Q&A: Aimee Molloy, Author of THE PERFECT MOTHER
Harper; May 1, 2018
Summer’s first buzzy psychological thriller is officially here! THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy is on sale today, and it's everything your summer reading list needs: smart, addictive, binge-worthy entertainment. Bonus: Kerry Washington is slated to star in its film adaptation! I loved every page of THE PERFECT MOTHER, and am confident you’ll find it just the kind of read you’re looking for to usher in the summer months. I’m thrilled to welcome Aimee to CBTB today to talk all things THE PERFECT MOTHER, from her emotional connections to the women who take center stage in the book to a little glimpse into movie adaptation process and a whole lot more.
I absolutely loved THE PERFECT MOTHER when I read it earlier this spring. You can catch my full review of the book here, in which I write:
Before we dive into this Q&A, I also want to give a special shout-out to Aimee’s dad. In what will probably go down as the coolest coincidence to happen to me through this blog, I was totally honored to learn that he is a long-time reader of CBTB. What a wonderfully small world it is, that the father of the author of a book I loved happens to read my blog! I’m so appreciative of his support of Crime by the Book. Thank you for reading CBTB, Aimee’s dad (and I’m sorry I don’t know your first name!). Cheers to crime fiction bringing us all together. And many thanks to Aimee for taking the time to answer my questions about THE PERFECT MOTHER! Without further ado, let's dive in to today's featured post...
About THE PERFECT MOTHER:
A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.
When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.
Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother is a "true page turner." —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors
Author Q&A: Aimee Molloy
Crime by the Book: First things first - thank you so much for taking the time to share a behind-the-scenes glimpse into THE PERFECT MOTHER with CBTB readers! I’m such a fan of this book. Let’s start at the very beginning: can you tell us, in your own words, a bit about THE PERFECT MOTHER?
Aimee Molloy: Thank you for hosting me! I first have to say that my father—an avid reader of crime fiction—is a long-time fan of your blog. CBTB is the first place he goes for recommendations, and I’m sure that seeing an interview with his daughter is going to make him fall out of his chair (get up, dad!).
Now, the Perfect Mother is a psychological thriller set in the early days of new motherhood. A group of new moms who become friends decide when the babies are six weeks old to go out for a drink. That night, baby Midas is taken from his crib after his babysitter falls asleep on the couch. The book takes place over the next thirteen days and it follows three women—Francie, Colette, and Nell—who become increasingly determined the police are screwing up the investigation, and increasingly determined to do whatever it takes to find Midas before it’s too late. While the book is very much a quick-paced mystery, it is also—I hope!—an insightful look at the pressures of modern motherhood.
CBTB: If you had to describe your book in three adjectives, which would you choose?
AM: Fast-paced, skewering, suspenseful.
CBTB: THE PERFECT MOTHER introduces readers to a group of mothers known as the “May Mothers”. There are four “May Mothers” who come to be central to this story: Francie, Colette, Nell, and Winnie. How would you describe these women to someone meeting them for the first time?
AM: Sweet, stay-at-home mom Francie is the glue that holds our group together, mostly because of how much she needs the other members of May Mothers. With a husband who works all the time, no real friends in New York, and no idea what she’s doing, she struggles with the isolation of new motherhood.
Colette is the breezy, home-birthing mom with the cute, adoring partner, the nice apartment, and a successful career as a writer. At least on the outside. On the inside, she struggles with the impossible task of balancing her job, relationship, and work; and her worries about her daughter’s development.
Nell—our tall, sassy Brit—is the one we’d all want to go out for drinks with. She thinks this “advice stuff” is a bunch of malarkey and her approach to motherhood is to take things in stride, have a cocktail or two, and follow your instincts. (Oh, and she’s harboring a really big secret.)
And then there’s Winnie. It’s her son who goes missing, and her that we know the least. She keeps everyone—the other women, the reader—at arm’s length. A central part of the mystery of the book is trying to figure out why, exactly, she’s so distant.
"Not only is the novel a fast-paced thriller but it’s also a feminist look at what it means to be a woman today."
CBTB: While writing these characters, was there one woman you found most compelling or most interesting to write about? Do you identify most (or least!) with one of the May Mothers?
AM: It sounds utterly insane but I love these women like they’re my friends. I’m almost loathe to admit this but right before I turned the book in, I went away to a cabin to take one last look at it. I’ll never forget being in the car on the way there and feeling really emotional, like this was my last get-away with these women who I’ve come to known so intimately—that soon enough, I’d have to share them with others.
Because I was a ghostwriter for many years, early readers have guessed that I’m most like Colette, but I’m not nearly as cool as she is. In reality, there’s a little bit of me in each of these characters. My youngest was just one years old when I wrote most of this, so I was very much still “in it” as they say and I think in writing these women I tapped into a lot of the anxieties I was feeling at the time—Francie’s concerns about the “rules” (breastfeeding, nap schedules, etc, etc); Colette’s concerns about losing her creative spark; Nell’s struggle with going back to work; Winnie’s constant wondering about who had abducted her baby (JUST KIDDING!).
CBTB: THE PERFECT MOTHER injects its story of interpersonal drama with a unique and compelling outside force: a TV personality who becomes invested in providing coverage of the story’s central mystery. I absolutely loved this addition - and I’m so curious, why did you choose to add this very public-facing element to a crime that’s so personal and private?
AM: You’re speaking of Patricia Faith, the host of the Faith Hour, and one of my favorite characters. I’ve become a little bit obsessed with cable news and its impact on our culture, and I had a lot of fun writing her as it allowed me to explore all of that. She becomes consumed with the case of missing Midas, and spends a lot of time casting a light on the behavior of the May Mothers. Why were they at a bar with newborns at home? How much did they have to drink? Is this really what mothers do nowadays? In many ways, she encapsulates the judgment that new moms get from a lot of different places—the internet, baby books, other parents, etc. She just does it in stilettos and tight, lavender dresses.
CBTB: Given the book’s title, it will come as no surprise to readers that this book delves into the pressures of motherhood - new motherhood in particular. What do you most hope readers take away from the exploration of these themes found in your book?
AM: One of the many reasons I’m so happy to have landed this book with Jennifer Barth, my editor at Harper, is that right away, she got it. Not only is the novel a fast-paced thriller but it’s also a feminist look at what it means to be a woman today. My hope is that women will see themselves in these characters, and identify with all the things they’re trying to juggle, and how ridiculous it is what women are expected to do. However, I also think the book will appeal to women who don’t have children, as I also deal with issues all women face, moms or not. For example, nearly every character has been the victim of some sort of harassment, at home or at work, and that harassment has had a life-long impact on them.
CBTB: Readers will be so excited to learn that THE PERFECT MOTHER is going to be adapted for the big screen - and that Kerry Washington is slated to star in the film adaptation! Are you able to share anything with us about the upcoming film?
AM: Yes! For one, despite many requests, they continue to STILL refuse to let me play Kerry’s awkward but charming sidekick. Beyond that, the book is currently in the hands of an incredibly talented screenwriter who is working on the adaptation and I am waiting with bated breath to see what magic she’ll make of it.
CBTB: What are you working on next?
AM: I am about half-way through my next novel, which turns the focus from motherhood to marriage. It’s about a newlywed couple who move to a small town. They buy a Victorian mansion with a checkered past that needs a lot of work. The husband, a therapist, opens an office in the ground floor. The wife stays home, managing the renovation. And then one day, she hears a voice…
Okay, how fantastic does Aimee’s next project sound?! I’ll be (not so patiently) waiting to get my hands on a copy of her next release - and in the meantime, make sure you grab a copy of THE PERFECT MOTHER - on sale today, 5/1/18!
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 1, 2018)
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