When Lily Jeong—smothered by her parents and ignored by classmates—unwittingly aids her boyfriend in a school shooting, she struggles to hide her complicity from investigators. Forced to face the devastated survivors, she hides in plain sight as their grief turns to vengeance.
Lee Anne Post co-author Ginny Fite recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest collaboration, THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
You can find hope after a horrific tragedy.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. We all have to be heroes in our own way.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Four of us co-wrote this book. The easy part was finding the plot, devising the scenes, identifying the characters and their arcs, and actually writing. The hard part was editing to achieve one overarching tone and meta-voice in a narrative told by eight voices.
The biggest opportunity was to learn how to go from being soloists to members of a chamber orchestra—to blend our understanding, writing styles, language use, and approach to character and storytelling into one harmonious melody.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
The gun show loophole. It astonished us and our publisher that it is legal for unlicensed individuals to sell guns to unlicensed buyers without any limitations or record keeping in 33 states in the US.
On the writing side, we discovered that unexpected humor even in tragic, tense situations leavens the narrative and can make a character endearing.
Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?
Although we didn’t set out to upend any genre conventions, magical realism crept into the story as naturally as a cat curling up in your lap. We didn’t even question it.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Our schools are under siege. Every day our children need to worry about whether their sisters and friends will be shot along with remembering to bring their dirty gym clothes home to be washed. Teachers and administrators and their families don’t know if they’ll come home after work. It takes enormous courage to keep going back into the building day after day. This sense of their terror and bravery is in every word we wrote.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Dan Brown, Lisa Gardner, Paula Hawkins, PD James, in literary fiction Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates, and (scifi) Ursula Le Guin. The answer to why is simple: plot, character, pacing, setting, tone, style, rhythm, language, description, passion, intention.
Lee Anne Post is the pen name for co-authors Ginny Fite, Catherine Baldau, Tara Bell, and K.P. Robbins. Stories by these award-winning authors have appeared in numerous journals, and individually they have published nine novels. They have worked as reporters and editors, in politics and philanthropy, and in advertising and educational institutions. Having met in a writer’s critique group for over five years, they were spurred to write this novel by their collective grief and then admiration as they watched Parkland students deal with the aftermath of that shooting.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.