We were pleased to ask author Ginny Myers Sain some questions about her atmospheric and thrilling, Dark and Shallow Lies. Her answers are fantastic!
Can you please describe your novel in a few sentences?
DARK AND SHALLOW LIES is a book that asks, “How do you keep a secret in a town full of psychics?” It’s about a girl who goes back to her hometown deep in the Louisiana bayou, which just happens to be the “Psychic Capital of the World,” determined to solve the mystery of her missing best friend. Along the way she uncovers secrets that will challenge everything she thought she knew about the town she calls home and the people she loves most.
The setting is incredibly atmospheric and there is a certain sense of magic and mayhem in the air around La Cachette. Where did the inspiration for this place come from?
La Cachette itself is not a real place, of course, but the town was very loosely inspired by two actual places. The first is the tiny town of Cassadaga, Florida, which I was lucky enough to stumble upon during a road trip across the sunshine state. Cassadaga really does bill itself as the “Psychic Capital of the World.” It has a little town square lined with astrologists and tarot card readers and palm readers. All kinds of psychics and mystics. However, Cassadaga was a bit too accessible for what I had in mind. It’s right on a major highway. I needed a place that was more cut-off from the world. Somewhere a little harder to get to…and to escape from. I had spent a lot of time in Louisiana over the years and had fallen so deeply in love with the swampy landscapes, the culture, and the people, and my mind went back to a little place called Pilottown, which served for years as a home to riverboat pilots on the Mississippi River. It was accessible only by boat and it was built on a boardwalk at the edge of the river. So that became the inspiration for the geographical location.
The characters are so well written and leap off the pages- do they bear any resemblance to people in your life?
Like most writers, I tend to build characters out of pieces of people I know. None of the characters in this book are based off of real people in my life, but they all have bits of pieces of real people.
How hard was it to balance the eeriness of the setting with the twisting plot?
The plot was the hardest part. Mysteries are very tricky to put together. It’s a balancing act of giving the reader enough information to keep them interested….without giving too much away too soon. Since I’d never written a mystery before, that was something I really had to spend some time working out. Since I love the bayou so much and spent a lot of time there, the setting came to me pretty easily. The plot was much harder!
As a debut novel, this is phenomenal – how did you find the journey to publication?
People always ask if I had a long, slow journey to publication or a quick one, and I always answer that it was slow until it was quick. It took me about four months to write the book, another six months or so to revise it, and then I started querying agents. That was the part of the process that took the longest, but once I signed with my agent, things happened very fast. I’m so grateful to everyone I’ve worked with in this journey, in the US and the UK. It was just an amazing, whirlwind experience.
Was there anything that had to be cut from the book?
There was a minor subplot that I cut pretty early on in the revision process, before I ever signed with my agent. It just wasn’t adding a lot to the story, and it was eating up a lot of space on the page. So it had to go. Other than that, there wasn’t really anything that was cut.
The cover itself is very atmospheric – did you have any input into what might appear?
Isn’t that cover just the best? I love it so much, and I feel like it just makes the book. My designer at Penguin was Kristie Radwilowicz and I am so grateful for her artist’s eye and attention to detail. I was so glad when Electric Monkey decided to use almost the exact same cover for the UK edition. The Penguin design team did ask me to send them some images I liked, and they made a mood board for the book, which was really fun to see. I think they sent me four or five cover mock-ups to look at, but everyone involved knew as soon as we saw this cover that it was the one. I love that it’s so beautiful…but also a little bit decayed and creepy. And I love the alligator eye!
Are you writing anything else at the moment? Are you able to share anything about it?
I just sent book two off to my editor! So, yay! It is another YA thriller with some paranormal elements. It’s a standalone, so not related to this book at all. It’s a totally separate world, characters, setting, etc. But it does have some similarities, in that it is also a very atmospheric setting, some fantastical or supernatural elements, and complicated character relationships. It should be out sometime next year!
Dark and Shallow Lies is published by HarperCollins and was published on 2nd September. It is available now from book retailers.