Laura McHugh is a Columbia, MO author whose latest book is “The Wolf Wants In.” It’s a suspense novel set in a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis featuring a woman who confronts a dark secret about her brother’s shocking death. McHugh is the internationally bestselling author of “The Weight of Blood,” winner of an International Thriller Writers Award, and “Arrowood,” an International Thriller Writers Award finalist for best novel. I recently emailed some interview questions to her and she was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to write back some answers.
Daniel Boone Regional Library: “The Wolf Wants In” is written with two main characters, and the book switches between their stories in alternating chapters. Why did you decide to tell this story with two protagonists instead of just one?
Laura McHugh: Each of the narrators is connected to Shane Keller, whose death is surrounded by unanswered questions. Sadie, his sister, suspects that he was murdered, and her investigation uncovers a side of her brother she wasn’t aware of. She starts to wonder how well she really knew him, and what he was truly capable of. Henley is part of the family Shane married into, and she knows more about his death than she cares to. I wanted to show the crime from two different sides. Each woman is plagued by secrets and has something at stake in solving the mystery.
DBRL: Your first book takes place in Missouri, the second in Iowa, and your newest one in Kansas. How do you choose the various settings for your stories?
McHugh: All of my books are set in the Midwest, and I tend to choose places that have a personal connection. Setting is sometimes the inspiration for the story, and everything else flows from that. I had always wanted to write about the Ozarks, where I grew up, and that setting produced my first novel, “The Weight of Blood.” My fourth novel, which is now in editing, is set in the Ozarks as well.
DBRL: I’m curious how you achieve the tone in your work. Does your tone stay consistent from your first draft, or is it something that you try to adjust as you rework your manuscript?
McHugh: I do like to have a certain tone or atmosphere in my books. I like a sense of foreboding, and that comes somewhat naturally in my writing. It stays consistent from the beginning, but during revisions I’ll be more purposeful about it — build on it where needed, make sure it’s having the desired effect.
DBRL: Read anything good lately you’d like to recommend?
McHugh: I always recommend my friend and fellow CoMo author Jill Orr’s books — “The Full Scoop” came out recently and is the perfect finale to the series. My current reading list includes Heather Young’s “The Distant Dead,” Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Karen Katchur’s “Spring Girls” and Hannah Mary McKinnon’s “Sister Dear.”
DBRL: Where can readers get a copy of your book?
McHugh: At their favorite local shop, library or online bookstore. Skylark Bookshop, Plume, Yellow Dog Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble have it locally. It’s also available in e-book and audiobook formats.