Wendy Walker is the bestselling author of All is Not Forgotten, Emma In the Night, The Night Before, and Don’t Look for Me. She has sold rights to her books in 23 languages, as well as film and television options, and they have been featured on The Today Show and The Reese Witherspoon Book Club. Wendy is currently finishing her fifth thriller and managing a busy household in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where she lives with her family.
Don’t Look For Me
One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life. She doesn’t want to be found. Or at least, that’s the story. The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together. They called it a “walk away.” It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.
But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?
Electric and atmospheric, Don’t Look For Me is so much more than a cleverly-plotted, beautifully-written novel. This gorgeously layered thriller is riveting, haunting and emotional…
Author’s Corner – Interview with Wendy Walker
Thanks so much for being on Author’s Corner again! Where do you get your writing ideas from? Do you keep notes throughout the day, or just start at the beginning and go?
They come from everywhere and anywhere! Sometimes from an article I’ve read in the news, or have heard about. Mostly though, the ideas come from moments that I experience and then take notice of. I will often write them down or dictate them into my phone.
The concept for All Is Not Forgotten came from a news article. Emma in the Night was inspired by the horrific discovery of the women being held captive in Cleveland, Ohio. The Night Before was the culmination of numerous stories about deception in online dating. And the idea for Don’t Look for Me came to me in a real life moment which actually forms the start of the book. A woman on a long drive, emotions spinning out of control, having an irrational thought about just walking away from it all. My experience wasn’t that extreme of course, because I’m still here! But the town I was driving through, the general experience, all of that is in the book.
What was the very first thing—ever—that you remember writing?
I remember writing a personal essay in high school about my family. I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but it was inspired by a teacher I had who told us a story from her own past. It was about her grandmother whose birthdate had been changed on her tombstone to hide the fact that she was actually born fewer than nine months after her parents had been married. I found this fascinating and decided to write something personal myself.
How has being a bestselling author changed things for you? Do you still write the same, or is there more/less pressure now?
There is much more pressure now, but of course that is a small price to pay for having a career as a writer. With each book, I feel a desire to be better than before. More creative in my narrations. More devious in my plotting. More complex in my character development. All of my books have been different, and so I do try to keep changing things up. But they still need to stay within the psychological thriller genre. I am very appreciative of my supportive readers and I want to give them stories they love to read!
What are some of the book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently?
I am so fortunate to get advanced copies of many wonderful books and it is very hard to single them out. I loved Karen Dionne’s latest, The Wicked Sister. John Fram’s controversial debut The Bright Lands, and Aimee Molloy’s Goodnight Beautiful. They are all so different but so good.
What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
I wish I had a good answer for this. It comes when it wants to and evades me when I try to force it. Sometimes I can stare at a blank page and think hard enough that an idea will squeeze out. But usually I have to step back, do something else, and let my brain have the space to draw from all of the different places where oplots come from.
As a thriller author, what scares you? Do you ever find yourself scared by what you’ve written, or is it usually external things?
I am never scared by what I’ve written unless it’s really bad! The funny thing is that I can write the most frightening scenarios but then I can’t read them in other books or watch them in movies or TV shows. There is something about being in control of the outcome and the evil forces that erases the fear completely and in fact propels me to ramp it up. Most of my edits reduce the more terrifying and horrific scenes rather than the other way around!
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Melinda Gat because she is changing the world for women.
Elon Musk because there is something going on there that is psychologically fascinating.
Margaret Sanger because she had the courage to fight for things we take for granted today.
Any relative from a generation before my great grandparents because I never got to meet them and they are where I’ve come from.
Myself 30 years from now to know that everything turned out OK.
If I could write like one other author it would be __________, because___________?
If I could write like one other author it would be Liz Moore, because she has a magical way of capturing her characters and scenes with very few, well-chosen words.
Writing Don’t Look For Me
Let’s talk about your book Don’t Look For Me. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
It starts with Molly Clarke. Mother of three. Still mourning the accidental death of her youngest child 5 years ago to the day. Thoughts spinning about how her family is falling apart and she is the cause – she still blames herself for the accident. She’s driving back from her son’s football game when she runs out of gas and in a moment of despair, begins to walk away from everything – from her life. Her family will be better off without her.
When she finally comes to her senses, a storm is raging and she accepts a ride from a man in a truck with a little girl beside him. She doesn’t know the danger until it’s too late. Two weeks later, her grown daughter, Nicole, gets a new lead on her disappearance. Everyone has assumed that Molly has walked away – they found her car and a note to that effect. But Nicole doesn’t believe it and she returns to the neglected, eerie town of Hastings to search for her mother.
I absolutely loved Don’t Look For Me, it’s so electric and atmospheric with so many layers, I couldn’t put it down! Where did you come up with the idea?
Thanks! I came up with the idea while I, myself, was driving back from my son’s soccer game about 4 hours from home. It was a difficult time in my life, and had been a hard day emotionally. My own thoughts were spinning and when I stopped to get gas, I saw this road that went on and on, flanked by cornfields, into the horizon.
I had this strange flash of a thought to just walk down that road. The thought passed quickly and I continued home, but I held onto that moment and asked myself where that thought had come from and whether others may have had a similar experience. I learned that it is actually very common – left over impulses from primitive fight or flight instincts that we all have. When emotions become overwhelming, the brain reacts the way it would to a predator and it tells us to flee. What is fascinating, is that most women who disappear have, in fact, walked away from their lives under these kinds of extreme emotional situations.
Describe Don’t Look For Me in three words.
Moving. Eerie. Page-turning.
What do you think readers will love about Don’t Look For Me?
I have been hearing from readers that this is their favourite of my books. I tried to combine a page-turning structure with deep psychological elements and highly sympathetic characters. I did not utilize any of the common mechanisms of our genre, like unreliable narrators and shifting time frames. It’s a straight-up mystery with a lot of twists and turns and a heavy dose of eerie, creepy settings. The plot ends up being somewhat complex with some big surprises at the end. But I think what readers like the most is that they are rooting for both characters in both narrations in every chapter.
I love how you show both the mother and daughter POV in Don’t Look For Me. It really heightened the sense of menace and the emotional impact. Was this intentional from the beginning or did it develop organically as you wrote?
I knew I wanted two narrators so I could use multiple time frames that converge about half way through the book. I also wanted there to be a strong mother-daughter bond as that is what much of the book is about. The plot evolved from there, but that was always the original intent of the book.
What’s next for Wendy Walker?
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 still working on the plot so I don’t have much to report! But I can announce that I wrote an Audible Original called Hold Your Breath, which should be released in 2020. I am in love with this story! It brings back Dr. Alan Forrester from All Is Not Forgotten, and introduces some new characters who may show up in future works. It was a joy to write Dr. Forrester again and I hope readers will become listeners and look for Hold Your Breath!
Get In Touch
Wendy loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at: