Please welcome guest Edwin Hill, author of Little Comfort!
Tell us about your main character.
The main character in Little Comfort is Hester Thursby, a librarian who finds missing people on the side. She’s hired by a woman named Lila Blaine to find Lila’s long-lost brother, Sam Blaine, who went missing about ten years earlier as a teenager. Using her research skills, she tracks Sam down relatively quickly. The story isn’t about the process of finding Sam, a sort of Tom Ripley-like chameleon, but more about the aftermath of what happens when you find someone who really, really doesn’t want to be found.
What I like most about Hester is that she’s tough and independent. Even though she’s only about four-foot-ten inches tall, she’s inspired by characters like Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, characters who face danger head on. Hester has spent a lifetime surviving, and the events in this story are no exception. Hester has to call on all her intelligence and strength as she goes head to head with Sam in a cat and mouse game of survival.
What inspired you to write Little Comfort?
I wrote another book about twenty years ago, found an agent, and then it never sold. It was a discouraging experience all around, and I gave up on writing for a few years. Then I read Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series, which was was a revelation for me. Those books are funny, exciting, and full of deeply flawed, fully developed characters. They’re also set in the world of crime. That was exactly what I strive to achieve with my own writing, so seeing someone else do it so flawlessly helped bring me crawl out of my self-imposed writing shell.
At the same time, the Clark Rockefeller case made headlines. For anyone who doesn’t remember, Clark Rockefeller was a man who claimed to be a member of the Rockefeller clan and married a wealthy woman. When his story began to unravel, he went on the run with his young daughter. It turned out that his actual name was Christian Gerhartsreiter and, after he was caught, the police linked him to a murder of a couple in California. I thought that story was a terrific launching point for a novel, and from there, I created Little Comfort, which is a dark, psychological thriller about a man who infiltrates a wealthy Boston family and the woman who stops him.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out as a writer?
One of the great things about the crime writing community is how accessible and kind everyone is to each other. I’ve been amazed by the offers from people who have been generous with their time and advice (and blurbs!). I spent a lot of time trying to do this whole thing on my own, and I’d tell any new author that it doesn’t have to be that way. Ask for help from anyone and everyone. Writers are generally a very generous crowd, and if you ask, they’ll come through.
What advice would you like to give Hester?
Hester is hard on herself, and I’d tell her to give herself a break. She’s doing a pretty good job in an extraordinary situation.
What advice would Hester give you?
She’d tell me to toughen up. I could be hunting down serial killers in the wilds of New Hampshire with nothing to wear but a pair of Little Mermaid pajamas instead of sitting in front of my computer playing with my imaginary friends.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
I couldn’t host a dinner party without Agatha Christie. Like so many crime writers, she is who got me into this mess in the first place (you can read more about that on my website [link to: https://www.edwin-hill.com/about-edwin/]). I also love Louise Penny, both as an author and as a person. I’ve had the opportunity to meet her a few times, but it would be wonderful to spend an evening chatting. Not only did Kate Atkinson and her Jackson Brodie series help me return to writing after a long absence, but she wows me with what is possible with the written word. I’ve always been inspired by what Patricia Highsmith did with words and characters, and I love (and attempt to emulate) what she did with Tom Ripley. Megan Abbott would be fun to invite as well. I’ve enjoyed her books immensely, plus, I’ll admit it, I want to hear about her recent time in Hollywood. I can’t be the only guy at the table, so I’m asking Bruce Robert Coffin to join me too. Not only do I love his John Byron series, but I also can’t get enough of his tales of being a real-life detective in Portland, Maine. I am stretching this list to add two more authors: Shawn Reilly Simmons writes the Red Carpet Catering Mysteries, including her latest, Murder with all the Trimmings. Not only is this a fantastic series (and Shawn a terrific cook) but in a world of introverted writers, it’s always great to have an extravert at the table, and Shawn knows how to keep a dinner conversation moving! Also, LA Chandlar writes the New York City Art Deco Mystery series, which is set in such a intriguing time in our history, and LA knows how to throw a good party!
What’s next for you?
I just handed in the second book in the Hester Thursby series to my editor. It’s called The Missing Ones, and it takes Hester to an island off the coast of Maine after she receives a mysterious text message. I suspect most people who read Little Comfort will leave that book with a burning question about a very specific character, and this book attempts to answer that question, at least in part. The island is called Finisterre Island, which is fictional, but it’s based on a combination of Monhegan Island, which is located about eight miles off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, and Peaks Island, which off the coast of Portland.
The third Hester Thursby mystery is due in December or 2019. Time to get started!
Edwin Hill is the author of the Hester Thursby Mystery Series. He was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and spent most of his childhood obsessing over The Famous Five, Agatha Christie, and somehow finding a way into C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe. After attending Wesleyan University, he headed west to San Francisco for the original dotcom boom. Later, he returned to Boston, earned an MFA from Emerson College, and switched gears to work in educational publishing. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts with his partner Michael and his favorite reviewer, their lab Edith Ann, who likes his first drafts enough to eat them.
Visit edwin-hill.com to learn more.