Tara Laskowski has won an Agatha Award and received praise for her short fiction, but October 1 marks the publication of her debut novel, One Night Gone.
Here’s Tara on the transition from short fiction to writing a novel:
I have always considered myself a short story writer. A very very short story writer, to be specific. I feel most comfortable at about 745 words, two pages max. I’ve been editing a journal of flash fiction for nearly 10 years, where we publish stories that are 1000 words or less, so I’ve been trained to think at that length. I like tiny moments, small epiphanies. I like seeing a story in its entirety.
But then after I published two short story collections, I felt like I needed a next step. A new challenge. I immersed myself in my book, determined not to come up for air until I had a first draft. The alluring Siren calls of flash fiction ideas tried to beckon me away, but I ignored them as best I could. If I had an idea for a short story, I wrote the idea down in my notebook and carried on with the novel. I was able to complete the draft of my book, One Night Gone, in a little over a year. I’d written a novel, bird by bird, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. Somewhere along the way, I’d gotten into a rhythm with it. Dare I say it—I even liked it?
The setting is really a winner in One Night Gone. How’d you get there?
I was born on Halloween, and creepy is my thing. So I knew I wanted to write something that would spook people, but not in the traditional run-down haunted house in the middle of the woods kind of way.
My husband’s parents have a beach house in North Carolina, and we all went there for Thanksgiving one year. It was so lovely and also a bit eerie to be in a beach town during the off season, and that’s really what sparked the idea for this book.
I also really like houses, and the energy of houses, and I wanted to have a spooky house that doesn’t really appear, from the outside, to be spooky at all. A lavish beach house felt like the right match there–a lavish beach house in the off season of a tourist town. Nothing spookier than the sound of wintery ocean wind beating against the windows in a deserted town, right?
The book follows two women, in different eras, in the same town; one’s disappeared and one finds herself pulled into finding out where she went. How did you decide to make the “missing girl” such a big part of the story?
In a lot of books about missing or dead women, you never really get to hear the missing woman’s story. You may have a character talk about her and how she was, but you often don’t really get to be in her head or understand what led to her troubles. So one thing I wanted to do was to make sure that our victim has a voice. That even though she was gone, she was still there.
Everyone’s stories are important. That’s the core message in the book—everyone’s life matters—and I purposefully told the book from two points of view because I wanted to make sure my readers knew Maureen’s story. I wanted her motives and hopes and flaws to be understood, so that readers really feel something for her when they find out what happened to her.
Longer conversations with Tara can be found on The Big Thrill, Auntie M Writes, and ElenaHartwell.com, and an essay about the inspiration from the book can be found on her website. Books are available at your favorite booksellers. Amazon | B&N | IndieBound