I was trying to create between the sisters. Problem was, that thread was quite invasive, cropping up in all sorts of places. It took me upward of a month to recast some of the scenes, but in the end, the book was stronger for it.
Brian: I find identical twins fascinating, especially the idea that two people can be born the same in every way, raised the same, yet turn out so differently. It’s a reality that foils the idea of genetic determinism. Was it a similar fascination that prompted you to write this story?
Yes and no. My fascination revolved around the complicated bonds between sisters, but not necessarily twins. I have a sister; she was my best friend and my fiercest competitor growing up. It was that relationship and the misconceptions we held back then around who was the favored child, who the smartest, who was the prettiest that fuelled my story.
Ellie: If you had to choose one quote from your book, what would be your favorite?
“She’s not who I thought she was, but that doesn’t matter. Maddy is my sister, my twin sister, and I’ll do anything for her, including losing myself.”
Brian: People are always surprised by how little they actually know the people who they are closest to. I expect there are several moments of revelation for Ella.
This is a hard question to answer without giving away spoilers. But yes, Ella has a misconception about how “pretty” her sister’s life is, when in reality, it’s nothing more than a house of cards, one that Ella now has to figure out how to navigate.
Ellie: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Seventh-grade English class. Sister Yvonne caught me daydreaming for the umpteenth time and tossed down an ultimatum: I could either take detention for not paying attention in class, or I could write down whatever had me so captivated. I took option number two and have been writing ever since.
Brian: Who are a few of your favourite writers?
In no specific order: Daphne du Maurier, Cormac McCarthy, Philippa Gregory, and Patrick Ness.
Ellie: We’ve recently done an interview with you and Lindsay Currie. Are you planning a long-lasting partnership with her?
We have two more co-authored works on the horizon. Sweet Madness (a re-imagining of the infamous Borden Murder’s told from the point of view of Lizzie Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan), and Hardwired (a YA Sci-fi about genetic testing and the warrior gene). They are scheduled for September and November.
Ellie: Can we expect a sequel to THE SECRETS WE KEEP?
You never know…but generally speaking, I write stand-alones.
Thanks again for visiting with us, Trisha. Best of luck with THE SECRETS WE KEEP.
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She is a member of the SCBWI, the Horror Writers Association, The International Thriller Writers, and the YA Scream Queens—a group of nine female authors who are deathly serious about their horror.
To learn more about Trisha, please visit her website.