If you’re thinking of reading a new mystery/thriller book without renouncing a romantic suspense plot, then you should check In The Dark, a new release published by Montlake Romance. In our Sunday Brunch feature today, I’m excited to chat with the author and give you a sneak peek into the story.
Thank you for being our host to…
Loreth Anne White is a bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the recipient of the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall. In addition, she’s a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner…
You are very well known for your romantic suspense tales, but your new title, IN THE DARK, is all about mystery — a real whodunit! Tell us a bit about the story.
I like to think there is still a strong echo of my earlier romantic suspense books that ripples through IN THE DARK. Yes, it’s a locked-room mystery/thriller — wilderness style, but the mystery narrative is wrapped inside a romantic suspense-style narrative that follows a budding friendship between Detective Mason Deniaud and Search & Rescue manager Callie Sutton who must not only piece together what happened as they hunt for survivors, but also must race against time to save who might be left. The story leaves off with a promise of more ahead in the relationship between Callie and Mason, so my roots are still showing, I hope.
Your story definitely has shades of Agatha Christie as well as a nod or two to Stephen King. Did these authors act as inspirations for this book?
In The Dark is not only a homage to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, but Christie’s story becomes a plot device, a psychological tool that the villain uses to instill fear in the victims trapped in the lodge because the victims know what transpired in the book, and they anticipate the same will happen to them.
And yes, a teensy nod to master of atmosphere and horror, Stephen King’s THE SHINING where characters are trapped in a remote and snowbound hotel and become mercy to the psychological horror that descends on them.
A rural, isolated lodge is always a great place to start a suspenseful novel. How exactly did your characters all come to be at Forest Shadow Lodge?
The characters are invited for an all-expenses stay at the brand new, high-end, fly-in wilderness lodge and spa. They are lured by an offer to enjoy a ‘soft opening’, so to speak, where they can assess the accommodation and potentially negotiate lucrative contracts with the new lodge owners. Each guest runs a business that would be suitable for such an establishment. Each is excited by a possible lucrative contract. But not all is quite what meets the eye, of course.
Your story is told from multiple points-of-view as you take deep dives into the characters’ lives and histories. Does everyone have something to hide?
Don’t we all have something to hide? My characters in this book certainly do. Some of their secrets are more powerful than others.
Mason and Callie are two of the law enforcement responders that are trying to piece together exactly what happened at The Lodge. Tell us more about these characters and what makes them so good at what they do.
Mason Deniaud was a top homicide detective before relocating to the remote north for personal reasons. He lost a young son and a wife and he’s searching for a way to live, or exist, if not heal. Callie Sutton is a young mother who is single, but also isn’t because her husband lies in hospital and is brain dead. Her husband is there, but he also isn’t there for Callie and her young son. Like Mason, she’s in limbo, a place where she can’t move forward, or back. It’s through this they find a bond. And the search for the missing lodge party pushes them together.
In The Dark is a pivotal novel in your career. What does it have in common with your previous writing and how is it different? How does this inform your next steps as a writer?
Pivotal sounds cool. I’ll take it! Thank you. But yes IN THE DARK is a bit of a departure from my previous romantic suspense books. If readers enjoy it, however, and if my publisher remains happy, I’d like to keep growing in this direction. But I do think my crime stories will always revolve around strong women, or women who might be victims to start with, but who find agency and take back their lives and become strong and survive through the arc of a story. (As with my forthcoming work IN THE DEEP). I do love to include a relationship element in my crime novels, but bonding with a potential love interest comes out of the personal growth of the protagonist. I like to tell—and read—stories of women who find ways to rescue themselves.