Cheyenne Ashby knows the dark and disturbing history of her hometown of Blue Cliff, Virginia, all too well. It’s why she left. Growing up deep within the woods with her eccentric mother, Constance, she was raised on the unusual customs and generational superstitions linked to the local legend of an evil entity that haunts the forest.
Five years ago, the bodies of three children were found in the woods. It was a man—not a mythical beast—named Jasper Clinton who was convicted of these heinous crimes. For five years the town breathed just a bit easier with a real-life monster behind bars.
But when another child goes missing, Cheyenne and Natalie are determined to discover the truth and uncover the town’s dangerous secrets rooted in its terrifying past.
The two women must confront the reality of the superstitions they always believed in and their town’s complicated connection with who—or what—lives in the woods.
Katherine Greene recently spent some time with TheBigThrill to discuss her debut thriller, THE WOODS ARE WAITING:
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
This book is very much based on the deep woods and small Appalachian town I grew up in. This idea has been percolating in my head for years. I’ve written snippets here and there and eventually it came together as a fully formed plot. I wanted to write a story about a fictional horror in a place that feels very real.
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?
Cheyenne Ashby and Natalie Bartlett are childhood best friends. The story is told in dual points of view—one girl moved away from her hometown, the other stayed behind, and how those decisions impacted each in different ways. I feel that strong female voices are needed in the thriller genre and Cheyenne and Natalie provide that. These are two women with similar upbringings in this strange and macabre place that seek to change things. They are inspired by all women who kick a little butt.
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?
When you write a book there comes a moment when things just click. That happened with THE WOODS ARE WAITING. I knew this idea was special and that there was an audience for it. I was relentless in my pursuit of a publisher who would share my vision of this book. But I knew these characters’ voices needed to be heard.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
This felt like a combination of The Wicker Man and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. It has elements of small town horror/thriller that can be found in a number of movies and books.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
This is a story that makes you think. That makes you question things you’ve always been told. It’s a story that shows there are always the things you know, and the the things you have to figure out for yourself. And how even the safest places have hidden dangers.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I am currently working on another thriller that tells the story of two sisters in two timelines that are bound together by an unsolved crime. It utilizes social media to tell a twisted story of betrayal and violence in a world that has systematically become desensitized to a victim’s trauma.
Katherine Greene cut her teeth on spine tingling thrillers and true crime. Her love of dark, twisted tales with a strong female voice led her to create stories that leave you guessing. She currently lives in the United Kingdom with her family. THE WOODS ARE WAITING is her debut thriller.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.