Ask the Author: Kimberly Belle
What would you like readers to know about you?
I am the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including my forthcoming domestic suspense, Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). My third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. I’ve sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. Keep up with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), Instagram (@KimberlySBelle) or via my website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Stranger in the Lake is a story about Charlotte, a woman who’s left her trailer-park past behind to marry Paul, an older, wealthier man with a gorgeous house on an Appalachian lake in North Carolina. Their relationship is the focus of much small-town gossip, but Charlotte is able to ignore it until a woman’s body washes up under their dock—in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife drowned.
At first, the woman’s death seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage and dark secrets that have been simmering under the lake’s waters for years.
Cristina Alter crowned me “the queen of domestic suspense,” and Mary Kubica calls Stranger in the Lake a must read, an “atmospheric, moody mystery that will have [my] fans begging for more.” Anyone who’s read and enjoyed my previous books will fly through this one, too.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I’ve always wanted to write a book set on a Southern lake. I love the small-town, rural atmosphere, the way the water can be both beautiful and dangerous. It’s the perfect setting for a suspenseful story.
While this one is set on a fictional lake, I modeled it after the lakes around the Highlands/Cashiers area in North Carolina. It’s a place of stunning beauty, where there’s a huge gulf between rich and poor. Wealthy outsiders have come in and completely transformed the area, building golf courses and shops and restaurants and million dollar homes on the lake, and then you have the people who have lived there for generations—the ones flipping the burgers and scrubbing the toilets. This polarity makes for some very interesting dynamics between the characters. When there’s money involved, people’s morals can become questionable, and we see that on both ends of the spectrum, in both Charlotte and Paul. This dynamic is something I really dug into for this story.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
My favorite scenes to write are always the ones with the most action, where characters are running or fighting for their lives. In Stranger in the Lake, these take up the last quarter of the book, as Charlotte discovers the truth about her husband, Paul. I can’t say more without giving a big part of the story away!
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Oh my gosh, how much time do you have? I look up to so many authors –and in all genres. In suspense, Harlan Coben, Mary Kubica, Heather Gudenkauf, Emily Carpenter, Lisa Unger, Riley Sager, and Julia Heaberlin are automatic buys for me. I’ll read pretty much anything, and everything I read has an influence on my writing, from how the author builds suspense to their tight and fast-moving plotlines to the clever ways they lighten up dark subjects with humor. It’s every writer’s affliction; I read with an eye to writing.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
The biggest advice I can give to any writer is to keep writing. Letter for letter, word for word. Don’t wait for an agent, a publisher, a contract, just keep writing and polishing your craft, every single day. Treat your writing like a job. Set your alarm and go to “work” behind your laptop every day, five days a week, because if you wait for inspiration to strike—or for a story idea to come upon you—you’ll never get anything written. Some days you’ll end with a lot of words, other days you’ll stare at your screen and pull out your hair. In the end, it all evens out and eventually, you have a book.
Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including her forthcoming domestic suspense, Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
Stranger in the Lake
Her riskiest move was saying, “I do.”
When Charlotte married the older and very wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her trailer park past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.
At first, her death seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.
But as secrets, and people, from Paul’s past begin to surface, Charlotte uncovers dark secrets that have been simmering under the lake’s waters for years. She doesn’t know what to trust – her heart who knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s desperate to hide.
Some vows are meant to be broken.
Beth Murphy is on the run…
For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning—one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.
Sabine Hardison is missing…
A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.
As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.
Three Days Missing
When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.
Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.
Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.
The Marriage Lie – a 2017 Goodreads semifinalist for Best Mystery & Thriller
Even the perfect marriage has its dark side…
Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.
Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.
The Ones We Trust
When former DC journalist Abigail Wolff attempts to rehabilitate her career, she finds herself at the heart of a US army cover-up involving the death of a soldier in Afghanistan—with unspeakable emotional consequences for one family. As the story of what happened comes to light, Abigail will do anything to write it.
The more evidence she stumbles upon in the case, the fewer people it seems she can trust, including her own father, a retired army general. And she certainly never expected to fall in love with the slain soldier’s brother, Gabe, a bitter man struggling to hold his family together. The investigation eventually leads her to an impossible choice, one of unrelenting sacrifice to protect those she loves.
Beyond the buried truths and betrayals, questions of family loyalty and redemption, Abigail’s search is, most of all, a desperate grasp at carrying on and coping—and seeking hope in the impossible.
The Last Breath
Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated….