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Monica Murphy is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of One Week Girlfriend, Second Chance Boyfriend, Three Broken Promises, Four Years Later, Owning Violet, Stealing Rose, Taming Lily, Never Tear Us Apart, and the eBook novella Drew + Fable Forever. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills of Yosemite with her husband and three children.
The Fowler Sisters
One Week Girlfriend Quartet
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE: As you write in your Author’s Note, Never Tear Us Apart tackles difficult subject matter – the abduction and rape of a young girl, and her rescue at the hands of none other than her abuser’s son. Your narration alternates between Katherine and her rescuer, switching from the past to the present with each chapter. You don’t hold back when it comes to the painful or the ugly, and readers are given a tough look into a terrifying but all too real world. What was it like for you to occupy that head space, and how was this experience different from writing your previous romance novels?
MONICA MURPHY: I didn’t want to sensationalize what happened to Katherine. It’s an all too awful reality that so many children every single day must go through. That’s so heartbreaking to me. So I tried my best to handle the scenes between Katie and her abductor with sensitivity so as not to horrify the reader. Yet … I wanted them to feel something while reading the story. Which means I needed it to be a little horrifying. Just not over the top, “this is disgusting” horrifying.
Now that I think about it, I’m surprised I haven’t tried to write a book like this before. I’ve always been fascinated with true crime stories, specifically murderers and serial killers. I always thought I was sort of demented but when an entire channel is devoted to this sort of thing (Discovery ID) then I know I’m not alone in my fascination. My head can be sort of a dark place and while it wasn’t always pleasant to write parts of Never Tear Us Apart, I will say I enjoyed the challenge and felt that the story truly stretched my writer’s wings. It was a different experience because the book wasn’t all hearts and flowers and romance and sex (which hey, I love writing those types of books too!). I had to handle everything very delicately. It had to unfold slowly, the relationship between Ethan and Katherine. Otherwise, it didn’t feel real to me.
PRH: The abduction at the center of Never Tear Us Apart calls to mind the recently explosive abduction stories we’ve been seeing in film, on TV, and in podcasts lately. What do you think draws people to these stories? What drew you to them?
MM: I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly drew me to true crime in the first place, but I’ve always been fascinated with it. The first book I ever discovered was Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, about Ted Bundy, the prolific serial killer who started out in the Pacific Northwest back in the late sixties/early seventies. Ann Rule actually knew Ted Bundy. They worked together at a Rape Crisis Call Center – oh the irony! But what a story. I think deep down we’re all fascinated with what pushes a person to murder someone. I’m always curious as to what makes them tick, what sort of background did they have. I loved Serial’s first season and I think there is so much more to that story than we’ll ever know. I’m gearing up to watch “Making a Murderer” this week (I was on deadline and have been dying to watch!) and in that case, as with Serial’s first season, it’s very much of a “did he really do it?” type of story. I’m just a curious person in general so this sort of thing is right up my alley.
I will say that the women who’ve been abducted and lived to tell about it are who inspired Katherine’s character. Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and Michelle Knight – what strong women they are, to have survived something so awful.
PRH:Never Tear Us Apart ends with a pretty big cliffhanger. Can you tell us anything about what you have planned for Katherine and Ethan in the next installment of The Never Series?
MM: Ah, the dreaded cliffhanger! Truly I believed that Ethan and Katherine needed two full books to tell their entire story. To me it’s very much a before-and-after type of arc with the characters. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say this – there’s not as much back and forth in Never Let You Go (coming May 3). We stay in the present for the most part with a few flashback moments. Ethan and Katie are now struggling to get to know each other, the struggle to have a normal life, the internal struggle in realizing that their life together is nowhere near normal. But danger still lurks. In a few different forms….
And that’s all I can say about that.
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