Beautiful and Terrifying: Q&A with Louisa Luna on writing Two Girls Down

Beautiful and Terrifying: Q&A with Louisa Luna on writing Two Girls Down

About the author:

Louisa Luna is the author of the novels Brave New Girl, Crooked, and Serious As A Heart Attack. She was born and raised in the city of San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

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Read our full review of Two Girls Down here 

Two Girls Down is a gripping crime novel. Can you tell us what it’s about?

It’s about a bounty hunter-turned-private investigator named Alice Vega who is hired to find pair of missing sisters in a small town. It’s also about the young single mother, Jamie Brandt, searching for her kidnapped daughters, and the wise and measured Max Caplan, the ex-cop who finds himself unable to stay away from the case. The story takes place over the course of about a week, and my goal was for my readers to feel every tick of the alarm clock.

What inspired you to write this story?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly but the simplest answer is that I had a kid, and I felt like I understood something beautiful and terrifying about life. I started writing the book when she was two, and the plot kick-off was pretty much my deepest fears laid out on the page, so I suppose it was therapeutic in a way. Of course I also wanted to tell a good story with unforgettable characters, especially a strong female protagonist, because we always need more of them.

Your novel explores themes of pain, grief, and fear. Did you conduct any research when writing this book to better understand these emotions and how people process the loss of a loved one?

As I wrote above, I pulled a lot from my own imagination to begin with. But then I did read some books about missing persons and children which were all harrowing, deeply sad and disturbing stories. The grief that the parents and family of missing persons/children feel is just bottomless and never goes away. The three books on the topic that stand out in my memory are Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews, The Last Place You’d Look by Carole Moore and People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry.

Two Girls Down is your fourth novel – can you tell us a bit about your journey as a writer?

Now that’s a long story! Briefly: in my twenties, I was lucky enough to publish three fiction books, none of which were thrillers (although the third is sort of a modern noir). The first did okay, sales-wise, the second not so much, and the third really not so much. Then I got a little depressed and stopped writing for a while. Slowly but surely I picked it up again, and then in 2012 I started writing TGD. It took me three years because I wrote it in between a full-time day job and doing mom stuff. I look at the older books now, and while I don’t think they’re terrible, TGD is definitely more representative of what I can do as a writer.

Two Girls Down is a crime novel, a genre that is incredibly popular. Why do you think people love to read crime mysteries? What makes the genre so appealing?

That is such a good question because I’m totally one of the masses who loves thrillers and mysteries. And I think the answers vary, but here’s what it boils down to for me: I think a lot of it has to do with picturing yourself in these situations, imagining what you would do and trying to put the puzzle together. I also think any reader likes a good roller coaster, and if that can be combined with resonant authentic prose, then all the better.

What was your favourite book of 2018, and which book are you most looking forward to reading in 2019?

Oh, this is tough. There were a lot of contenders in ’18, and of course I did not get to as many as I wanted to, but I have to say for me it was The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. I am a super-fan of hers, and what knocks me out about her books is the consistent scalpel-sharp quality of her writing, page after page and sentence after sentence. It’s just a magic trick, what she does with tone and character. Everything is real, every word; I believe it all. I know I’ll never be as good a writer as her but as long as she keeps writing, I think I’m okay with it.

In 2019 I have to say I’m most excited about The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale because IT IS THE SEQUEL TO THE HANDMAID’S TALE. The day that book comes out should be a global holiday.

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                      Synopsis

                      Jamie Brandt was not a bad mother. Later she would tell that to anyone who would listen: police, reporters, lawyers, her parents, her boyfriend, her dealer, the new bartender with the knuckle tattoos at Schultz’s, the investigator from California and her partner, and her own reflection in the bathroom mirror, right before cracking her forehead on the sink’s edge and passing out from the cocktail of pain, grief, and fear.When two sisters disappear from a parking lot while their mother is in Kmart, the devastated family hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched too thin by budget cuts and the growing meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan.Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help, and she will not be denied. With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.
                      Louisa Luna
                      About the author

                      Louisa Luna

                      Louisa Luna is the author of the novels Brave New Girl, Crooked, and Serious As A Heart Attack. She was born and raised in the city of San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

                      Books by Louisa Luna

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