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Q&A with Trish Lundy - The One That Got Away with Murder

By Lucy Shardlow

We are excited to welcome Trish Lundy to The Reading Corner to talk about her new release, The One That Got Away with Murder, released on the 16th April 2024.

Robbie and Trevor Crestmont have a body count—the killer kind. Handsome and privileged, the Crestmont brothers' have enough wealth to ensure they’ll never be found guilty of any wrongdoing, even if all of Happy Valley believes they're behind the deaths of their ex-girlfriends. First there was soccer star Victoria Moreno, Robbie’s ex, who mysteriously drowned at the family lake house. Then, a year later, Trevor’s girlfriend died of a suspicious overdose.

But the Crestmonts aren’t the only ones with secrets. Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl at school, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past of her own, she's desperate for a fresh start. Except when she starts a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie, her chance is put in jeopardy. During what’s meant to be their last weekend together, Lauren stumbles across shocking evidence that just might implicate Robbie.

With danger closing in, Lauren doesn't know who to trust. And after a third death rocks the town, she must decide whether to end things with Robbie or risk becoming another cautionary tale.

Hi Trish! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of my questions on your debut YA thriller novel The One That Got Away with Murder. It really was such a gripping, edge-of-your-seat read!

Thank you so much for having me, and thank you for reading! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 

Can you start off by telling us a little bit about the process of writing The One That Got Away with Murder? Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer? And, how have you found the journey to becoming a published author?

The first inkling of the story that came to me was Robbie. I had this image of a boy volunteering at a hospice facility and that intrigued me, and I think some of it stemmed from my own experience as a hospice volunteer. I worked with a teen volunteer once, and it was surprising because most volunteers were much, much older than us, by quite a few decades at least. So, Robbie and his grief, I suppose, were the first things that drew me to pursuing this story. He was a little bit mysterious and a little bit suspicious, and I thought what kind of character would want to get close to him and peel back those layers of mystery? I developed Lauren’s voice around that. She surprised me because she seemed to be hiding just as much as Robbie and I just knew she had to be the main character.

I’ve always written in some fashion: making up storyboards for my favourite TV shows as a kid, writing poetry, and journaling daily, but I suppose I didn’t really realise I wanted to be a writer until my senior year of high school. A few years later, I had a very encouraging and generous college professor who stressed the importance of showing up for your writing and having a dedicated practice. The muse might not be consistent, but you can be. That’s when I began to really get serious about it. 

The path to publication requires patience and as a newer writer, I was very impatient and I desired instant gratification and publication is often not an instantaneous thing. At least for me! Writing short stories was the beginning of my journey. Short fiction is a beast in and of itself, but it allows you to play and experiment without having to commit to a full novel. I wrote a lot and I published a few short stories, and as my confidence grew a teeny tiny bit, I began to write manuscripts. I queried before I was ready and then I realised I needed to write a lot more, so I spent about a decade writing five or six novels that will never see the light of day before I wrote The One That Got Away with Murder. Actually, I wrote a manuscript that got me my literary agents, but that manuscript didn’t sell on submission, so Murder was the one! I think becoming a published author requires a lot of patience, dedication, a willingness to not be precious; a willingness to be a little bit delusional; some luck, certainly; and a deep love for writing. Writing is my purpose and it brings me joy and seeing how I’ve grown with each story I tell is satisfying. Those things are independent of publishing and they are really just for me.

How did you decide that you wanted to focus your novel towards a YA audience? Do you think there are any differences/similarities to writing for a more adult-based audience?

I love writing for young adults because that was just such a formative, intense period of my own life. I feel very close to my teenage self and she is very accessible to me. It’s easy for me to get in that headspace again. I do think, while things change generation to generation of course, that there are certain timeless truths to being a young adult no matter what era you’re in. It’s often a time for firsts and it’s a time of experimentation and heartbreak and being vulnerable and going through puberty. It’s way too much sometimes. I think young adults are really passionate and curious and I think they like to get invested in things. They’re not as jaded as adults. Adults suspend less disbelief. They take less risks. They reason their way out of things. I think a teen sleuth is going to take far more risks than an adult sleuth because they may not realize how much there is to lose? Or, they may feel like they want to risk it all because the cause is so important to them. That is very exciting to me as a writer.   

When writing murder mystery/crime thriller pieces, what process do you take when coming up with a plot? What part of the book do you start to write first? How do you know what to reveal to the reader and when?

I often know who the culprits are and how the finale plays out. I don’t usually write it first, however, because I like to let it build up in my mind and I savour it! But it does help me plot out the beginning and middle, and it helps me plant red herrings, etc., because I know where I’m going with the story. I’m not a huge plotter. I jot down general ideas and notes for major turning points in the story but I really need to write in the voice of the character to see if they are going to adhere to that plan. I start from the beginning and I’m a very chronological writer! Mentally it just makes the most sense to me. 

I try to pace reveals based on a must-know basis and through a character’s drive and actions. I don’t like to draw out or withhold information just for the sake of withholding, but I do think it has to be earned either from a character’s emotional standpoint or from what a character has done to get to that reveal. I also think you have to realise that your audience is very smart and you need to reveal information at a time when your audience is coming to that conclusion themselves.

For a whodunnit, I love to cast a character in a suspicious light and sprinkle a few breadcrumbs and then switch things up, and suddenly another character seems like they could have the perfect motive or a weak alibi. The reader can keep a little log of their suspects and add clues each time they come across that character, and I think this really does keep things interesting. 

From the moment they hit our pages, I was incredibly intrigued by both Robbie and Trevor Crestmont. Straight away the rumours that surround them, especially when it comes to their ex-girlfriends, truly elevate the suspense of the narrative. How did you find the experience of character development for the Crestmont brothers?

I love a mysterious love interest. Both of the Crestmont brothers hide their own secrets in very different ways and from different emotional standpoints. I think I first began with figuring out who each of them truly cares about, and then how that would drive them to act around others and behave. Is it because they are desperate to protect themselves? Or someone else? Those kinds of questions became very intriguing to me. Each time one of them would appear in a scene, I would revisit how their external actions might be masking what they are really feeling or experiencing on the inside. I think love can drive someone to act from a place of desperation whether that’s from guilt or grief, and I think that’s why the Crestmont brothers are great fodder for rumours.

Although Lauren might be the new girl at school, it quickly becomes clear that she has some secrets of her own and a past that she is desperate to forget. Do you think Lauren’s own experiences help or hinder her relationship with the Crestmont brothers?

That’s a great question. I do think it’s a bit of both, actually! I think if she’d never had a traumatic end to her last relationship, she might not have gravitated towards Robbie in the first place. I think she sort of felt this unexplained kinship with him and it stems from both of their traumas. That definitely impacts Lauren’s decision not to break it off with Robbie immediately upon learning of his own dark past. Because Lauren has been the subject of rumours that have distorted parts of the truth, I think she feels empathy for the Crestmont brothers. They’ve all been outcasts. She knows how awful and isolating it feels. She gives Robbie the benefit of the doubt, if you will, when she decides to spend one last weekend at his lake house—and then that’s the weekend that turns her life upside down for the second time. However, that’s also what allows her to get really close to evidence that could lead to answers for Victoria and Jess. I think it’s a double-edged sword! 

Do you have any plans for any future novels? Would you like to continue writing thrillers for a YA audience or do you have something else in mind?

I do, yes! I’m currently working on a new YA thriller and it’s a bit of a departure in some ways from my debut, but I do think some of the themes might be familiar. And complicated love interests. Perhaps that might be my signature! I just love the genre so much and I do feel I have lots of stories to explore in this space. 

This was such a fascinating read! It brought mystery, suspense and darkness straight to the page. One that I am sure so many people would be interested to read. So finally, where will readers be able to access The One That Got Away with Murder?

Thank you so much, Lucy! I’ve really enjoyed your questions. Readers in the UK can find The One That Got Away with Murder at booksellers such as Amazon and Blackwell’s.   

Trish Lundy grew up in Rochester, New York and now calls California home. Her debut YA thriller, The One That Got Away with Murder, publishes April 16, 2024 from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She is represented by Kristin van Ogtrop and Stephen Barbara of Inkwell Management. Trish also writes for film and TV. She received her BA in English from UCLA, where she fell in love with the craft of writing. She’s worked in the film industry, in marketing, and is also a former hospice & palliative care volunteer.


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