Tara Green, from Eye On Romance, was delighted to be able to ask Diane Chamberlain some questions about her latest release, SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND.
Amazing! It’s hard for me to believe that I’m celebrating my twentieth year as a published author.
- SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND is a sequel to your book BEFORE THE STORM. Can this be read as a standalone book or would you recommend readers read the first book first?
I wrote SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND to stand on its own, so it’s not necessary to read BEFOE THE STORM first. However, I’m confident that people who’ve already read BEFORE THE STORM will be fascinated to learn what happens to those characters next.
- Please describe briefly what SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND is about.
SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND is the story of a seventeen-year-old boy, Keith, who was badly burned in a fire. Angry at the world, he pushes away everyone who tries to help him except his mother, Sara, on whom he's emotionally and physically dependent. One day, Sara says she's going to the store and never returns. So, it's the story of Keith's struggle to find his mother, but it's Sara's story as well, since she's left behind a memoir full of secrets. Ultimately, as with most of my books, it's a story about family love.
- SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND is set on Topsail Island. Can you describe this locale for us and how it is important to the story?
Topsail Island is a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina. Twenty-six miles long, it has only one stoplight and three villages, each of which is very different from one another. Like most of the North Carolina barrier islands, Topsail is a blend of beautiful beaches, cozy little beach cottages and a bit too much new development. Doing the research for these two novels, I fell totally in love with Topsail and its warm and welcoming residents.
- Please tell our readers what they can expect when reading SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND that may surprise them.
Secrets, of course! Seriously, there are many twists and turns in the story, but one of the biggest surprises might be that this book, as well as BEFORE THE STORM, will appeal both to mature teens as well as to adults. I’ve heard from several high school teachers who are recommending these two books to their students.
- Each chapter is from a different person's point of view. Was this a difficult technique to pull off when writing it?
The most difficult part of writing from four different points of view is to make sure each character has his or her own voice. My hope is that a reader can open the book to any page and know within a few sentences which character she’s reading about. Once I finish a draft of a book, I go back and rewrite each character’s chapters one after another, so that I have that character’s voice firmly in my head as I write.
- Can you describe briefly the characters Keith Weston and Maggie Lockwood? How are they alike? How are they different?
Keith and Maggie have only recently learned that they have the same father, so they’re both dealing with the realization that the adults in their lives have lied to them. In Keith’s case, that revelation also shakes up his sense of identity. But more than that, they are both deeply wounded people who feel cut off from others by the events that happen before the book begins. They also hate each other and it takes them a long time to realize that they actually need each other.
- Please describe the other key characters in the story if you can, briefly.
The two other significant characters are Keith’s mom, Sara, who disappears but leaves behind her secrets, and Andy, Maggie’s brother who is one of my all-time favorite characters. Andy is a special needs teenager whose simplistic view of life makes him endearing and who ultimately holds one of the keys to the mystery in the story.
- SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND would be a wonderful book club selection. Is there a discussion guide available?
Thank you for the compliment! Yes, there is a discussion guide available on my website. In addition, there is a form that Bookclubs can fill out to request that I call them during their discussion of one of my books.
- While researching for this interview I read review after review raving about SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND. Why do you think this book touches readers as it so clearly does?
I’ve read these reviews as well, and I’m so honored by them. People seem to love the mixture of suspense, mystery and drama in SECRETS, as well as the very human nature of my characters.
- What book are you working on next? Can you share anything with us?
I’m excited about my current work-in-progress, THE LIES WE TOLD. Again set on the North Carolina coast after a massive hurricane, it’s the story of two sisters who are doctors and who must come to grips with a tragedy from their past before they can move into a happy and fulfilling future.
- Please tell us 3 places you would like to go on a vacation
The North Carolina coast (surprise!), Tuscany, and Sicily, where I would like to visit the town where my grandparents were born.
- Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful
- Describe your outlook on life in 5 words or less.
Pain’s a given. Suffering’s optional.
Thanks Diane, for a wonderful and insightful interview!