Wendy Corsi Staub On The Story Behind “The Perfect Stranger”
I’ve been writing suspense novels for almost 20 years now. While they’re technically branded “thrillers,” they aren’t about super spies or daring globetrotters, the sort of larger than life characters who might expect to find themselves in a perilous situation on any given day. No, I write psychological domestic suspense novels about ordinary people who are going about their daily business, close to home, when they find themselves plunged into extraordinary circumstances. To me, and to my loyal readers who can easily picture themselves in my protagonists’ shoes, nothing is more frightening than life-threatening danger crossing the threshold into your safe haven.
The other most frightening deadly predator I’ve ever encountered in real life is breast cancer. Like an evil sniper, the disease fixed my own family in its crosshairs and began to work its way through like a sniper, robbing us far too soon of my mom, my mother-in-law, and her sister. My sister-in law Stacey is a survivor, diagnosed several years ago through routine screening.
In our family, we didn’t know anyone who had beaten the disease; only three beloved women who had lost their battles. So when Stacey was diagnosed, she was determined to beat it, and found herself turning to online resources –including blogs–for support and information. She’s a fiercely private, even shy, person but she eventually wound up writing her own cancer blog and meeting a network of women who had been in her shoes and were kindred spirits. They eventually became friends and she met some in real life.
That unexpected change in my reserved sister-in-law stayed with me when I set out to write this trio of suspense novels that are linked not by continuing characters or setting, but by the shared premise that you never can be sure who’s lurking online, waiting for you to let your guard down, noting the personal information you share willingly or even unwittingly. The first book in the trilogy, The Good Sister is about cyberbullying on a fictionalized Facebook site called the PeoplePortal. The third, The Black Widow, will be about online dating. This current release, The Perfect Stranger, is set in the blogosphere. The heroine, Landry Wells, is, like my sister-in-law, a breast cancer survivor who begins blogging.
Landry is a genteel southern wife and mother who has always lived her life according to plan, only to have it turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis. You don’t face your own mortality and wage a fierce battle against a deadly disease without being profoundly transformed. Landry has recently learned how to put aside her natural reserve and reach out to strangers, offering—and drawing—strength. Her hard-won battle not only shattered her carefully constructed walls and taught her that there are no guarantees, but left her virtually fearless—which is a good thing, because a new predator now has her in the crosshairs.
USA Today and New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels and has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children. Learn more and order your copy of The Perfect Stranger here.
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