Each day this week, I will feature a new Q&A with Ellen Meister (author of SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA), along with a link to one of her stories.

Q & A:

MC: As much as I am excited to have a copy of SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA in my hands, I’m also excited for the release of your second novel, THE SMART ONE. Is there anything you can share about it? What’s different about it from your first novel? What was your inspiration? Was the process of writing it different knowing that you had already sold it?

EM: I’ll answer your last question first. For me, there was a major emotional difference in the way I approached the two novels. I can honestly say I wrote SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA to please myself. And as much as I tried to capture that feeling when I tackled THE SMART ONE, I never forgot that there were others I needed to please. This is such a common phenomenon that there’s a name for it—second book syndrome. I’m hoping that by book three I feel a little more confident and seasoned, and can find a mellower way to blend those two approaches.

The inspiration for THE SMART ONE came from a real event that happened in my home town. A man who had just sold his home was instructed by the buyer to throw away a large industrial drum that was in the crawl space beneath the house. The drum had been there since the man moved in, and he had no idea what was inside. Once he got it to the curb, he needed to open it, because the sanitation department wouldn’t remove it unless they knew what it contained. Image his surprise when he pried off the lid and found human remains!

Forensics revealed that it was the body of a young pregnant woman, murdered some 25 years earlier, but remarkably well-preserved in the airtight drum. She was eventually identified as a factory employee of the home’s original owner, who had since retired and moved to Florida. Police went to question him, and requested a DNA sample so they could determine if he was the father of the unborn child. But before they could execute their warrant, the man committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

As a novelist, this story grabbed hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. So when I decided to write a story about the relationship between three very different sisters, I knew the plot had to revolve around a similar case. Of course, I changed the facts to suit my story, but the influence is undeniable.

Thanks for asking about THE SMART ONE, Myf! It will be released next summer by William Morrow.


One of my favorite stories in one of my favorite ezines. What could be better?

Does it Please You?

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