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We’re delighted to feature our own Marybeth Whalen, along with Ella Joy Olsen, as they discuss their new books on the blog today.We’ll be back with part two of this author-to-author interview on Monday.

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Case in point, you seamlessly juxtaposed the festive atmosphere of a neighborhood swimming pool in the heat of a small-town summer with a near-drowning.

Many seemingly idyllic scenes added to the ongoing tension. Did you know you were writing a thriller when you put pen to paper?

Or did you have to turn-up the suspense in second or third drafts?

MARYBETH: It’s funny because I still don’t consider it a thriller!

Cailey’s was the only voice written in first person. MARYBETH: I get the question about Cailey being the only one in first person a lot. The fun part about this book was I was able to take several story lines I’d been thinking about for a long time and sort of just throw them all into one story.

Would you consider her the main character or the character closest to your heart? And the only answer I have is I just wrote her the way I heard her in my head. (And yes, it freaks my husband and children out to know that I hear from people who aren’t really there. ) And yes, she was nearest and dearest to my heart and I think that is reflected (perhaps unfairly– sorry, other characters) in the story. Some I saw coming (effective foreshadowing), but many I didn’t anticipate, at all. So some of the things that happen were things I’d been wanting to do in a story for quite a while.

As for hardest to write, I think just making sure Bryte and Jencey were distinct characters was my biggest challenge. Did you plan these plot twists before you wrote, or did they come to you as you explored your characters? I definitely plot my books– but also enjoy the fun of the little surprises that happen along the way too– the things the characters have up their sleeves that I do not know when I sit down to write.

They were from similar backgrounds, both moms, of similar ages, etc. ELLA: If I were to pull a theme from this book, in my perspective, it would be innocence lost, but also new beginnings.

I would call it women’s fiction with an element of suspense.

And yes, I liked creating this idyllic setting while weaving in these “all is not perfect” elements– just to put the reader on edge and point towards what is to come.

I’ve taken some flak for the 4th of July scene being a little rough but that scene is in there for a purpose– to show that, while this neighborhood seems peaceful and sweet, there are some undesirable things going on.