By George Ebey
This summer, Catharine Riggs brings us WHAT SHE NEVER SAID, the second novel in her Santa Barbara suspense series.
People are dying at a luxury retirement community—and not from natural causes. Welcome to Serenity Acres, where the super-rich go to die. This elite Santa Barbara enclave may appear bright and immaculate, but behind the iron gates, and beneath the manicured landscapes, lie dark secrets buried by golden shovels. The uber-wealthy can afford designer clothes, expensive cars, and an extravagant retirement, but even the richest among them can’t keep their secrets buried.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Riggs to learn more about this new domestic thriller.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I like writing characters who are at a crossroads in their lives. Characters who have spent years hiding their personas behind a cloak of invincibility only to find themselves vulnerable. Characters who are facing a crisis and are forced to question their life choices. The psychological suspense genre allows me to apply an outside threat in order to expose a hidden wrong or uncover a buried secret and see how my characters react. It’s like shoving a stick into an ant hole; which way will the vermin run?
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I find myself constantly surprised by my works in progress. I start with a few key characters, but just like any group of new acquaintances, it takes me time to get to know and understand their motivations and quirks. Then I must decide if I want to spend a solid year in their company. In WHAT SHE NEVER SAID, I had planned to structure the novel around two female point-of-view protagonists as I had done in the series’ debut. But as the novel progressed, one of my POV characters refused to develop and a minor player, Zach Richards, raised his shaky hand. It didn’t take me long to fall for my down-on-his-luck, former private detective.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Plot ideas come to me during every waking hour of every single day. I’m that problematic friend who sees danger lurking around every corner. Where an optimist sees a kindly Uber driver, I see a kidnapper at the wheel. Want to plug in that space heater? A fire could consume your home. Considering a vacation rental? I’ll give you a list of what can go wrong. Dating sites? They’re deathtraps. Airplanes? Where should I start? In the case of WHAT SHE NEVER SAID, the spark of an idea came to me during my mother-in-law’s short hospice stay. I finished the first draft a year later when my father-in-law passed away. I’ve dedicated the novel to this wonderful and supportive couple.
Catharine Riggs lives and writes on California’s central coast. Before her dive into thrillers, Riggs worked as a business banker, adjunct college instructor, and a nonprofit executive. Thomas & Mercer published her debut novel, What She Gave Away, in September of 2018. The loosely linked sequel, WHAT SHE NEVER SAID, launches in September of 2019.
Get caught up on the progress of her Santa Barbara Suspense series by visiting Catharine on her website.