Tara Laskowski burst onto the consciousness of many readers with her Agatha Award-winning short story, “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” (from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine). This fall (Oct. 1!), we’ll get more Tara, as Graydon House releases One Night Gone, her first full-length mystery. Having met Tara at Malice Domestic (where she won that Agatha), I am thrilled to host her here today.

How does a book start for you?

It’s always different, I think! Sometimes it’s a ‘what-if’ kind of question that nags at me, but I don’t quite know how to answer the question. Sometimes it’s a character’s voice in my head. Sometimes it’s just a situation or a setting—wouldn’t it be cool to write a book that takes place during the off-season of a beach town? I think the important thing is to always be on alert for ideas and write them down fast, before you lose them.

Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?

I can’t actually talk too much about this without giving away some key details in the novel, but I will say that about half-way through the writing of my book, I realized that who I thought was going to be the killer was not actually the killer. And that really, really surprised me!

When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?

It’s [One Night Gone, that is! Tara, you’ve got to get used to saying your title!] set in the fictional town of Opal Beach, a wealthy beach town in New Jersey. It’s a small, exclusive place that’s wary of outsiders. I really wanted to write a novel set in the off-season of a beach town, because I find that such a fascinating dynamic, the way a community works when they lose half their population after the tourist season ends. But because the novel takes place in two different timelines, I also got to write about a beach town during the height of tourist season! So I got the best of both worlds, I guess.

What are you working on now?

Book two! Which is terrifying. I think it’s harder to write a second book after your first is published because there’s so much more pressure. And I have no idea what I’m doing! So please keep all your fingers and toes crossed that one day readers will be reading it.

Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?

You should’ve asked me for my credit card and social security numbers. I’m in a generous mood today, and you could’ve scored big. 😉

Art, Dash, and Tara at Malice Domestic 2019

TARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a Best Book of 2017 by The Guardian. Her debut novel One Night Gone will be published in October 2019 by Graydon House Books. She is the editor of the online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly, an Agatha Award winner, and a member of Sisters in Crime. A graduate of Susquehanna University and George Mason University, Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia.