Behind The Book With Wendy Walker

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Behind The Book With Wendy Walker 

My next Behind The Book, is with bestselling author Wendy Walker. Last fall I did a Q&A with the author herself and this year I was able to read What Remains, on Netgalley. What Remains is out now. 

Q: In your Acknowledgements you mentioned Detective Christy F. Girard inspiring many aspects of the main character of Elise. Were you and Detective Christy friends before you wrote the book, or did you interview her before you started writing it? 

A: Christy has been an incredible resource for me over many years with my books. We were introduced by another mother at our children’s school. I had never spoken to her on the phone until I researched What Remains. All of our communications were through email, when we finally spoke, her passion for her work, and the emotional impact that it had on her, were incredibly useful in crafting both the story of What Remains, but also in developing the character of Detective Elise Sutton. When I was promoting the book, Christy came to one of my events and we met in person for the first time! It was so incredible to put a face to the name of someone I’ve come to admire and respect, and who has been as generous with her time and personal journey as a cold case detective.

Q: In our Q&A back in the fall when we spoke about What Remains, you mentioned how much fun you had and it was the third book where it was from the point of view of one character. Do you have the most fun writing from one characters perspective or from multiple characters perspectives? 

A: There are pros and cons with every book. I like writing in first person and in one character’s point of view because I can delve further into that character’s psychology. The downside is that it can be more difficult to keep the story moving and also to build twists. The reader needs to have information along the way but they are only with one character for the whole time! I just finished a novel with multiple points of view, and while it took a little more plotting, the writing process was much faster, and it was easier to ramp up the suspense. But each day that I sat down to write, I had to read a few of the chapters in the point of you I was about to tackle to make sure the voice was consistent. Maybe the most fun is being able to choose the structure for each book and face new challenges!

Q: Since Detective Christy is the inspiration behind Elise, who did you use to create the characters of Rowan, Mitch and the obvious antagonist? 

A:The other main characters in What Remains, Rowan, Mitch, and the antagonist, were all built with the purpose of enhancing Elise‘s story. She needed a partner whom she was very close to, but who was not a romantic interest. She also needed to feel protective of him so that when he is threatened, she is activated. Her husband needed to be someone she loves deeply, but also where that love could survive the affair that he had four years ago. This part of the plot was important and needed to be believable. Right from the start, we get the sense that their relationship is based on a connection between them that is separate from her work. This allowed me to drive a wedge between them as the story is unfolding. The antagonist needed to have a certain kind of psychology and emotional vulnerability when he enters the store and is changed by the events that happen there. I needed him to stand out physically so that he would be noticeable. And I needed him to be very smart and capable of pulling off the things that he does when he becomes obsessed with Elise. Of course, from there, the characters take on personalities, which is a subconscious process for the most part, and probably a combination of many years reading and viewing stories, and just being in the world.

Q: What do you hope readers get from reading What Remains? 

A:I hope that readers will find the book incredibly suspenseful and page turning! While I do explore trauma, and the psychology of trauma recovery, both for Elise and the antagonist, I structured the chapters to keep the plot moving. I also hope they will identify with the emotional journey that Elise goes through, have empathy for her, and feel the many shades of gray that are part of the human experience. And mostly, I hope they just love it!