Q&A with Alice Blanchard, Author of A Breath After Drowning

You’ve taken some time off from writing, how has this hiatus shaped A Breath After Drowning? What made you want to write this particular story, and what did you set out to accomplish with your return to writing novels?

Life can knock you sideways. The main reason I took time off was that I was deeply affected by the death of my father, who took his own life. At the time, I wasn’t prepared for the effects of such a primary loss, which lasted for years. He was such a sweet, vulnerable man. Recovering from his death was like crawling out of emotional quicksand. When I write, I dig very deep, and the process stirs up pain. It’s like therapy. And sometimes you don’t want to face that pain.

Describe A Breath After Drowning in 5 words.

Someone has been watching you.

What are you currently reading?

Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge. She wrote the most amazing fiction about young women fighting darkness and corruption. Flannery developed lupus, like her father, and ended up living with her mother in Georgia where she raised peacocks. Her epiphanies about human weakness, our mistakes and dysfunctions, are some of the most enrapturing moments I’ve experienced reading books. I just love her.

What draws you to writing psychological thrillers? What do you think drives their popularity?

I’m fascinated by the fear of the unknown. We fear the ferocity of the universe. We fear being swept away in the blink of an eye. We fear that the people we love aren’t who we think they are. Psychological thrillers give us a powerful, primal experience without having to live through it.

How much do you draw on contemporary events in your writing?

Life is infused with contemporary events. You can’t avoid them. As a writer, I draw on my own life—that’s how I tell a story. I write from my dreams and my fears and things I’m passionate about. My fears and my dreams are contemporary.

What do you hope readers will take from this novel?

I’m just honored if they buy my book.

Give us a teaser: what’s next?

I’m writing a witchcraft thriller.

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