Please welcome Hallie Ephron!
Interview with Hallie Ephron
New Mystery Reader:
Congratulations, Hallie, on your new book Come and Find Me; a fascinating look
at the pros and cons of living in the computer age with a personal twist. Can
you begin by telling us a bit about the storyline and where you got the idea for
this new novel?
Thank you Stephanie! Very briefly—it’s the story of Diana Highsmith, a former
computer hacker, now a recluse who works and lives online, who must brave the
“real world” when her sister goes missing.
The virtual world in
which your main character, Diane – aka Nadia – participates in seems to
replicate some real life virtual “worlds” that have a rather large following.
And a world that in this case seems to have a positive impact on Diane. What do
you feel are the pros and cons of participating in such virtual worlds?
You’re right -
the OtherWorld in the book is based loosely on SecondLife, a virtual world on
the Internet today. Corporations like IBM and CocaCola own “islands” in
SecondLife; they hold corporate meetings, train employees, and generally use it
as an extension of the corporate world. Of course there’s also plenty of shady
goings-on like porn.
For some, a virtual world is a place to escape and, some would say, “waste”
hours and hours in la-la Land interacting with with virtual friends who are
actually complete strangers. But for many, particularly for someone who is for
whatever reason housebound, it’s a way to make friends or run a business,
interacting with people who could be anywhere the world.
Unfortunately, you’re not always getting what you see—just for example, the
people behind some large percentage of female avatars in SecondLife are men.
People can disguise themselves in the real world, too, but it’s not nearly as
One of the pairs of pros
and cons regarding connectedness to an almost infinity of others you bring up in
your novel is the loss of privacy on the one hand, and anonymity on the other.
Do these balance each other out in your view?
There’s the risk
of people knowing where you are at a given moment, what you’re looking at, and
who you’re talking to. There’s the risk of being seduced and betrayed by others
pretending to be what they’re not. I’m sure scams are rife. But somewhere like
SecondLife is a particularly dangerous place for someone who is vulnerable and
needy. But for others it’s a great place to escape—like interactive TV. And for
companies using the Internet for corporate training (and authors using it to
talk to readers!) it sure pares away the travel expenses.
One of the quotes you bring up
is how the Internet is the panacea for loneliness (I might be messing this part
up). Is the loss of possible privacy worth it in the end?
thing about the Internet is that it feels as if you are protected, an anonymous
presence, unless you choose to disclose your identity. But most of us have no
idea how to mask who and where you are. And our security systems are only as
trustworthy as the people who set them up for us. An article in the Wall St.
Journal reported, for instance, that a single click on dictionary.com, for
instance, results in 234 tracking devices being stalled on your computer—and
only 11 of those are installed by dictionary.com. I’m sure you’ve had the
experience I have where you shop for a pair of shoes and then the next time you
bring up Google all the ads in the sidebar are for sites trying to sell you
No doubt your latest
would make a great movie, as your first solo did; is the making of your book
into a movie deal something you’d want to repeat?
It would be
fabulous and I’d love it! Lifetime Movie Network made a terrific movie (And Baby
Will Fall) out of Never Tell a Lie. So well acted, and though the ending is
different they were true to the feel of the book.
Before you started writing
novels on your own, you wrote for part of a series featuring Dr. Peter Zak
(which I loved!). Any plans on revisiting that series?
Oh, thanks so
much! I wrote that with a co-author (Donald Davidoff) and I think after five
books we were both ready to move on. So no, no plans to revisit the series.
I have to say, in your last
two novels, you seem to go from an excitement level of 1-100 in seconds; do you
write this way, where the plot overcomes you, or do you (sigh) pause before you
only! For me writing is more what Flannery O’Connor famously described: “Writing
a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair falls out and the teeth
decay.” Slow and sometimes painful. That adrenalin rush is usually the result of
rewriting and rewriting ad nauseum.
Do you ever plan on
starting a series featuring any of these same characters?
though I think it could lend itself to a sequel or two.
You have a background as a
teacher; what would be your best advice for new writers starting out, as a
trying to be flip, but really the main difference between writers and nonwriters
is that writers write. They put the butt in the seat and the fingers on the
keyboard and they work at it. Also: open yourself up to criticism; have people
read your work. We all want someone to read our writing and tell us how perfect
it is, but you only grow by listening beyond the praise.
Were there any teachers from
your past that inspired you more than others?
I took a class
with Arthur Edelstein when I was finishing my first novel. He taught with what
was then the Radcliffe College Seminars. He taught me three invaluable things.
1) Viewpoint (why it matters and how to harness it). 2) Writing scenes. 3)
Giving characters a physical presence. Sounds like “Writing 101,” right? So
basic, and in a well written book these techniques seem effortless and
And, finally, what can
fans expect next?
The novel I’m
working on right now is the story of a young woman and a very old woman, and
it’s set in the Bronx. I know how it begins and how it ends, but right now I’m
in the mushy middle and it’s a mess. But since this will be my eighth novel, I
trust that if I keep at it, eventually I’ll get the dots connected.
Hallie Ephron writes suspense novels. Her latest is “Come and Find Me,”
published by William Morrow. It follows "Never Tell a Lie" which was a finalist
for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and won the David Award for best mystery of
2009. It was made into the movie "And Baby Will Fall" for the Lifetime Movie
Network. A book lover, Hallie is also the author of "The Bibliophile's
Devotional" and and reviews crime fiction for the Boston Globe. Her "Writing
and Selling Your Mystery Novel" was an Edgar Award finalist. Her web site is
www.hallieephron.com and she blogs at