Rebecca Drake’s newest novel, Only Ever You, will keep readers up at night. In it, a child goes missing — snatched from an affluent Pittsburgh suburb…
Only Ever You (available this March!) reveals Drake’s fascination with the best, and worst, of human nature, and is full of twists and turns that will appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Lisa Scottoline.
Recently, Littsburgh asked Drake some questions about writing, reading, and of course, Pittsburgh…
How did you get the idea for your new novel, Only Ever You?
One night I had a vivid dream about a child disappearing from a playground only to return with a puncture mark on her arm. I woke in the middle of the night with my heart racing and quickly scribbled the scene down. In the morning, I read it and knew I had a great beginning for a novel.
What do you find the most fun part of the writing process? What is the most difficult?
I really enjoy taking the germ of an idea and turning it into a full story. It’s fun in the early drafting process, when I’m fleshing out the plot and getting to know the characters and all the interesting aspects of their personalities, and there are still some questions about what’s going to happen to them. A difficult aspect of the process is making sure that there’s enough tension and suspense. Since I know how the story turns out, it can be difficult for me to tell if the suspense is working. It’s also difficult to let go. I’ve come to know the characters and their world and it’s tempting to spend more time with them and just endlessly revise the story.
Has Pittsburgh influenced your writing in any way, and if so, how? (or, will Pittsburghers recognize anything familiar in Only Ever You?
Only Ever You is the first novel that I’ve set in Pittsburgh and the first book of mine that wasn’t set in a fictional place. It was really fun to try and capture the flavor of various neighborhoods, because those distinctions are such a special part of Pittsburgh. I’ve played fast and loose with the geography, creating some streets and places that don’t exist, but I’ve tried to capture the essence of the region.
Have you lived anywhere else?
Yes, many places—I moved a lot growing up. I’m a native New Yorker (born in Manhattan, lived in Brooklyn) and I’ve lived in Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Qatar. Moving a lot makes you very adaptable and also gives you wanderlust—I love to travel. However, I’ve lived in Pittsburgh longer than anywhere else and so I think after 25-plus years here I can claim the right to call myself a Pittsburgher!
What books are on your nightstand?
I always have a stack! Currently, I’ve got Without a Trace by Liza Marklund, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and The Secret Place by Tana French, plus I’m also listening to two audiobooks right now, The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Was there a particular book or author that sparked your love of reading, or writing?
Ruth Rendell (a.k.a. Barbara Vine) was an early favorite—I love her Inspector Wexford novels, but it was her standalones, like A Judgement in Stone and The Tree of Hands, with their interesting exploration of the dark side of human behavior, that inspired me to write psychological thrillers.
Which other writers–from any time period–would you most want to share a plate of pierogis with?
Ruth Rendell, Lisa Unger, Jo Nesbo, Elizabeth George, Thomas Harris, Patricia Highsmith, Tana French, Stephen King… too many to count!
What advice would you give new writers trying to get published?
Finish the book. That’s number one—you can’t sell what you haven’t completed. Also, find other writers and attend writers’ conferences. Writing can be very isolating and it’s nice to find a community of like-minded writers who can support you on your path to publication. There are many different groups, some of them genre specific. For instance, I’m a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, a national networking organization for female (and male) crime writers.
What else have you written, and what’s next for you?
I’ve published three other crime novels, Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, and The Dead Place, and one of my short stories, “Loaded” was included in Pittsburgh Noir. I’m currently working on a new psychological thriller, Just Between Us, that will be released by St. Martin’s Press next year.