Catherine Ryan Howard found the perfect writing prompt to inspire her latest thriller, Rewind (Blackstone, Sept.): an image from Frank Warren’s PostSecret project. Warren started this community mail art project in 2005, asking people to anonymously send him secrets on homemade postcards, which he then posted on the internet. Howard describes the one that caught her attention. “It was an image of a bedroom and the secret was: ‘I trade hidden sex-cam videos with other Airbnb hosts.’ I thought, what if you were doing that, not because you were a terrible person, but because you have to for some reason—maybe you desperately need the money, or you’ve been blackmailed. And you get more than you bargained for—what if you captured a murder on the tape? You can’t report it without revealing your own criminality. So what happens next?”
What makes this novel unusual is that after the opening scene, each subsequent section is labeled with a symbol for rewind, pause, fast forward, and so forth. Howard explains, “The story begins in the middle, and then it rewinds a bit. At other points it fast forwards—it jumps forward in time, or it pauses, so the whole story is out of order. It’s only until you get to the end that you can piece together everything and reveal the truth.”
This is the author’s third book, and she notes that it was the easiest for her to write. “I knew exactly what was going to happen; its structure is quite unusual because it’s designed as if you’re watching a tape. I had it planned quite meticulously before I began. My previous book, The Liar’s Girl, which was nominated for an Edgar this year, was horrific to write because I took a seed of an idea, and then I sat there and finally started to draft. What I have learned is that I need to plan in advance. The way I describe it: plotting beforehand is like building the house—then the pressure is off. You can go in and do the light bit, which is the interior decorating. So that’s how I see the process.”
This is Howard’s first experience at BookExpo. “I love meeting readers, and I love talking about books. I so appreciate people in the States taking the time to travel to Ireland with me for however many hours it takes them to read the book. And I love being around people who make books for a living, so I’m excited about spending a few days totally immersed in the world of books.”
Today, 11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Catherine Ryan Howard will sign ARCs at the Blackstone booth (1411).