Georgina Cross is the author of Nanny Needed and the bestselling author of The Stepdaughter and The Missing Woman.
When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life. But the new family she’s working for are strange. And soon it becomes clear that their odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.
But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.
Deliciously creepy and absolutely riveting, Nanny Needed is a gripping thriller about what happens when one woman’s dream job turns into her waking nightmare…. Read full review
Author’s Corner – Interview with Georgina Cross
Thanks so much for being on Author’s Corner! Can you tell us one funny, quirky thing about you, something most people might not know? An interesting hobby or funny habit, something so readers can get to know the person behind the author.
I don’t enjoy cooking, can’t sew, have never baked a cake (am pretty much helpless on the domestic front) but I do love to clean. I gain a huge satisfaction in having a spotless counter and floors and have no problem helping others clean too. But on the cooking front, no dice. Maybe one day I’ll bake a cake…
In college, I played rugby (left wing) which surprises most people that I belonged to a rec club team along with fifty female students. I broke my arm during a tournament in Houston, Texas, and had to wear a cast past my elbow. Back at Louisiana State University, I was also taking dance classes several times a week so it was interesting having to explain to our dance teacher why I would have dirt on my elbows and knees from time to time, and then having to skip several months of classes when I broke my arm. But I loved the duality of my activities: one that was joyous in both movement and grace, while the other was intense and competitive. I think that duality says a lot about me.
As a thriller author, what scares you? Do you ever find yourself scared by what you’ve written?
I’ve never been frightened by anything I’ve written, but instead, feel a slight adrenaline rush, the increasing heightened awareness of my words, and the seriousness of the scene I’m putting together. I’m in control of what I’m writing and what I want to happen next, and, therefore, I’m not as frightened. However, with other books, I don’t know what’s coming or what the author has planned and my anticipation goes into overdrive, my eyes racing to the next sentence, and the next.
Years ago, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood had me on the edge of my seat when the main character found herself running through the exact same woods she’d been staring at and fearing all night. And every one of Stephen King’s books has frightened me (lights on, must read a few pages of something else lighter before I go to sleep), especially Doctor Sleep which had me ducking beneath the covers. But I don’t read a lot of horror these days and tend to read more psychological suspense/thrillers.
What’s your perfect lazy day and where would you have it?
My perfect lazy day would be at the beach, waking up to a coffee and breakfast that someone has made for me (ahem, oh, beloved husband!) and sitting on the balcony staring at the ocean. The rest of the day would be spent swimming or listening to music by the pool (cocktail in hand, of course). And in the evening, a nice dinner and a soak in the tub. Ahh, bliss. And no social media!
If you could be a character in a book for a day, who would you be?
What a great question. So many of the books I read (including what I write) feature characters going through murder, mayhem, or grief so I would want to avoid those storylines (!!). A fabulous idea would be to become a superhero—how fun is that?! We all dream about it as kids so why not as adults? With a combined family of four boys, we are often watching Marvel movies, and in particular, Spider-Man; the kids used to be obsessed with the comics. I would be Spider-Woman who leaps through the air and falls from great heights without getting hurt while also saving people and maintaining order. What a rush.
Just for fun, choose one answer for each:
- Laundry or Dishes? Laundry
- Movies or TV? Movies
- iOS or Android? iOS
- Coffee or Tea? Coffee
- Ninjas or Pirates? Ninjas
- Beach, City or Forest? Beach
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
If only this could happen in real life! I would love to sit down with Michelle and Barack Obama. Not only do I admire the Obamas and find them to be incredibly interesting and inspiring, I’ve seen interviews where they’re also quite fun. I think we would have a lively conversation. Plus, they love music and books!
I would also invite Queen Elizabeth I because her history is both fascinating and complicated as to what she went through to reach the throne and how she created the glorious Elizabethan Era, or Golden Age. And finally, I would invite my two grandmothers who are passed away now, but there are still stories I want to hear, including anecdotes about their childhood. I would sit down with my Po-Po, especially, my grandmother on my mother’s side who is Malaysian-Chinese. She spoke very little English and since I didn’t speak much of our Haika dialect anymore, we weren’t able to talk much. I would love to be able to sit down with her and once again be fluent in Haika so we could have a long conversation.
What are some of the book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently?
The Chain by Adrian McKinty came out several years ago but is still one of the books that stands out in my mind. In terms of coming up with a wholly original idea (which can be difficult to do these days) this book hit it right out of the park with a concept I’d never heard before. I very much admire Adrian McKinty’s creative and harrowing storyline. The Chain focuses on a chain letter kidnapping scheme where a woman’s child is abducted but in order to free her child, she must abduct someone else’s, and so on. Not only is the premise frightening, the book moves at break-neck speed as each family races to save their loved one while also having to repeat the unthinkable.
More recent books I have read and loved recently would be Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron, Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison, Survive the Night by Riley Sager, and Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney. All first class in psychological suspense and thrillers. Taking a break from reading suspense, I also enjoyed Sally Rooney’s latest Beautiful World, Where Are You?
How has the pandemic affected your writing or writing schedule, or has it?
In spring of 2020, I left my job in marketing/workforce development to write full-time after signing a couple of publishing contracts. It happened to be the exact same week the school systems closed and the boys came home to do virtual school (we have one in middle school, high school, and two in college, so the older boys moved out of their dorms and returned home too).
After twenty years of working in an office, I found myself at the kitchen table with my laptop while the boys had their laptops set up on the other side of the table. We did the best we could navigating online school. During summer break, I wrote mostly in the mornings before the kids woke up. But once Covid restrictions lifted a little bit and the kids were back to in-person school and basketball practices started up again, there were a lot more disruptions and noise in the house.
I ended up finding a space beneath the stairs and in the storage room that is also used as the tornado shelter. We also jokingly refer to it as the prison cellar! The “writing bunker” is where I write now and it’s the best place for me to block out the noise. The pipes and plumbing are also down there so I know when my husband is in the shower and getting ready for work and when the boys are racing off to school. But at least I have a space to concentrate. And, periodically, I remind myself to go outside for fresh air.
Writing Nanny Needed
Let’s talk about your book Nanny Needed. Can you tell us what it’s about in a few sentences?
Nanny Needed is about a young woman working for a glamorous family in the Upper West Side who discovers a disturbing secret about the child in her care. When Sarah Larsen moves to New York City, she finds out that waiting tables is not going to pay off her bills fast enough, including the medical expenses that has accrued after her aunt (who raised her) passed away. When Sarah sees the Nanny Needed ad hanging in her apartment lobby, she believes she can make more money while also experiencing the extravagant life of a family living in a penthouse on West 78th Street. However, Sarah ignores the strange wording in the ad:
Call for an interview.
Discretion is of the utmost importance.
Special conditions apply.
Sarah answers the ad. The question is… would you?
Where did the idea for Nanny Needed come from?
I was inspired to write Nanny Needed while my sister lived in New York City. Visiting with my parents, we’d take these long walks to explore, and oftentimes find ourselves wandering around the Upper West Side and staring up at the apartment buildings. I remember looking at one of the penthouses and the dark burgundy drapes hanging in the windows and wondering what that family’s life was like. Were they happy? And what if they weren’t? What if the family was hiding something behind those four walls, and none of us standing below can imagine what was truly taking place. That was the initial idea for the book.
Have you ever been a nanny? Did any of your previous jobs give you insight into what Sarah goes through?
I was a babysitter in middle school and high school, but that’s nothing like being a full-time nanny. When we visited my sister in New York, I definitely noticed nannies pushing strollers through the park and chatting with other nanny friends at the playgrounds. I also knew of tutors whose students lived in the Upper East or West sides and the extravagant penthouses and families these tutors would encounter during their sessions. It definitely got my imagination rolling about an outsider infiltrating a family like this, only to find out they’ve picked the wrong family.
Describe Nanny Needed in three words.
Creepy. Emotional. Shocking.
What do you think readers will love about Nanny Needed?
There is something about reading about the uber wealthy that is enticing, glamorous, and over-the-top. A sneak peek into how “the other half” lives, we could say. Besides the descriptions of the opulent homes, the décor and glitz, and designer clothing, there is often a fascination behind the characters’ flamboyant and reckless behavior, and their entitled notions that money can buy them everything—including a way for covering up their secrets, even if that includes murder. And that’s what happens with the Bird family in Nanny Needed. Their money has allowed the Birds to get away with a few too many tragedies, but with Sarah as the new nanny, it’s time that every one of their secrets rises to the surface.
Also, Nanny Needed is a nanny book like no other. There are several fantastic suspense books featuring nannies and family drama, but this one has a shocker of an ending that’s unlike anything else. Trust me, and read to find out!
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
I truly enjoyed writing Collette Bird’s character. Not only was it fun writing about someone whose arms and hands dripped with jewels and she wore the most amazing outfits, she had a mental state that was interesting to explore. She could go from regal and glamorous one minute to fragile and unhinged in the next. And there were reasons for that, an entire backstory that was deeply emotional and frayed.
I enjoyed writing about the emotional connection that developed between Collette and Sarah, and the sympathy Sarah felt in wanting to help her. In that penthouse, Collette is trapped in her own gilded cage, and Sarah feels the need to help her even if that means becoming more entrenched in the family’s lies.
I love how you explore madness and how it can consume an entire family. Can you tell us how this came to be one of the themes in the book?
It’s tragic what happens to Collette Bird and the way she falls into a deep despair. It’s equally tragic how she chooses to deal with her grief and how the family and household staff coddle her so she can maintain these beliefs. By quieting Collette and giving in to her every whim, the family doesn’t realize they’re only making her condition worse, which is something Sarah, the nanny, tries to change.
But as we see in the book, when a person wants so desperately to imagine a certain way of life and they want to believe a certain way, their mind can play tricks on them. They can conjure a reality that’s far from the truth. And in their sadness, they can drag everyone else into their maddening world also.
That ending, though! Without giving anything away, did you have it planned from the beginning or did you find out the ending as you wrote?
That ending was a lot of fun to write. I knew I wanted the book to end that way and what I wanted readers to discover about this family. But the way of getting to that ending changed a couple of times over the course of several drafts. I knew the roles for the nanny Sarah, and the men of the family, Alex and Stephen Bird, but I really had to dive into the psychology behind Collette Bird and the remaining household staff. Understanding where each of them were coming from and why they did what they did changed in later drafts in big thanks to my beta reader friend, Nicole, my agent, and editor who helped with revisions. But, yes, the book was always going to lead up to that explosive reveal at the girl’s birthday party.
What’s Next For You?
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc?
I’m with two different publishers so I’m actively working on two other projects for 2022. With Bookouture, Hachette Publishing, the book tentatively is titled Girl in My House and is about a woman whose sister is murdered and she finds herself caring for her teenage niece, but she hasn’t seen her niece since she was a toddler. It turns out there are several big reasons why everyone in the family is estranged.
And for Bantam, Penguin Random House, my next book is tentatively titled One Night and is set on the Oregon coast where a family has been summoned to a house on a cliff, but they don’t know by who. A storm races in, the family is pointing fingers at everyone else about who murdered their daughter ten years ago, and as the hours tick by, they only have the one night to make a decision and learn the truth.
Get In Touch
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