Last year I spent a week stalking Paula Hawkins, the author of The Girl On The Train, the bestselling book of 2015. I interviewed Paula four times over a period of days, starting on etalk, then on The Social, then at a bookstore, and finally I moderated her session at Vancouver Writers Fest in front of a crowd of about 200 people. To prepare for that session, I re-read The Girl On The Train twice. When I read it the first time, originally, it was for entertainment, it was for the mystery. When I read it again it was to appreciate the anger, female anger, where that anger comes from, how it’s represented in her book, what it becomes in her book, through her narrator. I asked Paula about her narrator, an unreliable narrator, some would say an “unlikeable” narrator. The year before, Roxane Gay, in a piece for Buzzfeed, argued for the “importance of unlikeable female protagonists” and Paula, like Roxane, told me that her intention was not to make the reader “like” her characters but to offer to her readers instead someone who was real and human. And, as we know, real, human women are often not believed, too often doubted, so that that doubt doubles up on itself, creating an endless loop of insecurity. In Paula’s story, that doubt, combined with the aforementioned anger, builds to a violent conclusion and I talked to her about how satisfying it was to come to that finale, with two women united in their anger and doubt and exasperation finding solidarity in the end which, ultimately, at least for me, was the book’s best surprise: Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train is a f-ck you to misogyny. Like most writers, Paula didn’t answer directly, because she’d rather you find your answers than give them all to you herself. But later on, when a man stepped up to the microphone during the Q&A and tried to tell her why books written by women aren’t taken seriously (yes, this actually happened), she cheekily called back to that part of our discussion when we talked about the feminism embedded in her novel. And the women in the audience smiled back knowingly.
Which is why I’m so excited to announce the release of Paula Hawkins’ next book. From the publisher:
Into The Water is an addictive novel of psychological suspense about the slipperiness of the truth, and a family drowning in secrets.
With the same propulsion that captivated millions of readers worldwide in her debut, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins unfurls a gripping, twisting, layered story set in a small riverside town. Once again in Into the Water Hawkins demonstrates her powerful understanding of human instincts and the damage they can inflict.
Paula Hawkins says: “This story has been brewing for a good while. For me there is something irresistible about the stories we tell ourselves, the way voices and truths can be hidden consciously or unconsciously, memories can be washed away and whole histories submerged. Then two sisters appeared, and the novel began to form.”
Doubleday Canada will publish Into The Water on May 2, 2017. To celebrate this announcement, and Paula Hawkins, I’m giving away 10 signed copies of The Girl On The Train. If you would like to enter, please email [email protected] with the book title as the subject by this EOD PT Friday, December 2, 2016. Estimated value $30. Standard contest rules apply. Good luck!
Yours in gossip,