Emily Naymark is the author of the Laney Bird mystery novels. Laney’s second adventure, Behind the Lie, will be published on February 8th, 2022.
First of, thank you for taking the time for this little interview! I’m happy to have you here, on this Blog.
When you first wrote Hide In Place, did you expect to return to the hamlet of Sylvan and Laney for an encore?
Great question. When first writing Hide in Place, I hoped to write at least one interesting novel. But as I dug into my characters, I realized there was a lot going on in Sylvan and I became convinced it had more stories tucked away in its dank little basements. When Crooked Lane Books asked me if I was planning a series, I didn’t hesitate.
Ohhh, a series – that word has a sound to it I very much like (being the series aficionado I am)! So are you currently snooping around some dank basements in the search of the next Laney story?
All I can say is that no little hamlet is as pure and isolated from the outside world as its denizens would like to believe. Life is not done with Laney or her quirky kid, and she still has some soul searching to do even as she fights battles and makes sure the bad guys are punished and victims avenged.
Laney’s son is a rather peculiar teenager. How did you come up with a character like him?
Aren’t all teenagers peculiar? Alfie is a good soul trying to find a moral place for himself in the world. He’s had his share of trouble already, even at his tender age. I wanted to write about a person who thinks deeply about right and wrong, but on his own terms and with his own definitions. It’s not so much that he rejects what society at large might consider correct, it’s that he doesn’t see the difference between his own intrinsic ethics and those of the community within which he lives. Ultimately, he’s an outsider, and that makes him an even more difficult teenager than a teen who wants to live dangerously.
Oh yes, right and wrong – two concepts that seem soooo simple at first glance. Until you realize that everyone has at least one own interpretation of this concept (if not two conflicting ones). I liked Alfie for this (although there were a few moments I would have wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him). Can we expect Alfie to play a bigger role again in Laney’s next adventure?
Alfie had an tremendously large role in the first book, Hide in Place. In that novel he was thirteen, and in Behind the Lie he’s fifteen. As for all teenagers, his job is to grow and face outward. I love him as a character and I’d be happy to write more from his point of view, but he might need his own story.
Back to the adults, in this case Holly and Laney – they’re different characters, but both are united by an urge to protect their own family. What about you? How important is family to you, and do you see some of yourself in Laney?
At this point in my writing career, my books have been a sort of internal exorcism. Hide in Place dealt with my fears around my son’s growing independence and my husband’s career as an undercover detective. Behind the Lie is an exploration of how far women go to protect their families. I know many women who have structured their personal and professional lives to better care for their children, often at the expense of furthering their careers. Much like my characters, I put family first. Of course, in fiction I can take this impulse to an extreme, and I had tremendous fun doing it.
That’s great, because I had tremendous fun reading it! But wait – your husband is an undercover detective? I would have a lot of questions to that which I’m sure you can’t answer (because of safety reasons), but I’m impressed. So without going into details about his job – does that have an enormous impact on your family life?
Of course! I’m happy to say he is retired now, but he still knows how to spin a tall tale. If it weren’t for his exceedingly entertaining job stories, I’d never have been able to knit together an undercover detective character. It’s been an interesting life for both of us. He started as a cop before cell phones–when the only way I could contact him was by calling his command. And the first rule of police stations is “you don’t talk about police stations.” So, no matter where he was, whether he was getting changed or having a snack, if I called, he was “out in the field.” Since we lived in New York City, we’d try to meet and have a nightlife after he got off work, but coordinating was a challenge.
He was a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and later worked sifting through remains at the landfill. That was the hardest time. And toward the end of his career, we both just watched the clock until he could be home with us as much as we wanted him to be home.
I write about the toll the job takes on a family in Hide in Place, and Laney continues to face personal difficulties in Behind the Lie.
Behind The Lie was quite the tale, different moving parts that where part of the same puzzle, and of course the personal difficulties you just pointed out. Is there anything you would like to stress about the book in case the readers might not catch onto it?
Not at all! I had so much backstory written about all my characters that it’s impossible for me to tell what a reader might take away or not. I’m very curious to see what people will pay attention to.
I was very curious about Holly’s husband and the reason behind their marriage. To me, it seems he married Holly out of guilt about her sister. But that was just my reading.
You’re not wrong. Emotions are a complicated thing and Oliver was only sixteen when he met Holly. He was still a child in many ways. All kinds of feelings, real and imagined, take hold at that age. At the same time, Holly worked very hard at being lovable, so it’s perfectly understandable Oliver would grow to treasure her on her own terms. But ultimately, every reader will bring their own interpretation. After all, Oliver and Holly’s story is a love story, and all love stories are unique.
For the finish – what’s your favorite drink or cocktail (if you have any)?
Oh! Yes. I’ll give you bonus ones for Holly and Laney.
Me: Bloody Mary. The spicier the better. The best ones I’ve ever had are a toss up between a pickle-based one in a dive bar in Groton, Connecticut (of all places), and a hotter-than-hell-will-burn-the-lining-outa-your-stomach one in a dive bar that used to exist on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Holly: B-52. It’s sweet without being cloying, absolutely delicious.
Laney: She’s a beer and whiskey gal. But if pressed, she’ll do a kamikaze shot.
Oh, Whisky – I like the sound of that! (Personally, I’m either taking it pure – or as an Old Fashioned). But I’m really impressed that your characters have favourite drinks!
Thank you for the wonderful questions, Stefan.
Again, thank you for your time! I wish you good luck and hope Behind the Lie will be only the second in a long list of Laney Bird Mysteries. I’m curious to see what happens next to Laney!
If you want to enjoy yourself like Emilya while reading Behind The Lie, you might as well try to mix yourself a Bloody Mary. Here’s one way to do it, and you’ll need the following:
- 5 cl Vodka
- 2 cl Citron Juice
- 2 Dashes Worcester Sauce
- 1 Pinch of celery salt
- 1 Pinch of black pepper
- 2 Dashes Tabasco Sauce
- 12 cl Tomato juice
If you feel comfortable with it, you can mix up the spices. Roasted peppers would give it a nice (and smoky) flavour, too. Or you use jalapeno salt instead of celery salt.
You can build this drink directly in a highball glass. Put the spices, vodka and citrus juice into the glass and stir until the salt is dissolved. Then add tomato juice, the sauces and ice cubes and stirr again. Enjoy!