RWS RATING: 4/5 STARS
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 25TH 2019
An odd couple, a missing person, and one big mystery to solve. Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle is a great binge/popcorn read.
Beth Murphy is on the run…
For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.
Sabine Hardison is missing…
A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.
As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. (Goodreads.com)
The relationship between the characters was intense at times and mysterious throughout the whole book. This is a domestic thriller that I actually enjoyed reading, and felt it was far from predictable! The domestic thriller genre has become so popular in the last couple of years, that a lot of the stories out there have a very similar premise, with a very similar outcome to the “mystery”. This makes it hard to enjoy the story when you know what is going to happen, or makes you think “here we go again, another marriage in turmoil”. But, Dear Wife is different – it’s takes on a different kind of relationship dynamic, and the characters within the book have such great personalities that you truly want to know how it’s going to end for them all.
This is great summer read – by the beach, by the pool, or even just sitting on our couch devouring each page wondering what the heck is going to happen next with this couple.
I was very lucky to read this book for Harper Collins Canada, and also ask the author, Kimberly Belle, some questions! Check it out below:
Who’s your favourite author?
I couldn’t possibly choose! I’ll read anything by Harlan Coben or Karin Slaughter or Lisa Unger, but I also love discovering new authors, especially debuts. There are so many fabulous books out there, so many authors putting out great work. I will read anything and anyone.
Favourite book or genre to read?
My favourite book changes depending on the day/minute/mood, but I do read a lot of suspense/thrillers, and I tend toward the dark and gritty. Occasionally I’ll slow things down with a women’s fiction or romance novel, but then I’ll find myself wondering which character is going to end up dead. It’s like my mind craves a suspense plot.
When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?
I can’t point to one moment when I realized books were essential to my life, because they were always there, even when I was very little. I can’t remember a time when I was ever not in a book, when I didn’t have three or four stories going at the same time. What I do remember, however, is the first time a friend expressed a dislike for reading, and I was so confused, and also a little sad. I’m still that way when people tell me they don’t enjoy reading. Think of all the joys they’re missing out on!
What made you want to be a writer?
I’m not one of those writers who penned her first novel in crayon. Writing was something I always dreamed of doing, but for the longest time it fell by the wayside for a job that paid the bills. That job for me was nonprofit fundraising, and it definitely helped me hone my writing skills. Fundraising letters, website texts, scripts for meetings and events…I learned very quickly how to drill down to a powerful, poignant message that tugs at the heartstrings.
And then in 2008, the economy crashed and so did my job. By that point I was pushing forty, and I still hadn’t written that novel I’d always dreamed of writing. I decided to see my sudden unemployment as a now-or-never moment, so I sat down and my computer and….realized I had no idea what I was doing.
I spent the next couple of years learning how to build a story. I took courses, read everything I could get my hands on, found some critique partners and mentors, and then I wrote a book and then another. I sold both to Mira in a 2-book deal, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What inspired you to write your new novel, “Dear Wife”?
Dear Wife was a gift from the writing gods. I had just spent months putting a proposal together for another story when the idea for Dear Wife woke me up in the middle of the night. My eyes popped open and the story was right there, fully formed. I knew my characters, the major plot points, how the story began and ended. While the house slept, I stared at the ceiling and watched the story play like a movie in my head. In the morning, I called my editor and pulled the first proposal, then asked for another week or two to throw together a new one for Dear Wife. Thankfully, she loved the story just as much as I did.
But as for where it came from, Dear Wife is my second book that deals with domestic violence, a subject that was inspired by a dear friend whose backstory is similar to my main character’s in Three Days Missing. When that story opens, she is in the midst of a very messy, very public divorce from a husband who beat her in a very public setting—pretty much exactly what happened to my friend. It’s a fictionalized story crafted around a real-life one, and writing it helped me sort through all the emotions I felt, the sadness and helplessness and anger, while watching my friend go through her divorce. I thought I’d worked through all my emotions until the idea for Dear Wife popped into my head, and I realized I had more to say, this time through a woman who is fighting back in the most brave, kick-ass way. Beth is angry and determined and willing to risk it all for her freedom—all the ingredients for the best kind of heroine.
I think it’s really interesting that you chose to write each chapter from the perspective of different characters. What made you choose this? Was it difficult to write? Or did it give you a chance to really dig deep about your characters?
That’s the way the story came into my head, and honestly (and I’m trying hard not to give anything away here) the only way I could figure to tell it. I wanted the reader to get a glimpse of all three characters and make their own assumptions as to what is going on, and how they are connected. And yes, it gave me a chance to dig deep into all three and find out what makes them tick.
I thought it was going to be difficult writing from a male point of view, but Marcus and Jeffrey’s voices came fairly easily. I think it’s because they’re such sarcastic jerks, and I got to have a little fun with them. Thought they’re each carrying their own secrets, their stories were easier to write than Beth, that’s for sure.
Did you identify more with one character than another?
I always identify with my heroines and put pieces of me in every one, as it makes them easier to write. But in every book, I get surprised by how much I love one of the characters in a way I wasn’t expecting. In Dear Wife it was Miss Sally. She was one of the first secondary characters I came up with, and since she’s not a main character, I got to have a little more fun with her, make her different and funny. She was very loud and vocal in my head, and she kind of wrote herself.
Did your writing process change at all when you began writing your third book? Was going from writing your first to your third easier? Harder? Or different altogether based on the story?
Every book is different and demands its own ways of approaching things, but my process is always the same. I spend months thinking a story through before I write the first word. I start with the basics: character, major plot points, a one or two sentence synopsis, and then I take it from there. I brainstorm, add subplots and secondary characters, fill in and expand on the many blank spots. Once I have a fairly detailed outline, I’ll run it by my agent and editor, who are both brilliant at pointing out all the places it could be better. Crafting a story is a group effort, and their feedback and ideas really help me as I’m shaping the plot.
But even with the outline, I always give myself room for things to change and develop as I write. Sometimes that means adding characters (like Evan in The Marriage Lie) or rewriting chapters from another point of view (a couple of Jeffrey chapters ended up Marcus’s in Dear Wife). But I can make those changes because the bones are already there, both on paper and in my head.
That said, I’ve never – not once – changed an ending. I go into a story knowing exactly how it will end, and with I every chapter I write, I am moving steadily closer.
Why do you think so many readers out there are so fascinated by thrillers/crime fiction? What draws you to this genre?
When I first started writing suspense, I didn’t set out for it to be domestic. But I write the kind of books I like to read, about subjects that everyone can relate to: relationships. Parent-child, husband-wife, siblings. I love exploring the emotions that come along with these types of bonds, mostly because they’re so universally recognizable. Toss in the suspense angle—a lying spouse, a child gone missing—and it’s a what-if scenario everyone can imagine themselves in. That’s the appeal of the genre, I think, that people read it and think, that could have been me.
Can we expect any more books from you coming up?
Yes! I’m currently finishing up a story about a newlywed woman who discovers a woman’s body under their lakeside home dock. The police show up, and in her shock and the pressure of the moment, she follows her husband’s lead and lies about ever having seen the woman—which she did the previous day in passing. It’s not a big lie, and she doesn’t really think much of it at the time, but soon that one little lie turns into an avalanche. As the police close in on the woman’s killer, my main character uncovers dangerous truths about her husband and her marriage, as well as dark secrets that have been simmering below the lake’s currents for years. No title yet, but coming sometime in 2020.
This idea was something I’d been stewing on for ages, a book set in a remote mountain lake town where money plays a big role in the town’s dynamics. My main character’s marriage to an older, wealthier man gives her a rags-to-riches backstory, which reveals unexpected truths about her character. People will break their moral compasses for a host of primal reasons: hate, love, envy, passion, survival—and money.
Do you have any advice for young writers out there?
The biggest advice I can give to any writer is to keep writing. Letter for letter, word for word. Don’t wait for an agent, a publisher, a contract, just keep writing and polishing your craft, every single day. Treat your writing like a job. Set your alarm and go to “work” behind your laptop every day, five days a week, because if you wait for inspiration to strike—or for a story idea to come upon you—you’ll never get anything written. Some days you’ll end with a lot of words, other days you’ll stare at your screen and pull out your hair. In the end, it all evens out and eventually, you have a book.
Thank you, Kimberly Belle for coming on RWS to chat with me!
DEAR WIFE is now available in stores everywhere! If you are interested, this book is now available on my Amazon storefront! No extra cost to you, but it does help support my blog when you purchase it through my link! Take a look!