Hallie Ephron is not only a New York Times bestselling author, she’s a loyal supporter of the New England crime fiction scene. That made me doubly bummed that I had to miss her local launch for the brand new Careful What You Wish For at our great local indie, Brookline Booksmith, due to longstanding dinner plans with hard-to-schedule friends. However, I do have a copy of this new domestic suspense book, and seeing as how it centers around a woman obsessed with neatening (which I’ve been trying to do), I know that I’m going to love it. More reason to procrastinate!

How does a book start for you?

Often it starts with a “What if…” – and of course the question is usually inspired by personal experience. So, for CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, it was What if a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives is married to a man who can’t pass a yard sale without stopping. And yes, I am married to lovely man who’s wedded to his stuff and spends his Saturday mornings, rain or shin, yard sale-ing.

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

The packrat spouse. I wrote along and wrote along, unsure about whether he was a good guy or a bad guy. I didn’t know the answer for sure until I’d written the final scene.

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

Part of the story is set in a storage facility I call “Inner Peace Storage.” Tongue placed firmly in cheek. It has a storage unit that a widow didn’t know her husband had rented until after he died. The widow hires Emily Harlow, the professional organizer and protagonist, to dispose of its contents. That turns out to be an impossible task for a number of reasons, not the least of which is what the dead husband was storing there. (No severed heads.)

What are you working on now? 

I’m noodling around with an idea for a new novel but it’s early days. Mostly I’m on break working on essays and short pieces.

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

What did I learn, writing the book?

I learned a lot about why so many of us find ourselves at the mercy of our stuff. I realized what distinguishes a collector from a packrat from a hoarder. And I’m still puzzling over the dynamics of a marriage in which one spouse is inured to clutter while the other is not. 

HALLIE EPHRON is the New York Times bestselling author of Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me, There Was an Old Woman, Night Night, Sleep Tight, You’ll Never Know, Dear, and Careful What You Wish For.  (Read the starred PW review here.) She is a five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, as well as for the Anthony and Edgar Awards. http://hallieephron.com.