Shari Lapena chats about her unputdownable new thriller Everyone Here is Lying
 More about the book!

After an altercation with her father, nine-year-old Avery Wooler goes missing from her home in Stanhope – and all eyes are on Dad.

Author Shari Lapena chats to The Penguin Post about her thrilling new novel, Everyone Here is Lying, and what draws her to writing about domestic bliss gone wrong.

‘There are infinite possibilities of how various relationships can go wrong. I love to explore that.’

Avery Wooler, the nine-year-old girl who goes missing in the novel, is seen as a troubled child. What made you want to tap into this level of dysfunction in a child?
I wanted to get away from the trope of the perfect child, that everyone loves, being abducted. I wanted to explore how difficult parenting is for parents of a child who is different, who is far more challenging and problematic than the norm. I wanted to look at how it affects them, and their marriage; what it might drive them to. And also, how people might look at them differently; as suspects.

You’re a doyenne of domestic fiction. What is it about domestic life (and the dysfunction of it) that appeals to you so much?
I love looking at close relationships and what can go wrong in them. Really, there are infinite possibilities of how various relationships can go wrong. I love to explore that. I’m fascinated by psychology.

Everyone Here is Lying is set in the fictional town of Stanhope. What is it about small towns and the need to keep up a façade, no matter how false it might be?
Stanhope has all the elements I wanted for my story – small, but not too small, close to the countryside and so on. I’m interested in facades of all kinds. I don’t think you need to be in a small town to find people hiding who they really are. It’s part of human nature to present different aspects of yourself as circumstances require. The benefit of a small town, or one particular street, as in this book, is that people are connected in a way they might not easily be in a large, anonymous city.

We follow several different characters throughout the novel. What made you decide to write from so many perspectives?
I generally like to write from several different perspectives. I discover my story through writing it, and I think I do it by getting deeply into my characters. I find my characters drive the story, through their (usually bad) decisions and actions, and I like to get deep into their points of view for that to happen. I also like to keep readers on their toes and play with what information I’m sharing and holding back, which is fun to do if you have different points of view.

Who is your favourite character in the book, and why?
I usually don’t have a favourite character in any of my books. I write from several points of view, so I get right into the heads of many of my characters. But in this book, I found Nora’s husband, Al, especially fun to write.

What do you think is better for families: keeping secrets, or radical honesty?
I’m one for telling the truth. White lies, to save someone’s feelings, are fine. But I don’t think lying, or manipulating or hiding the truth, is ever really a good idea. (I mean, just look at what happens in my books!) But then, I don’t really have anything to hide. I especially don’t think it’s good to lie to children, to tell them that everything is fine, when it isn’t. Children deserve the truth, and just need to be assured that everything is going to be okay; that they’ll be okay, no matter what might be happening.

What are you hoping to convey with Everyone Here is Lying?
I just want to write a really gripping story that makes my readers keep turning the pages. But I also want them to think about the different situations people face and understand how people in certain situations might make the bad decisions that they do, and how easy it is to judge others, perhaps wrongly.


Everyone Here is Lying is out now.

This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine about books for book lovers from Penguin Random House South Africa.   

Categories Fiction International

Tags Everyone Here is Lying Interviews Penguin Random House SA Shari Lapena The Penguin Post

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