Nashville writer Rea Frey had quite a background as a journalist and nonfiction author before setting herself a challenge to write a novel in eight weeks. She finished in a month, though the rewriting and editing processes took a while longer. That debut novel, Not Her Daughter, a thriller about the kidnapping of a child, excited readers and had its film rights quickly acquired. Frey has returned with her second thriller, Because You’re Mine, which again mines the territory of parental anxiety. The story centers on a Nashville mother and her son, who has sensory processing disorder. They struggle to deal with the challenges of his condition and single parenthood as dark forces approach.
What follows is an edited excerpt from an interview conducted for WYPL-FM’s Book Talk program. (Click here to listen to or download the full podcast.)
Chapter 16: Rea, Because You’re Mine begins with a prologue where the first line is, “She is going to die,” and over the next couple of pages, you leave this woman unnamed. Talk about setting some high stakes and suspense for us.
Rea Frey: I remember when I first got the idea for this book. It started with this scene with this woman. I knew someone was going to die, and I wanted to leave a little bit of mystery for the reader. I kept seeing this woman kind of toppling over a mountain, setting the stakes really high and hoping that the reader is obviously going to want to jump right in and want to know what has happened to this woman. We go way beyond that, but it was a really fun kind of startling scene to start the book with.
Chapter 16: You have the scene in your head, how do you back-engineer for the week earlier?
Frey: I want to backtrack a little bit. When I got the idea for this book, the question that I had in my mind was, what would happen if you died and left your child without a guardian? So I was at the time raising an only child around a lot of other mothers who are raising only children. We would sit around talking about that, what would happen if we died and we didn’t have a partner, a spouse, family members, and if we had to trust our friends to take care of our child.
Frey: I mean that comes really naturally to me. I’m like, “Am I a morbid person?” I talk about this a lot, but I was a journalist on three different death row cases. I just dove so deep into the psyches of each of these accused murderers. And I’ve always been super interested in why people do the things that they do and the psychology behind it. We’re all kind of, you know, born these amazing innocent little beings, and then somewhere along the way something has to happen to make that switch. I’ve just always been so interested in the reasons why people do really dark things. Does that define you, and what happens after? Are there consequences, and can you hide it? I think that comes really naturally to me, trying to build the characters and their worlds and making these people somewhat relatable, even if they do terrible things, so that you actually feel something for them. I love all the whodunits, but this is more of a whydunit, I guess.
Chapter 16: The film rights have been bought for your first book, Not Her Daughter. Where does that stand in the process?
Frey: We talked about doing a feature film, and as we kind of got into it, they wanted to go TV because that’s where it’s at with all these Netflix and Amazon Prime series. So I said, yes, let’s do TV. They actually asked me to write the pilot, so I have been trying my hand at it. I have a wonderful writing partner, Joe Tower. I love it; it’s so different. The pilot’s been written, and they’re reviewing it, hopefully, going forward sooner rather than later.
Stephen Usery is the producer of Book Talk, an author-interview program that airs Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. Central Time on WYPL-FM, 89.3, a service of Memphis Public Libraries. He lives in Memphis.