In Reyes’s The House in the Pines (Dutton), a woman searches for her lost past while attempting to unmask a serial killer.

What was the spark for the house featured in the novel?

The house appeared in the first story I ever wrote. I was 11 and hoping to win a contest hosted by my local library, and as I was reading a lot of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine at the time, my story took on a similar tone. It was about a girl who gets lost in the woods and comes upon a creepy house with a secret. Years later, while attending Louisiana State University’s MFA program, I sat down to write what would become The House in the Pines. And again the house appeared. This book is, in many ways, my exploration of that house and what it means to me.

What did you learn from the two years you spent rewriting?

There was always a mystery at the heart of The House in the Pines, but my agent encouraged me to make the book more suspenseful. I went about this by rereading books by Shirley Jackson, Gillian Flynn, and some of my other favorite authors and analyzing their approach to the thriller genre. What I found was a collection of tropes, including red herrings and cliffhangers. I then found ways to weave those devices into my own work, and I think the book is much stronger for it.

What did you feel when you heard that the book had become a bestseller?

My editor sent me a Zoom link, so I hopped online and was greeted by not just her but also my publicist, the director of publicity, and the director of marketing at Dutton. The first thing I noticed was the bottle of champagne and the glasses they all held. My editor was the one to say it: “You’re #2 on the New York Times bestseller list!” It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Was it hard to keep secret that the book had made it onto the Reese’s Book Club 2023 list?

It was so hard not to tell anyone! I knew several months in advance and consistently had to remind myself it was a secret. The day the book came out I was glued to my phone, waiting for the moment Reese Witherspoon made her announcement and I was finally free to tell the world.

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