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Engrossing Supernatural Thriller: Q&A with Caroline Kepnes about her latest novel Providence

August 14, 2018

About The Author

Caroline Kepnes is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her first novel You was translated into nineteen languages and shortlisted for a CWA New Blood Award. Her second novel Hidden Bodies is a sequel that Booklist describes as the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman. Caroline earned a BA in American Civilization at Brown University and worked as a pop culture journalist on Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven. She now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles. A ten-episode TV series based on You will premiere on Lifetime Network in 2018.

Purchase a copy of Providence here 

Read our review of Providence here

Providence has been described as a “fascinating genre-bending novel” – it’s romance, it’s crime, it’s a supernatural thriller. Can you tell us a bit about the story?

I wanted to explore yearning in our modern culture of connection. And the dream is to make the reader feel uncomfortably close to the characters as they grapple with the toxic power of love and break their own moral codes.

You meet Jon and Chloe when they’re best friends on the verge of becoming something more. They don’t have much in common except their burgeoning feelings for one another. Jon is kidnapped, and both Jon and Chloe are stuck on either side of radio silence. When he returns, he’s sort of toxic to humans. And then he disappears again. Meanwhile, young people are dropping dead from heart attacks. An older detective named Eggs is convinced that these deaths are not what they seem. And this is how these stories converge. It’s a love story about how we turn into monsters, and don’t, when we’re deprived love.

Providence is full of really well drawn characters. Which character did you most enjoy creating and why?

It was exciting to follow Chloe to college, into her twenties. I loved delving into those moments of transformation, the moments we usually only recognize in retrospect. Here she is, trying to understand why her best friend disappeared on her, how to carry a torch while using her hands to do what feels natural to her. What do you do without that person who makes you feel like your best self? Where do we draw the line between codependency and love?

Providence is your third novel, after You and Hidden Bodies. Are there any common themes you explore across all your works?

I think isolation is always there. I’m fascinated by how much our daily routines have changed in a relatively short about of time, the access we have, the ever-present opportunity to express ourselves, create our identities. All of these characters in my work—including the protagonist in my new book I’m writing—they all feel alone in the world, and this sensation is compounded by the Internet.

Which writers or books have been most influential for you?

I have been rereading Edwidge Danticat and remembering what an impact her books had on me when I was studying fiction writing in college. I can never say enough about how much I love Stephen King, his range, his enchanting voice. Ann Petry, those last fifty pages of The Street, oh man, that book is always with me. And Patricia Highsmith, Charles Dickens, Charles Bukowski, Joyce Carol Oates, Stewart O’Nan, those are a few of my all time favorites. I’m also inspired by Iain Reid, Charlotte Wood, Amina Akhtar and Paul Tremblay.

You were a pop culture journalist as well as a TV writer. Why did you decide to make the move to writing books?

I have published so many short stories over the years, and written for television, worked as a journalist, and while I always dreamed of writing a novel, I hadn’t found a way to do that. Then I had a really gruesome time in my personal life, a lot of loss, illness. I had emergency surgery on my throat and had to communicate through a notepad for a while. It was that moment where every area of your life is just a wreck. I wanted to actively crawl my way out of my own head, let something good come out of all the horror. So then Joe was born.

What are you reading at the moment?

My next two are The Hunger by Alma Katsu and Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson. I just finished Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, which was hard because I was not ready for that one to end.

 

 

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