Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. She has also written several books for young adults, including Come Find Me, Fragments of the Lost, and The Safest Lies. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.
The Girl From Widow Hills
Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain.
Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. And when she wakes up one night outside, in her yard, the corpse of a man at her feet, the girl from Widow Hills will become the center of the story, once again.
A dark, hypnotic tale about the danger of becoming the stories you tell, The Girl From Widow Hills is beautiful and sinister, with a haunting, atmospheric heart. It asks questions like, what happens to the people who find themselves at those sensational news stories that capture the nation’s attention? Where do they go after the story has finished? Is it ever finished?
Author’s Corner – Interview with Megan Miranda
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 love to end my writing day by sitting out back and reading (although I’m typically treating myself to another mystery or thriller!) Usually one of my kids will come join me with a book, and that feels like an extra treat.
What was the very first thing—ever—that you can remember writing?
Ha, oh boy, I haven’t thought about this in a long time, and suddenly it seems very fitting. I had gone with my mom to work one day, and had taken a stack of printer paper and scotch tape from her desk—I remember working to make a book from it. I do not recall the entire plot, but it one hundred percent began with a dark thunderstorm and a girl (me, definitely me), running up and down various staircases, terrified of….something. (Side note: no one in my family was surprised I ended up writing thrillers)
What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
Well, I’ve had a few other careers before writing my first book (I worked in biotech, and then as a high school science teacher). If I weren’t a writer, I imagine I’d be doing something related to either science or teaching again.
What was your favorite childhood book?
I loved the Nancy Drew series, but also remember very vividly how it felt to read Bridge to Terabithia—it’s stuck with me for decades since.
The person who helped me fall in love with reading is…
Definitely my mother. She is and was a huge reader herself, and she used to bring me to the library every week, letting me roam the aisles, discovering the books that spoke to me.
If you could recommend any other book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently, what would it be?
I’ve read so many great books so far this year! Here are two recent thrillers that have really stuck with me: Long Bright River by Liz Moore and Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Well, like many others, we’ve been mostly home without visitors for quite some time. Usually, in the summer, we have a lot of family coming to visit from out of state. So at the moment, I am dreaming of the time when I can have 5 (or 10, or more) of my family coming in to town!
You write psychological suspense for both adults and young adults. Do you prefer one over the other? How do you switch between the two?
I don’t prefer writing one over the other, and I approach them similarly—my process doesn’t really change all that much. For me, the main difference is thinking about what story is suited best for which type of character, and filtering the story through their perspective.
I think one of the hallmarks of young adult is a character experiencing something for the first time, discovering who they are in the process; whereas the adult perspective is filtering these same events through these years of lived experience, while their past has helped shape how they perceive the events around them.
Writing The Girl From Widow Hills
Let’s talk about your new book, The Girl From Widow Hills. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
Yes! The Girl from Widow Hills is about a girl named Arden who was the center of a huge media story when she was growing up: when she was six years old, she was swept away during a storm while sleepwalking, and became the focus of a massive search and rescue operation that captured the nation’s interest. She became known to the media as the girl from Widow Hills. But the attention became too much, and when she was old enough, she changed her name to Olivia and moved away for a fresh start.
The book begins as the 20-year anniversary of her accident is approaching, and Olivia suddenly feels like she’s being watched, and she worries that maybe she has been found. She even begins sleepwalking again, which she hasn’t done since she was a child. Until one night, she wakes in her front yard standing over a dead body, and realizes she’s about to become the center of a story once more…
Where did you come up with the idea?
I had been thinking about these huge media stories that capture the public interest—the ones that really stand the test of time and linger in our collective memory. Years ago, I was watching a news program and heard someone mention the story of Baby Jessica, and I remembered the story in an instant, though I had been a child when it happened.
Most recently, I was thinking about the soccer team who became trapped in the Thai caves, and how invested I became in following their rescue. And I remembered the feeling when they were found alive, after so long. I started to think about a main character who had been the center of a major event like this when they were young, but who maybe didn’t want to be part of the story. I was also thinking about what can make a story like this sensational, and that’s where the idea for The Girl from Widow Hills began.
Describe The Girl From Widow Hills in three words.
The past returns.
What do you think readers will love about The Girl From Widow Hills?
One of the themes I’ve been drawn to in several of my previous books is whether we can ever escape the past and become somebody new. And this book takes that in a very literal direction. I hope readers will be hooked on the suspense and the story, but the character journey is something that I really loved writing—and I hope readers will respond to that too.
I love how you perfectly you nail suspense in your books! Do you usually plot your books before you sit down and write or are you more of a pantser?
Thank you! I am definitely a pantser. I always start with character before plot, so my first drafts are very much discovery drafts. I really need to write my way into things before I discover who the characters are and what their relationships are like before I can have a sense of what happened and why. So a lot of the work for me comes afterward, in revisions. I try to outline as I go, discovering things along the way. I might have the main turning points in my mind in the earlier parts of the writing process, but the path to getting there is always a surprise.
What’s next for Megan Miranda?
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?
Yes, I am in the middle of something new! I can’t say too much about it yet, because it’s still a work in progress. But it’s another adult thriller, and it definitely follows some of the themes I’ve been drawn to in my previous books!
Get In Touch
Megan loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at: