Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including her latest domestic suspense, Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
Stranger In The Lake
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A moody, mesmerizing mystery that smoulders with a brooding, slow-burn tension. Kimberly Belle has done it again…
Author’s Corner – Interview with Kimberly Belle
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?
I spend a lot of time sitting, so when I am done for the day, I want to get up and move. Take the dog for a walk, go for a run through the park, get on the Peloton downstairs. Pre-pandemic, my favorite workout was SoulCycle, and I can’t wait to get back into the studio.
What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
I worked for years in non-profit fundraising, and as much as I loved the job, I’m not sure it’s something I would go back to. I would miss the flexibility of working from home, and the creative kick I get from finding just the right word. But I do love to travel, so I would probably look for a job that allowed me to see the world. Especially now that my kids are grown, I could spend much of the year on the road and not get homesick for a single minute.
What was your favorite childhood book?
The first story I remember being obsessed with is Charlotte’s Web. I haven’t read it in ages, and though I can no longer recount the details of the plot or tell you all the characters’ names, I can still remember how that story made me feel. That’s the best kind of story, one that gives you a visceral you remember all those years (not telling how many) later.
The person who helped me fall in love with reading is…
My father, though it wasn’t so much falling in love with reading as with story. His nightly bedtime stories ranged from the fantastical to the hilarious to the downright terrifying. It’s a tradition that carried over to my kids. My favorites became their favorites, and at family get-togethers he can still regale us with tales of Jake the Wonder Dog.
If you could recommend any other book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently, what would it be?
I recently tore through the paperback of Heather Gudenkauf’s This Is How I Lied, and I just finished listening to Kimberly McCreight’s The Good Marriage. Both were absolutely fabulous!
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela because I’m a political junkee. Lin Manuel Miranda because he’s a genius. Jane Austen because well…she’s Jane Austen! And Princess Diana because I bet she was sitting on lots of good gossip.
How do you brainstorm new ideas?
I wish I had a good method, but up to now, ideas have just sort of popped in my head—not always when I need them, but I keep a list I can whip out whenever my editor says, “what’s next?” But coming up with a premise and hammering out the plot is actually my least favorite part of the process because it’s so hard. I need someone to teach me how to brainstorm!
Writing Stranger In The Lake
Let’s talk about your new book, Stranger In The Lake. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
Stranger in the Lake is a story about Charlotte, a woman who’s left her trailer-park past behind her to marry Paul, an older, wealthier man with a gorgeous house on an Appalachian lake in North Carolina. Their relationship is the focus of small-town gossip, but Charlotte is able to ignore it until a woman’s body washes up under their dock—in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife drowned.
At first, the woman’s death seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage and dark secrets that have been simmering under the lake’s waters for years.
Where did you come up with the idea?
I’ve wanted to write a lake story for a while now. There’s just something about a big body of water–the dark swirling currents, the beautiful but remote setting… It’s the perfect place to set a suspenseful story because you just know something bad is going to happen there.
At the same time, I spend a good deal of family time in the Highlands/Cashiers area of North Carolina. It’s a place of stunning beauty, but where there’s a huge gulf between rich and poor. Wealthy outsiders have come in and completely transformed the area, carving out golf courses and building shops and restaurants and million dollar homes on the lake…and then you have the people who have lived there for generations—the ones flipping the burgers and scrubbing the toilets. This polarity makes for some very interesting dynamics, because when there’s money involved, when people have too much or their basic needs aren’t being met, morals can become questionable. This is something I really dug into for this story.
Describe Stranger In The Lake in three words.
So many secrets!
What actors would you cast to play Charlotte and Paul?
Hmmm, I think Julia Garner would nail the role of rags-to-riches Charlotte, and Josh Lucas would be the perfect Paul. Both are great at Southern accents, too.
What do you think readers will love about Stranger In The Lake?
I really hope readers will love Charlotte as much as I do. She was born into the worst possible family, an absent father and an emotionally abusive mother who left her home with a baby for long periods of time, but instead of turning bitter or following in their footsteps, she emerged stronger. She figured out a way to grow into a smart and kind and loving and trusting—maybe too trusting–person. She wants so much more out of life than what her parents offered, and she’s not afraid to work for it.
I love how you perfectly balance emotion with suspense in your books, and you’ve really hit the nail on the head with this one! Did you plot it before you sat down and wrote it or are you more of a pantser?
Thank you! But to answer your question, I am a hard-core plotter. My stories are complicated and have a lot of moving pieces, so I spend months thinking them through before I write the first word. I start with the basics: plot, character, a one or two sentence logline, and then I take it from there.
I brainstorm, add subplots and secondary characters, fill in and expand on the many blank spots. Once I have a fairly detailed outline, I’ll run it by my agent and editor, both of whom are brilliant at pointing out all the places it could be better. Crafting a story is a group effort, and their feedback really helps me as I’m shaping the plot. But only once the outline is done and the story is clear in my head do I sit down to write.
Stranger In The Lake is absolutely oozing with atmosphere! Is it based on a real location or is it completely fictional?
It’s a little of both, fictional but based on a real place. Readers familiar with the area might recognize some details from Lake Glenville, which I transformed and embellished to fit the story. I renamed the lake and put a town that doesn’t exist on its shores, but many of the real landmarks are right there, in the story.
What’s next for Kimberly Belle?
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 am currently working on a story about a home invasion. It’s a premise that has always terrified me, and it hits awfully close to home, as it happens a lot here in Atlanta. I even know a family that survived one. I’ve pulled in a few details of their experience for this story, then mixed in plenty more from my imagination. No title yet, but out sometime in 2021.
Get In Touch
Kimberly Belle loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at:
98 Reviews for Kimberly Belle
The book sounds great
Thanks, Stephanie – hope you get your hands on a copy soon 🙂
I would really love to read this book. Sounds sooooo good. And I haven’t won anything in a long time.😉 😁thanks for the opportunity.
Fingers crossed for you, Barbara 🙂
This book sounds very intriguing.
Thanks, Julie! 🥳🥳🥳
Would love to read this.
Thanks, Cindy – hope you love ❤️
Would love to win this book!
The book will offer late night reading! Sounds hard to put down.
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book and it was a page turner. Could not put it down.
That’s what I like to hear, thanks Daphne! 😍
Cannot wait to read
Hop you get your hands on a copy soon, and that you love! 🙏
I have been waiting for your book! Since I first seen it advertised I have been wanting to get my hands on a copy, it sounds sooooo good! If I don’t win it in a contest I will have to pick it up when I can! Great interview!
Thanks so much, Tara – fingers crossed you win and love ❤️
I’d love to read this.
Thanks Janis! 🙂
Cant wait to read this book!
Thanks, Wendy – hope you love and adore ❤️
This sounds so good. I definitely want to read it.
It’s so good! I think you’d enjoy it! 🙂
Thank you both!! ❤️
Sounds very interesting would love to read this
Thanks, Kisha 🙂
Loved the interview!
Loved the interview!
Thank you so much, Maureen! It’s so much fun for me to interview authors and get an insight into their books! 🙂
Loved doing it!! Thanks for having me ❤️
I’d love to read this
Thanks, Holly – hope you love!
Sounds so good!
Can’t wait to read this!
I love Kimberly Belle’s books.
Isn’t she amazing? She’s such a fantastic author! 🙂
Thanks, guys – #blushing 🙂
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while. Kimberly is a marvelous author. Her enthusiasm for her book is contagious.
Thanks so much, Donna!! Hope you get your hands on a copy soon 💖
This sounds so good !! Can’t wait to read it ! Kimberly’s interview validated that for sure! B
Aww, thank you!! Hope you love Stranger ❤️
This sounds intriguing. I would like to read it.
Great sounding book!
I love her books and this one is sure to be as good as her others.
Thank you, Linda! Hope you love this one just as much ❤️
Looks like great book to read
Want to read this!
Sounds like a great summer read!
It is! Perfect for reading lakeside! 🙂
Just maybe stay out of the water. 😉
This book sounds fascinating. I love suspence and excitement. Wondering whats gonna happen next. Id love to read this book.
Can’t wait to read Stranger In The Lake! A lot of great buzz about it!!
Thanks, Lisa! It’s been so fun to watch 😉
It sounds like a really great book
This book sounds like it’s for me.
I hope you get your hands on a copy soon! 🙏
I got read a good thriller like this one.
You has me at So Many Secrets!
Ha! I love me a good secret 😍
I’d love to read this.
Hope to read!
The book sounds wonderful! Would love to read! Thanks for the insight into the writers/authors you interview…very interesting!
Thank you so much, Phyllis! It’s so much fun for me! 🙂
Sounds intriguing. Definitely my kind of book.
These stories are very exciting and I would love to win them
I love reading and these look like very interesting books.I would love to win them.
This is right up my street. Definitely my next read.
YAY! That’s what I like to hear, hope you love ❤️
Sounds like a must read!
What a great interview. This book sounds amazing (and so does the one that Kimberly Belle is working on next!!) Thank you for these interviews, Christina. I love them!
My pleasure, I love doing these author interviews! Kimberly Belle is such a star. One of my favs for sure! 🙂
Great interview, she sounds like the perfect book type that I enjoy reading – psychological thriller, lots of secrets etc
LOTS of secrets 😉
I have heard so much about this book I can’t wait to get a copy of it. Kimberly I love her books.
Yay!! Hope you love Stranger, Tammy ❤️
This sounds like my kind of read. Definitely adding to my list.
Yay! Hope you love it, Peggy 💖
Sounds like a really good book
I can’t wait to read this book. I am always looking for new authors and books to read.
Thanks, Kelly, hope you love Stranger 💖
Another book I look forward to reading.
Would love to read full book!
Sounds like a book that would keep you up past your bedtime!! Thanks for the chance!
This sounds like my kind of read!
Even if I don’t win, I’m adding this to my wish list. It sounds great
Thanks, Michelle! Hope you love Stranger 💖
I can’t wait to read Kimberly’s book and your new one. I read Dear Wife and The Night Olivia Fell and I loved them.
I’m so excited for Do No Harm to come out in Feb! Why is it soo far away?! 🙂
Would love to read!!
Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance.
Sounds like the perfect summer read!
Agh! I need this one!!❤️❤️😍
Yay! Hope you get a copy soon! 💖
This looks so interesting. Thanks for the post
I’d love to read this book!
I absolutely love stories like this, past incidents involving a spouse, very much looking forward to this. Reading A Good Marriage right now, enjoying it a lot!
Loved that one, too, Rhonda. Hope you love Stranger, too ❤️