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What if you came home to find a stranger living in your house?

Kimber Hannon imagines she has complete control over her life, until she comes home to find that her house key no longer opens her front door. A man is living in her house. A stranger, who presents a lease bearing Kimber’s own signature. When she confronts him, he gets close enough to whisper, “I was there. I saw what you did.”

This trespasser knows her, and isn’t after anything as simple as her money or artwork or charming Craftsman bungalow. He wants to come into her carefully orchestrated life–and destroy it.

Multiple award-nominee Laura Benedict spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, THE STRANGER INSIDE. Here’s what she had to say:

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

The majority of my novels are thrillers–many with supernatural elements. This time around I wanted to write a straight suspense thriller. I love a good story, and exciting crime stories are my favorites–whether I’m reading or writing them.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

My biggest challenge and biggest opportunity are exactly the same: to set a story in St. Louis, a city that I love. I lived in St. Louis for many years, but it was over twenty years ago. Now I live within a couple of hours, so I get there a couple times a month. I love being able to showcase one of my favorite places, but it was a challenge to set the book there, combining my memories of my life there and present-day St. Louis.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

For THE STRANGER INSIDE, the plot definitely came first. I’ve long been fascinated by stories of people who have lost their homes–at least temporarily–to squatters who showed up while they were on vacation or their empty house was on the market. This fascination tied in perfectly with my own frequent dreams of my own house being invaded by strangers. A home is sacred, and suddenly being denied entry to it would be a severe shock for anyone.


Laura Benedict is the Edgar- and ITW Thriller Award- nominated author of eight novels of mystery and suspense, including The Stranger Inside (February 2019). Her Bliss House gothic trilogy includes The Abandoned Heart, Charlotte’s Story (Booklist starred review), and Bliss House. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and in numerous anthologies.

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