Hannah Pittard's The Fates Will Find Their Way plays out a number of possibilities of what happened to a kidnapped girl and how her disappearance affects those around her.
What inspired this book?
I was telling someone about a person I knew in middle school whose sister was kidnapped. And I remembered what terrible children we'd all been—we gossiped about her behind her back as "the sister of the kidnapped." It was real to her, but not to us. I wrote the first 10 pages two years ago and the following summer I wrote the book. Nora is the kidnapped girl, and Sissy is her sister.
Was the real-life kidnap victim ever found?
No. I still look up the case occasionally, but she has never been found.
The reader is never entirely sure which of Nora's possible fates is the true one. What is the final impression you intend to leave with the reader?
I loved Nora so much that I didn't want to commit her to anyone or any place. I would rather have the possibility that she is dead or in Arizona than to answer that question definitively. She can be anywhere.
How would you react to readers who can't deal with the uncertainty?
From the beginning of the book, I knew that I wasn't going to tell what happened to Nora. The fantasies of the boy characters were me trying to figure it out. They had realizations late in life that they should be looking at their own lives, not hers.
What led you to tell the story from so many different points of view?
At first I thought I would be writing the boys as amorphous. For the first 50 pages, I just made up names. But then I started to go back and find names and characters and linked them up. It was almost by accident, but they all had distinct personalities. It helped that when I started I felt like I had one big boy brain. I lucked out that I felt this story so instinctively.
Was writing that many characters at once challenging?
I kept every chapter as a separate document, and worked on each as if I were writing a series of short stories. Each chapter opens with a focal point and circles back to it by the end of the chapter. As long as I had that, I was fine. About halfway through writing the book, I printed out all of the pages and spread them out on the floor to make sure everything worked together. I wrote the ending at that point and it was my lifeline to get through.
Are you working on a new novel now?
I am working on something new, and the narrator is a woman. I like her and hope others will, too. I did the first draft and am now tearing it apart.