THE PERFECT MOTHER: Five Questions with Aimee Molloy

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From nonfiction ghostwriter to New York Times bestselling novelist. . . Aimee Molloy’s journey, like her new suspense thriller, is a story full of twists. 

Molloy might have shocked some people by debuting on the Times list, but one thing’s for certain: she’ll never fly under the radar ever again. Not after dazzling readers and critics (including this one) with her addictive, nail-biting novel, The Perfect Mother, Which is every bit as good as Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins’ (or any other title that has Girl in it) stuff. If you’ve read it, then you know why Molloy is the new Rockstar of suspense, and why fans are already counting down the days until her next book is released sometime next summer. 

If you haven’t read The Perfect Mother, you need to. Especially if you love a good tale of suspense that also connects with readers in a personal, intimate kind of way. I cannot recommend it enough. 

A special thanks to Aimee for agreeing to take part in our Five Questions segment. See the full Q&A below, then make sure to order your copy of The Perfect Mother right away. . . trust me, you’ll be so glad you did! 


TRBS: First of all, congratulations on making the New York Times list! The Perfect Mother is officially a best-seller. What does that mean to you, and how did you celebrate the achievement?

Molloy: Thank you! Honestly, it was such a shock. The New York Times emails the list out to industry people on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and when my phone rang at 5:09, and I saw it was my editor calling, I got very nervous. I heard a lot of people talking and then—literally—the sound of champagne popping, and I knew it was good news. My husband was with my two kids at the playground and when he finally got home an hour later, I had the kids’ favorite movie all set up, and the table laid out with at least twelve hundred different snacks. I put the movie on and my husband and I went out to our little garden, where I opened a bottle of wine and showed him the list my editor had sent. And then we drank ALL THE WINE.

TRBS: This book is terrific, and you had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. How did you come up with the plot idea, and what kind of research did you have to do?

Molloy: After my first daughter was born in 2013, I signed up for September Babies, a new mom’s group in Brooklyn. I was a little skeptical about this initially, but the skepticism dissolved almost immediately. I had no family around to help, and very little experience with infants and September Babies became my lifeline. Though some members met in person, most of our interaction was via a listserve—a place where people asked questions (is this normal…? Should I be worried…? Will they ever sleep through the night?).

I was blown away by the generosity and encouragement the members showed one another. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation, but I envisioned us—a relative group of strangers—as a tribe of women who had banded together, and the question occurred to me: what if, god forbid, one of our babies went missing? I could see the members of the group, black war paint under our eyes, torches in hand, combing the streets until the baby was found. I remember I was riding the subway, my daughter strapped to my chest, and pulling out a notebook, jotting down notes on this idea. A few years later, those notes became The Perfect Mother.

TRBS: What is your writing process like. . . and do you know all the twists and turns before you actually sit down to write the book? 

Molloy: Before I started writing The Perfect Mother, I made my living as a ghostwriter, writing non-fiction books. I always really wanted to write fiction and I finally decided that I would give it a try—but I had one condition. I had to do it in one year. I would turn down all other work and if at the end of the year, I’d written something awful or hadn’t finished, I had to go back to making money. This made my writing process very intense. I wrote all the time—at night, after my kids went to bed. I woke up at 5:00 AM many days, and I wrote nearly every weekend. I always had the end in mind, including some of the twists, but one big twist didn’t actually come to me until I was about 80% of the way in. I often think about this—how blindly I was writing, just trusting in the story, and how grateful I am that it seems to have worked out! 

TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what books are currently sitting on your nightstand to read?

Molloy: I keep a stack of books near my desk that I turn to whenever I get stuck that includes many of my favorite writers: Jhumpa Lahiri, Ian McEwan, Ta-Nahesi Coates. Joshua Ferris, Toni Morrison. I can read just a paragraph and remember what beautiful prose sounds like, and I find that very calming. As far as my current reading: it’s pathetic! Because I ghostwrote for so long, I have a tendency to pick up other people’s writing voice quite easily—that was, after all, the job. So I have to be very careful when I write. I’m now in the midst of finishing my second novel and when I’m done, I plan to do no writing for three months and only read. I’ve been keeping a list, and it’s long. Exit West. The Great Alone. Circe. Red Clocks. Little Fires Everywhere. Sing Unburied Sing. Manhattan Beach. Shall I go on?

TBRS: Lastly, now that The Perfect Mother is finally out, what’s next for you. . . and when can readers expect your next book to come out?

Molloy: I am currently in the midst of writing my second novel. It’s another book of suspense, in which I turn the lens from motherhood to marriage. It’s due to the publisher in a few months and we’re hoping to publish next summer.


 

Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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