Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo.
This Is How I Lied
Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide. A twisty, evocative tale of the danger of secrets and the power the past has to lead us down deliciously dangerous paths. Immersive and richly atmospheric, This Is How I Lied intertwines page-turning suspense with characters that creep into your very bones.
Author’s Corner – Interview with Heather Gudenkauf
Thanks so much for being on Author’s Corner again! Writing thrillers and mysteries is pretty intense. What do you like to do after a day of writing intense scenes? What’s your favorite me-time treat?
After an intense day of writing, I’ll go for a long hike with my dog, Lolo. Being outside and out in nature revitalizes me and often while out on the trails, a sticky story point suddenly becomes clear.
What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
I’ve been involved with education for over twenty-five years, first as a classroom teacher and then in professional learning and curriculum development. If I wasn’t writing, I’d return to my education roots full time.
I’d also love to be able open a bookstore or I’d be happy just to work in one. Being surrounding by books all day long – bliss.
What was your favorite childhood book?
I adored (and still do) the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child I would find a quiet corner of the house – not easy with five older brothers and sisters- and read for hours. I was also known for tossing all the toys out of our toy box and climbing inside with a copy of The Long Winter and a flashlight. I’d close the lid and disappear into the world of Laura, Mary, Carrie, Pa and Ma.
The person who helped me fall in love with reading is…
Definitely my parents. My mom and dad have always been big readers so we always had books around the house. They both worked and took care of a busy household so they didn’t have a lot of time to read out loud to us, but I saw the books stacked on their bedside table and on the bookshelves. I saw them reading in their scarce free moments. I think this speaks volumes – what a person chooses to do when there are only scraps of time. For my parents that was reading.
If you could recommend any other book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently, what would it be?
I’m reading a beautifully written psychological thriller by Julia Heaberlin called We Are All the Same in the Dark. It’s a novel that follows a police officer, Odette Tucker, in a small Texas town with a dark history. Odette is trying to solve the decade’s old disappearance of the town’s beauty queen when she discovers a mute, one-eyed young girl in a field of dandelions. It hits the shelves in August and I can’t wait to talk about it with other readers. Excellent!
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
In this time of social distancing, this is an easy one to answer. I would invite my mom and dad and my grown kids who live on their own. I miss them so much. We talk all the time but it’s not the same as being in the same room with them.
In normal times, I would choose the following:
- Willa Cather – My Antonia is my favorite novel of all time. I’d love to visit with Willa about her novels and writing.
- Jane Goodall – because monkeys!
- Mother Theresa – she was such a kind, selfless woman, I’d like to get her perspective on the world today.
- Katherine Swedensky – my great-grandmother. I want to know all about her history and her life that spanned a hundred years. I have so many questions.
- Maya Angelou – I loved her writing and her wisdom.
How do you brainstorm new ideas?
I often get my ideas from the news. I’ll scan news articles and a tidbit will jump out at me. It can be the smallest detail but the idea will gradually bloom into a full story.
Writing This Is How I Lied
Let’s talk about This Is How I Lied. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
This is How I Lied tells the story Eve Knox and her last day on earth and the subsequent search for her killer. Twenty-five years ago, Eve’s odd little sister, Nola, and best friend, Maggie, discover her body in the caves near their neighbourhood. Though there are many suspects, the case goes cold and it isn’t until decades later a new clue emerges. Now a police detective and seven months pregnant, Maggie, still haunted by Eve’s death, starts digging into the case and more clues begin to emerge and danger behind every shadow.
Where did you come up with the idea for This Is How I Lied?
Just like with many of my novels, I got the idea from the news. I’ve been fascinated by how modern technology is being used to close decades old cold cases. I thought it would be interesting to explore how this might play out in a small town where the inhabitants (and the guilty party) believed the truth behind the crime would never be discovered.
Describe This Is How I Lied in three words.
Dark, twisty, emotional
What actress/actor would you cast to play Maggie, Eve and NOla?
Oh, this is a hard question! For Eve I can see Kaitlyn Dever from Unbelievable. She would be perfect. For adult Maggie I picture Keri Russell from Felicity and The Americans and for adult Nola, I see Amy Adams – they’d be fabulous.
Was the ending planned from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote it?
This project completely evolved from what I envisioned when I started to what came to be the final book. That ending poked its head up near the end of revisions and seemed to be the perfect resolution to the novel.
What do you think readers will love about This Is How I Lied?
I hope readers love the characters in the novel. They are complex, human sometimes loveable and oftentimes not. I also hope readers enjoy the wild ride this book will take them on.
I love how exhilarating each of your books is and was completely engrossed in This Is How I Lied from page one. Did you plot it before you sat down and wrote it or are you more of a pantser?
Thank you so much! I approach each of my novels with the goal of being a plotter. I make notes, outline thoughts but ultimately the characters take over and do what they want to anyway. Thankfully, I have a brilliant editor who is able to see through the weeds and pull out the best parts of my plots and keep me on the right path
What I really found stunning about This Is How I Lied are the characters of Maggie and Nola. Maggie being pregnant added so much depth to her character, and Nola, wow! She really just leapt off the page! How do you create characters who are so life-like?
I really attempt to give my characters rich backstories. Often these don’t make into the story, but by fully developing their personalities and histories, it helps keep me in tune with them as I write. Knowing the characters’ likes and dislikes, their foibles and strengths helps me to honestly and accurately determine their motivations and the decisions they make as they move through the novel.
What’s next for Heather?
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc? Where did you get the idea?
I just finished my next novel! I know there is plenty of editing ahead of me so I can’t say too much but the main characters are stranded in a blizzard with no electricity or cell service and evil is lurking close by.
Get In Touch
Heather loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at: