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Twisty, Chilling, Smart: Q&A with Robyn Harding on Her Pretty Face

July 17, 2018

About the Author

Robyn Harding is the author of several books, including The Party and Her Pretty Face, and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BritishColumbia with her husband and two children.

Purchase a copy of Her Pretty Face here 

 Her Pretty Face is inspired by the story of Canada’s most notorious female serial killer. What was it about her story that caught your attention and made you decide to write this book?

Like everyone in Canada, I was horrified by the crimes committed by this woman and her husband, but it was her life after she was released that sparked the idea for this book. This woman went on to marry and have children who eventually went to primary school. When the parent community found out about the murderer in their midst, they panicked, and it became a media sensation. This woman, who had brutally killed several people, was now volunteering on field trips and hosting playdates! I have two kids. For many years, my life orbited around their primary school. I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done if I found out that another mom, a friend even, had this kind of secret. I decided I wanted to explore this scenario through fiction.

One of your characters is a violent sociopath. What kind of research did you do into murderers and their psychology? Did you learn anything new or surprising?

I did a lot of research into how sociopaths function as friends, partners, even parents. It was surprising to me that many sociopaths are able to have stable relationships. I wanted to explore how a person with no conscience, and no moral compass, behaves as a friend, a wife, and a mother.

 Frances is struggling in her role as a stay-at-home mum. The difficult side of motherhood is often glossed over in the media, so as a mum yourself, was it important for you to write a story that touches on the harder parts of the job?

Absolutely! When I first had kids, I was a working mum, trying to juggle a career and toddlers and all the household duties. Then, after I sold my first novel, I was able to work from home, so I struggled with isolation, frustration, and boredom. I adore my children, and they are the greatest joys of my life, but it doesn’t serve anyone to pretend that motherhood is a bed of roses. For some of us, it’s really tough. But it’s worth it.

 Her Pretty Face could definitely be classed as your darkest work. How did you find the move from writing light-hearted books to more serious ones? Why did you make this shift?

I wrote humorous women’s fiction for many years and I really enjoyed it. But, at a certain point, I realized that fewer people were reading this genre (or, at least, my contributions to this genre). I have always read darker material, but I wasn’t sure that I could write it. I had the idea for “The Party” so I decided to challenge myself to tackle a dramatic subject. It was tough at first, but then I started to enjoy the strife and ugliness, the twists and turns! I seem to be getting darker with each subsequent book!

 What books are you enjoying at the moment?

One of the greatest perks of being an author is that I have SO many books to read! My publisher sends me books and I often exchange with other authors. Right now, I am reading Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. I’m loving it. She is such a talented writer and a compelling storyteller! I’ve got Three Days Missing, a thriller by Kimberly Bell on deck, followed by The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware.




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