Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next... to Lily, to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter—and to her captor.
For fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, BABY DOLL is the most tense thriller you will read this year. -- Redhook
Just a few days ago, I reviewed the debut novel BABY DOLL by Hollie Overton. I enjoyed this suspense-filled story about a young woman who had recently escaped from a man who was holding her and her daughter as prisoners. I appreciated how the book delved into the challenges the woman faced after returning home as well as her unique relationship with her identical twin sister.
I am so excited to welcome the author, Hollie Overton, to Booking Mama. She graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about her writing process and the novel. She even provided some great book recommendations!
1. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? Did you always have a knack for storytelling?
It was a bit of a roundabout journey to becoming a writer. Growing up, my mother was our sole provider, so money was tight. When I was seven, we went to the mall, and Mom told my twin sister and I that we could each pick out one item. Ignoring clothes, shoes and jewelry, I settled on a floral tapestry-colored journal. I filled that journal and the dozens that followed with random stories, fragments of conversations and daydreams for the future. I always had a talent for writing in school. I won lots of writing contests, even placed third in the state in a high school journalism contest. But acting was my first love. It was only after years of attempting to tell other people’s stories as an actor that I finally realized I was ready to share my own with the the world.
2. I am curious about your writing process. Did you write BABY DOLL after creating an outline and organizing the plot, or is your writing more organic in nature?
As a TV writer, the process is very structured. You have to outline because your story has to fit into a very specific format. I always imagined that writing a novel would be the same. I was wrong. I didn’t really have a full-formed idea when I started writing BABY DOLL. It was a very organic process. I had been hearing news stories about the three Cleveland women that were kidnapped and held captive for ten years by Ariel Castro. I kept thinking about my sister and what would happen if she were kidnapped and returned home eight years later. I wrote the first ninety pages of BABY DOLL in less than two weeks. It was a bit manic when I think about it. Once I got a little further along, I created an outline so I’d have a solid blueprint writing the last half of the book. It wasn’t structured at all. I’m not sure I’d advise other writers to that way but I enjoyed not being confined by any rules and just figuring it out as I went along.
3. Did you find it challenging to write chapters from different viewpoints?
I loved jumping back and forth between the various characters. There’s something exciting as a writer to be able to explore different character’s perspectives and insights and to really understand what they’re thinking. But I had to make sure that every character had their own distinct personality and their own internal monologue, that they felt unique and different. There are challenges when you’re doing that. I had to really think about where each chapter ended and how emotionally each character would respond. Sometimes I longed to go back to an earlier moment with the next character, but structurally that didn’t make sense. I also struggled initially with writing Rick, the antagonist in the book. He’s an awful human being and after I wrote his first chapter, I questioned whether I should keep writing him. In the end, Rick provided the momentum that the story needed.
4. There are quite a few surprises in BABY DOLL. Did any of the characters or their actions “surprise” you?
I don’t want to give away any spoilers but there’s something that happens at the end of the book that surprised me, a twist I didn’t plan. But it felt completely right. That’s why I enjoyed not plotting everything out. There’s something so satisfying as a writer when a character makes a decision that you weren’t expecting. It’s a total rush.
5. I live only 30 miles or so from Lancaster, PA, the setting of BABY DOLL; and I liked recognizing some of the city’s locales. There aren’t a whole of of suspense novels that take place in or near Lancaster. What made you decide to use Lancaster as a setting?
When I was nineteen and living in NYC, I took a train trip with my best friend to visit her grandparents, who lived in Lancaster. There was something so picturesque and safe about it, the Amish communities and people making candles and picket fenced homes. It stayed with me. When I started writing BABY DOLL and thinking about where I wanted to set it, I wanted a place that felt safe. Lancaster seemed like a town where nothing bad could happen, a place where someone with charm and good looks could hide something darker and more sinister. In some ways, I wanted Lancaster to represent any small town in America, but I’m thrilled that I captured enough specifics to make it feel familiar to a local.
6. Is Novel #2 in the works? Any hints about the plot?
I’ve been hard at work on my second novel, THE WALLS, which will be out next summer. I’ve completed a draft and I’m in the process of editing and revising. THE WALLS is about a single mother who works for the Texas Department of Corrections, handling everything from inmate interviews to chronicling the last moments of an execution. When she falls in love and marries the wrong man, she realizes she must utilize the criminal justice system she knows so well, to get rid of her new husband — permanently. THE WALLS explores domestic violence, the morality of murder, and how far one woman will go to protect her family.
7. And I have to ask because I’m always on the lookout for book recommendations, what are you currently reading? What are some books that you would like to recommend to Booking Mama readers?
I loved Before the Fall by Noah Hawley so much that I read it in one evening. The characters are incredibly well drawn and it’s a mystery that surprised and satisfied me. It’s one of those books you just have to binge. I also just finished Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, a novel about a young woman who lands a job as a waitress at a fine dining restaurant in NYC. It’s a compelling coming of age story, with exquisite descriptions about life in NYC and the struggle making it in your twenties. It encapsulated so much of my life and time in NYC, that I felt envious that I didn’t write it. Next up on my list is The Woman in the Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and The Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk.
Debut author Hollie Overton was raised by her single mother, and Hollie—an identical twin herself—draws on her unique childhood experiences for her first novel, Baby Doll. Overton's father was a member of the notorious Overton gang in Austin, Texas, and spent several years in prison for manslaughter. Hollie is a television writer and resides in Los Angeles.
Giveaway alert: I have a copy of BABY DOLL to share with one lucky reader courtesy of the publisher. To enter, just fill out the form below before July 26th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open for those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!
I am so thrilled to be part of the BABY DOLL tour. Make sure to check out the other tour stops:
Monday (July 11) Hollie Overton stops by NovelNovice.com to introduce Baby Doll and share the personal experiences that inspired the book.
Tuesday (July 12) Hollie Overton guest posts on TheReadingDate.com to talk about being an identical twin herself, and who her favorite fictional twins are.
Thursday (July 14) Hollie Overton – a TV writer for shows such as Cold Case, The Client List, and Shadowhunters – stops by Chapter-by-Chapter.com to talk about the difference between writing a novel and writing for the screen, and how her TV experience helped her draft a suspenseful and multi-perspective thriller.
Friday (July 15) Read an exclusive excerpt from Baby Doll on OnceUponaTwilight.com.
Barnes & Noble
Visit Hollie Overton’s official website
Follow Hollie Overton on Twitter or like on Facebook