A few years ago, bestselling writer Wendy Corsi Staub and her agent of nearly 20 years, Laura Blake Peterson, were commiserating about having middle school–aged children with access to the Internet and social networking. Staub observed at the time, “It’s like a stranger’s in the room with your kid and you just worry all the time. It can be a portal into really scary stuff.” A week later, Peterson told her, “That’s untapped territory for a thriller. I’ve not seen anybody explore the social networking thing to that extent.” Staub tells Show Daily, “So The Good Sister (Harper, Sept.) was her idea completely, and I’ve dedicated the book to her.”

The author decided to create a fictionalized version of Facebook in her novel. “I called it the People Portal, and you have Peeps instead of friends. I made up this whole world around it. Cyberbullying is such a hot topic, too, and all of those things come into play.”

In the course of her research, Staub explored several suicide Web sites because some girls in her novel that are being bullied commit suicide. She says, “It was alarming, reading about kids who want to kill themselves. Some people do try to talk them out of it and give them resources for help, but you see kids asking, ‘What’s the most painless way to die?’ or ‘Can you give me a recipe for drugs to take?’ It’s a really dark place to go for research.”

Staub hopes that readers will learn some lessons about the Internet by reading her novel. “It’s a cautionary tale because you never know who’s behind that screen name. You have to remember you’re not alone when you put something out there online.”

May 2013 marks a milestone for the author: her 20th year of being published. Seventy-five novels later, with worldwide sales of more than four million books, the author is still busy at work in her suburban New York home. “When I’m on deadline, I write seven days a week in my office. I just live and breathe it until it’s done.”

Staub signs twice today, first at the Mystery Writers of America booth (2551), 10:45–11:15 a.m., and at Table 15 in the Autographing Area, 3–4 p.m.