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Twelve years ago, Lei Zhang and her friend Emma Nilsson miraculously lived through the notorious Sorority Row Murders that left twenty-one of their sisters dead. Still wrestling with the trauma but finally out of the limelight, Lei and Emma are now devoted to helping other victims find closure. But most disturbing for Lei—beyond the gut-wrenching survivor guilt—is that the killer was her boyfriend. He’s behind bars, but she’ll never lower her guard again.

When a copycat killer targets Lei and Emma, FBI Agent Dante Young is put in charge of anticipating the sociopath’s every move. But what he doesn’t expect is his immediate and overpowering attraction to Lei.

Bestselling author Katee Robert spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, THE SURVIVING GIRLS:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

That survivors don’t always look or act the same, and that’s okay. They’re still survivors and putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward is victory all of its own.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

It features a really nuanced and legitimately caring female friendship between the heroine and her best friend (both survivors of the same massacre). They both dealt with the trauma in almost opposite ways, but their genuine bond of caring for each other is featured heavily in the book.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

I did a significant amount of research into cadaver dogs while writing this book (the heroine trains them and contracts out with police departments for body recovery) and it was truly fascinating learning about everything that goes into a search for bodies.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

The story is as much about the relationship between Lei and Emma as it is between Lei and Dante. Lei is one of those people who throws herself headfirst into a situation when she’s scared, because standing still is defeat. Emma is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the house they share together in nearly a decade, and she has no desire to change that about herself–fear makes her sharp, and she embraces it to some extent.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Lisa Gardner is one of the greats for me for many reasons, but the main one is that her plots surprise me nearly every book. She takes me right up to the edge of what I’m okay with as a reader, and it’s often an uncomfortable experience, but I love it all the same.

The Black Jewels trilogy has influenced me in a big way. Anne Bishop created this world that’s beautiful and more than a little horrible on the dark side of things, and she never shied away from that darkness and the fact that bad things can very much happen to good people.


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it “a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension.” When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

To learn more about Katee and her work, please visit her website.

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