Josie Ashbury was a successful Hollywood actress with a booming career—until an on-set breakdown sends her back to her small Ohio hometown to recover. Taking a job teaching at her old high school, Josie is beginning to put the pieces of her life back together when one of her students dies under suspicious circumstances. The police close the case quickly, without any real answers. Josie is determined to find the truth behind the girl’s death.
At the same time, Josie is battling demons of her own. As she faces debilitating insomnia that leaves her with gaps in her memory, she dives into the tangled secrets surrounding the investigation. When she finally unravels the web, she discovers that the truth lies much closer to home than she could have ever imagined.
TheBigThrill had a chance to catch up with Amy Young for a quick chat about her debut thriller, THE WATER TOWER:
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
The idea for this book came kind of out of the blue, as far as the mystery element is concerned. However, the narrator, Josie, came from my experiences in Hollywood. I hadn’t planned on having her as a narrator; initially, the book was going to center solely around the teenage girls. But as I began writing, the idea evolved (as they usually do!).
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
When I created my protagonist for this book, I didn’t so much see an empty space as I wanted to combine elements of several characters that I’ve always loved. I also think there’s a little bit of myself in there, but she is definitely not based on me. When I pieced everything together, she just worked.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I decided early on that if I was going to write a book, I was going to see it through to the end. I’ve heard stories about writers writing a novel, then putting it in the back of the closet and never having it see the light of day because they decided they didn’t want to publish it. For me, I couldn’t justify spending so much time and energy on one project just to have it sit and collect dust. So this book went through several iterations and changed quite a bit from beginning to end, but I was absolutely determined to finish it.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
The whole time I was writing, I listened to Gustavo Sataolalla’s music. There is something strange and haunting about much of his music, and it helped me stay in the mindset of a mystery. His songs have been used on shows like “Making a Murderer” and “The Last of Us,” so I know I’m not the only one who feels it!
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
In addition to a great read, I hope readers will take away that your friends can be part of your family (or your entire family, in some cases). The female friendships in this book are central to its theme, and I hope everyone walks away seeing a little bit of their relationships in those friendships.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
My next book is a thriller that takes place in the late ’90s with a group of high school friends and ends in the late 2010s with the women dealing with the fallout of a decision that changed the course of their lives. I’m on my third editing pass currently, so hopefully it will be ready for beta readers soon!
Amy Young is an author, comedian, and actor based in Cleveland. After spending a decade in Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry and writing her debut novel, THE WATER TOWER, she returned to Ohio to be closer to family. Amy is working on her second book, a thriller, and in her free time she enjoys going to the theatre, bingeing reality TV, and spending time with her husband and many, many cats. She has a B.A. in English from Kenyon College.
To learn more about the author, please visit her website.