Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets…
In Lisa Unger’s latest novel, CONFESSIONS on the 7:45 (ParkRow), Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.
But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.
Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.
I found the various plot lines difficult to follow at times. The main characters often changed names so that was a bit of a challenge. There were plenty of twists and turns and hidden pasts written into the novel. My overall feeling was the novel was over plotted, but a suspenseful novel all the same. Then again, it may have just been me. Give CONFESSION on the 7:45 a shot.
We got to ask Lisa Unger some questions:
Q: Please give the elevator pitch for Confessions on the 7:45.
A: Selena Murphy is a young mother who is having a terrible day. When she gets on her commuter train home, it stalls, dying on the tracks. The beautiful stranger sitting next to her strikes up a conversation with a confession. Maybe it’s her awful day, or the drink she shouldn’t have had, or the dark of the train, but, whatever the reason, Selena shares a secret of her own. When the train comes back to life and Selena is finally headed home, she’s embarrassed. What would lead her to confess her darkest secret to a complete stranger? She hopes she’ll never see the mysterious woman from the train, ever again. But, of course, she will.
Q: How do the ideas come to you for these bestsellers?
A: Every novel begins with a germ. A little zap of interest that starts me on an obsession for a particular topic. It could be a news story I read, or a sentence I hear or just an image that inspires me. One time it was even a piece of junk mail! Then, if that obsession connects to something larger that’s going on with me, I start to hear a voice or voices.I follow those voices, and they carry me through the narrative.
Q: Can you explain the popularity of the psychological thriller genre?
A: People have a deep and abiding desire, a need even, to understand themselves and those around them. This includes having some insight into the darkest aspects of human nature. Crime fiction is the perfect place to explore some of the big questions people have about what makes people who they are. Also, in difficult times, crime fiction provides a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end where some type of justice is delivered. Not so with the real world. So I think there is some comfort to be found even in the darkest and most suspenseful novels.
Q: There are so many twists in the story. Did you know the ending before you plotted all of the surprises?
A: When I sit down to write, I have no idea what’s going to happen, who’s going to show up or what they’re going to do day to day. And I certainly have no idea how things will end. It’s kind of a crazy way to write a book, but I’ve never done it any other way. I write for the same reason that I read, because I want to know what’s going to happen.
Q: What would you like to do if you were not an author?
A: I don’t know! I’ve never wanted to be anything other than an author. Psychology has always fascinated me, so maybe being a psychiatrist or counselor.
Q: If Confessions on the 7:45 were made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the lead roles?
A: I would cast Scarlett Johansson as Selena and Gal Gadot as Martha. The supporting cast would be important, too, and Anne Hathaway would be perfect as Geneva and I’d love to see Bradley Cooper as Graham.
Q: Which of your books would you like to see televised or produced by Hollywood as a movie?
A: Any of them! Currently, THE RED HUNTER and UNDER MY SKIN are under options. So fingers crossed there! If I had to choose some others, I’d pick FRAGILE or INK AND BONE. I’d love to see my fictional town The Hollows come to life on the big or small screen.
Q: Which came first: the characters or the plot line?
A: The characters, always. My stories always begin for me with a voice, someone with a story to tell.
Q: Why do you love Selena and why should readers root for her?
A: As most of my characters are, Selena is imperfect. The pressures she experiences from the world around her are matched by those she places on herself. She is struggling, but she also knows she has reserves of strength from which to draw to overcome the obstacles she faces, some of which are catastrophic. I think we’re all stronger and braver than we believe ourselves to be, so when we’re rooting for Selena, we’re really rooting for the warrior within us all.
Q: How do you come up with your stories? Is anything based on or influenced by real life?
A: Everything in fiction is autobiographical — and nothing is! If we’re writing from a deep and authentic place, then all of our experiences, our observations, the people we meet, the situations we observe, the conversations we have and overhear, inform our fiction. Sometimes inspiration comes from the news, from travel, from questions I have about people and the world. My fiction is always influenced by my real life but in really layered and mysterious ways.
Q: What was your last 5-star read?
A: I’ve read so many fantastic books recently! GOOD GIRLS LIE by JT Ellison, IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King, and LITTLE SECRETS by Jennifer Hillier are some of my favorite recent reads.
Q: What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?
A: I worked for a publisher before I became an author, so I was lucky to have a lot of insight into the business of publishing. So I suppose I’d like to share what I knew going in that a lot of writers don’t. I knew that the book contract was not the end of the journey, but the beginning of the writing life. And that no matter where you are in your career — an aspiring writer, or a published writer just starting out, or a mega bestseller, it never stops being about the writing. What you do on the page is always the most important element of your career, so never stop trying to get better.
Lisa Unger is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen novels. With millions of readers worldwide and novels published in twenty-six languages, she is widely regarded as a master of suspense.