Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 3 months ago

WB-S2E27 The Second Husband / Kate White

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block speaks with Thriller writer Kate White about her new book, The Second Husband as well as her former career as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine.

The weirdest thing that ever happened to me that I was writing a book that took place in Saratoga, New York, and I was up there doing some research and there was a pivotal character I just could not fully get in my mind and I was in a bookstore, the North Shire Bookstore and Saratoga that I sometimes speak at, and that was just browsing around and there was a woman right in the aisle and I realize, oh my gosh, that's Soundra, that is the person. So I started following her a little bit and she looked at me a little bit like, you know, cool. Welcome to the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast For New York Times Best Selling Authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Join Mary K Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Christy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callaghan Henry, along with Ron Block as novelist. We are for longtime friends with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and inside or talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Do you love a twisty psychological thriller, How about a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat? Stay tuned for this episode of the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast. We have a great guest for you. Kate White is here and she is the New York Times best selling author of sixteen novels of Suspense, eight standalone psychological thrillers, including the second husband which is just out, and there's also eight Bailey Wiggins mysteries. For fourteen years, Kate served as the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, which, under her became the most successful magazine in single copy sales in the US, and I can't wait to talk to her about all of that. Ha. Though she loved her magazine Career, she decided to leave nine years ago to concentrate full time on another passion, which was writing suspense fiction and for readers, were kind of glad she did. She's been nominated for many awards in her media career, including an international thriller Writers Award, and her first mystery, if looks good kill was a Kelly Ripp a book club pick and number one best seller on Amazon. She's has been published in countries around the world. Welcome to the PODCAST, Kate. I'll thank you run. So great to be here. I'm so excited to talk about this book too, because I just finished it a few days ago and I was like it was loved it. But I have to just before we got out of the gate, I want to just give you Kudos for your real housewives in the book, actors. It was such a great surprise and...

I'm such a band it's to see this, which is especially that particular one that shows we love to hate right. Yes, yes, I don't miss a single episode. So see that will that, especially that when you reference so, but I won't give anything away. Hopefully so. Anyway, if I wasn't a fan of yours already, that totally clinched it. But let's start out by talking about the new book. Can you tell everybody what the second husband is about? Sure, and but by the way, Roun, it comes out June twenty eight. I wish it was coming out a little earlier in June, but you know, publishing sometimes has certain algorithms that authors have difficulty figure out of it story of a woman named I'm a hawk who is a trend forecaster and researcher and she's on her second marriage to this great guy named Tom and they're living in westport and she gets a knock on the door one day and it is the place coming to open, reopen an investigation into the murder of her first husband, and that was only twenty six months ago. So it's she is a little bit vulnerable. It's like she remarried pretty quickly. They never found the killer and so this whole thing throws her life into turmoil and she starts asking a lot of questions, and I think the reader would ask a lot of questions to you about, you know, who is Emma? Who is Tom the new man she's married to, and what? You know, what's really going on? Yeah, I found myself questioning every page what's going like, thinking I had I had it all figured out. I said, oh well, this, I've got this figured out, I might as well skip to the end, but no, I didn't. So many surprises and twists and turns. It's just really well done and congratulations on it, because I can't imagine putting some of that that together. But I will talk about your process in a little bit. Where did the original idea for the book come from? Do you know? I was trying to think of it the other day because someone asked me and there's a moment where I do know, and then, as you start building, sometimes I lose the thread. Like I I think I started thinking about the idea of someone remarrying kind of quickly, and then I I do what so many authors to. You start playing with what if, you know, what if this happens, what if that happens? And sometimes I can remember the exact little colonel the idea started with. And it always, almost always starts with a colonel. Maybe it's a phrase I heard or news headline, and then you do the what if. But once in a while I can't even remember. What was the moment where I said, hmm, what if this? And I'm not sure what this one. I think it was just the idea of what if you are in a new marriage and the other husband died and now...

...you can't lay that to rest, as much as you want to correct you. Oh, yes, yes, yes, so let's talk a little bit more about Emma. I actually thought that the trend forecaster was something to kind of new for me. Can you talk a little bit about weaving that into the story and also about Emma, where she comes from, who she is? Well, the trend force casting stuff was really interesting for me to include in my series, the Bailey Wagon series. Bailey is a true crime writer for magazines and I had that long career you mentioned in magazines and I actually had someone who worked for me at Cosmo who did our true crime pieces who could have been Bailey wagons. And though she started after I started writing the books, but with a standalonees I've tried to give the main character a job that I'm fairly familiar with. So it has embarrassimilitude, because I once read a book about another in chief and and the author got it so wrong I thought I don't want to make that kind of mistake, because they think it does help if you feel it's real. And when I ran COSMO I use trend forecasters, I use researchers and I did a lot of research myself. So I borrowed from that and it's really kind of fascinating. Look, we know run no one can predict the future, but there are certain things that forecasters use and one of my favorite that I that I mentioned in the book, is something called the rule of three. Yes, I found this so helpful for my personal life too. If, and Emma mentions the rule of three in the book, because someone if something happens once, chance, if it happens twice, it's curiosity, you know, kind of like why did that happen again? Or maybe coincidence, but once something happens three times, a trend forecaster would say I should pay attention to that. And in life I think we should pay attention to when things happened three times and what's it telling us? And and it really made me start being better about paying attention to little things, as sometimes I'll just dismiss. And in terms of Emma herself, I was interested in somebody who was a pretty together person and had married someone the first time. And you find this out pretty quickly that on paper he seemed great. He was kind of the kind of guy shows thought she would marry, but once he switched jobs and started into a much high pressure job, he turned into someone very moody and difficult and and very unpleasant, and so it was like she she suddenly was married to someone she didn't know. And I actually dated somebody like that once who, once he switched jobs and got into a high power thing, he became like a maybe not...

...a different person, maybe he was already always that way, but it really triggered something very unlikable in him, and so I borrowed that to use for her first husband. And and so she is not soar sorry not to have him in her life. She feels bad that he died, but she you know right away that she's had to kind of fake her grief. Yes, yes, he has, and it's so real too, but get's not. You know, a lot of people might think it's best to paint a rosy picture and as she's so greet but it adds a whole level of emotional upheavil to the book. I think that makes you kind of connect with Emma. So well done with that. Yeah, I think that happens in life, you know, even with sometimes parents are siblings, where you feel very bad that their life is over, but you maybe you weren't close to them. So in some ways it becomes almost harder to rustle with because you got the guilt of not feeling as bad as people think. You do right, right, and so you still try to hide it because you don't want people to know that about you. So right. So we've talked about em a little bit, but let's talk about some of the other characters. Do you have people that inspire you to create them, or do they just kind of come into your mind when you sit down? Sometimes I do, like I'll see someone out thinking that might be somebody interesting to to use at some point. Often it just comes to my mind, but then I have to get a visual image and I'll start sometimes going online and looking at famous people and see if there's just something I can latch onto about the description of the person. There's a big character actor who's red hair that I use very much to help me getting a sense of this one character my mind. The weirdest thing that ever happened to me that I was writing a book that took place in Saratoga, New York, and I was up there doing some research and there was a pivotal character I just could not fully get in my mind and I was in a bookstore, the North Shire Bookstore and Saratoga that I sometimes speak at, and I was just browsing around and there was a woman right in the aisle and I realize, oh my gosh, that's Sandra, that is the person. So I started following her a little bit and she looked at me a little bit like, you know, cool it, wanted it and also, I kind of backed off didn't want to be accused of being a stalker, but then I went out to dinner that night alone in a restaurant, since I was on my own doing the research, and she was sitting at the same bar, and so I surreptitiously took some pictures with my I phone,...

...but it was so helpful to have her literally come to life in front of my eyes. That was the weirdest thing that ever happened. I love it. I love it, but that is doesn't obviously doesn't always happen for you know, though, I will tell you this. Sometimes the people I really don't like, I find little ways to work the man enterrectly, not so they could suit. Maybe there's one little thing they're gonna know. That was me. Yes, yeah, well, do they it? Does anyone ever like question if this is might be a little bit about them? Or a couple people of question because it's the same name, first name, but they've been totally wrong and I wouldn't be that obvious. Right. So how do you pull it all together? Because a book like this, it has so many layers and so many angles that somehow have to not only point to what's going to happen at the end but also distract. So in my brain it's like this, this big map of Yar and that goes to all these different points on a bulletin board. But but how do you pull this all together? It feels like this. Sometimes it's as somebody wants called it. It's kind of like spinning plates. One thing that's actually helped me not this isn't quite the question you ask, but it's you talked about maybe confusing the reader and taking him off in the wrong direction. I read a couple books on magic when I first started. I was very interesting because magicians use misdirection and one of the things about them is they often have completed the trick almost before they seem to be doing the trick. So that helped. But I'm a what they call plotter rather than a pantser. You've heard that term, pantser? Oh yes, yeah, and I just refused to be called a pancer just because it sounds so bad. That's a young Peter when he's on people. But I plot the book out. I always know. I plotted out broadly. I know who the killer is, why they killed and just sort of what might be the main twist, and then I plot out about four chapters at a time in a notebook and I try to lay down the red herrings and clues. And I know people right very successfully by being pansers and doing it by the sea their pants, but I would find it very hard to lay down red herrings and clues if I didn't know where it was going, even though I do know where I'm going. Sometimes then I have to go back and tweak few, a few things so they don't seem so obvious, or maybe be fair enough with the reader to do a few more clues if I feel I haven't given any at all. Right. So have you ever had a time where you were moving along and all of a sudden suddening comes up into your brain that you go like, Oh wait, I have to go shift the direction of this now? Not so much that off...

...the top of my head, but I but what will happen is something will come to mind about a character that I didn't know that I've just remember there was one character all of a sudden realize, oh gosh, he's going to die and I didn't know that I really liked him. And other times it might be something will occur to me that I suddenly think fire, there should be a fire, and those things happen. So part of the Magic of writing that I've talked to so many thriller authors about is that all that, as you're sitting there, your brain suddenly spills out information to you about things that should happen and you think where did that come from? It's magical. It's so exhilarating when you all of a sudden have these things happen. And there was something in my last book to fiance. It was a variation on something that happened to a friend of mine professionally, just a moment where she was giving a little presentation and all of a sudden I thought, Oh God, there's a way to do a variation of that in this book. Right as I'm sitting there, I hadn't even been thinking of the story she had told me years ago, and that makes it so much fun. So I would never want to plot it out so definitively that I wouldn't be able to allow for those fun moments. Right right. I love that. I love that it's such a fresh approach to it. What do you think is the draw for mystery and Thriller Writers Towards Death like it seems to be. It's just a fascination, but with death, with readers to I'll throw readers in there too. But yeah, I you know, I've heard certain people, Authors and readers, say it's nice to have everything wrapped up and know that justice is done, and I'm sure that's part of it. But even as a kid I was really kind of obsessed with the macaw. I there was a story in the Daily News. I live in New York state. It grew up in New York state, Not New York City, where I live now much of the time, but upstate New York. But we got the Daily News and there was something called the Justice Story and it was always about you, the crime of the week on Sunday and all. I would read it and I would almost be nervous, like if my parents caught me, they'd be like what are you reading that for? It could, because it was could be so dark. And it's funny. One day I came downstairs and I saw my daughter watching the Ted Bundy interviews and I was about to say, honey, what are you doing that I realize well, apple doesn't fall. In fact, one time I was I give a dinner party for Thriller Fast. I didn't this year because of Covid were I in fight some of my author Pals for dinner during it and one year it Lee child was...

...there and Karen Slaughter and and Joe Finder and people were talking about Ted Bunny and everybody was totally familiar with him. So sort of like, okay, this is crue that that really finds death interesting and crime interesting. So I guess it's I feel like I've always been fascinated by mystery and the unknown and why things might have happened the way they did. I think I think it's a general fascination with it, because I think the what is it like? Forensic files and things on television beyond both are just such magnets for people. Yes, and I think we all are. So many of us must have that, because that would explain the shows and their popularity. Even when I was at cosmopolitan we were known as a relationship Bible and we had cover lines like mattress move so hot as thighs, school up in flames, those sorts of things. But you know what our readers favorite television show was? Somebody once told me. I bet it sex in the city. No, it was CSI and you are later, was eighteen to thirty five years old, but that was her favorite show when I was there. So that, I guess, that tells us something. It's in a lot that fascination. It's a lot, I think. Serial killers a whole thing and that's crazy. We Ron. I have to tell you I remember what a Cosmo we know. We did a lot of stories about protecting yourself against crime and I remember there was one moment were said the woman is most likely to be killed by a serial killer between like fifteen and like forty six. I was like, I'm out of the zone. Ya, Hey, in that zone. I'm pretty that's awesome. So let's talk about COSMO. What was it like to work there and what were some of the highlights of your career with them? It was the most magical experience in those days. Not Anymore. Magazines have really decline and that's part of what let was part of my decision to leave, as much as I love my company, my job, I could see that it was happening. New Generations, new ways of getting their information, like we're doing right now. But during the heyday we had over three million readers of fair percent, and that's just who bought it. We had a huge pass along to the staff was very diverse. It was so much fun. People who work there tend to be people who were a little bit out there, because cosmo was kind of an out there magazine. Who was every day was like being on a television show and I loved it. I I'm still very close to a number of people work for me and I see I see them regularly and it was really fun and it's too bad that as magazines...

...have disappeared and are disappearing that there might be young people who never can have the chance of working from one and seeing just how much fun it was. Right, right, right. It's it's certainly a more of a cutthroat thing and I just working in the library. We carry all kinds of magazines, but I get sad because so many are ceasing publication, at least in physical and there's something about flipping through the pages. I just a quick aside. When I worked in the library early on we used to carry cosmo pollen but we had to hide it behind the desk. It would have to come up and leave their library card because it was one of the things that people wanted more than anything and it would just walk out the door. We were the most stolen magazine and doctor's office is one of my favorite moments there was I got a call for Al Williams had written a song using cosmo cover lines and he wanted to come by bring a singer to performance and he said I'll bring the booze. I thought that that was a Cosmo Day. That wasn't and a great example of how you feel like you're at a TV show. It really it was so much fun. I love it. I love it now. Do you think a lot of that now? You also, before I go there, you also write some wonderful career advice books for people. Can you talk with just our second about that? I love doing that too. One of the things I found interesting is I I was the other chief of a magazine called Working Woman that was really about career advice and I often found that sometimes even the most talented successful person sometimes had a hard time explaining strategy, like if you if you want this, you should do that. And for whatever reason I felt pretty good at that. And I wrote a book back in the s called why good girls don't get ahead, but gutsie girls do. That was very pivotal then and big success. And then I wrote another book which I think probably still holds up, called I shouldn't be telling you this with great career advice and I would speak out at all sorts of places, conferences and organizations on it. But what happens is the farther you get from being in the corporate world, the less you know that's really going on there. So a few years ago I just said that that's not going to be an area that I that I stay in anymore. But run I still if a friend asked, hey, my daughter could use some career advice, I am more than happy to help it because certain things, like team certain things just always supply like one of the great little pieces of information. I I've always felt as at sometimes people want a job interview. Try to keep cool as a cucumber, but really what you're the other person is looking for is just over the top enthusiasm. Don't be afraid to say, Gosh,...

I would love to work here. And Fot, our talent head of town acquisition at hers once told me the best people were the ones that never said all the way back on the seat. They're the ones who sat on the edge of the seat because they were dying for the job. So some old things still apply. Absolutely, yeah, that, I mean that transcends, like format and and location. That's it's that's a great piece of advice. Yeah, and asking for what you want. I know women today are encouraged to do that more, but it's still so important. When you're negotiating your you're being offered a starting salary, it is absolutely fine to say, while I'm thrilled to be offered this job, I love the sound of working here and for you, but I was hoping for this amount. They expect you to negotiate and you should, and you should. That's where that trend forecasting kind of comes in. You can kind of see what what the going salaries are in your chosen professional absolutely check it out, do your research. Definitely, definitely. So let's shift a little bit here. Talk about what some of the early books in your life that were favorites. I know your mom was a librarian, so you had to have such an influence there. Well, certainly. I think the first book she ever brought me, when she was getting her masters in Library Science, was a wrinkle in time and I just thought I'd died and going to heaven reading that book, Yes, and then I would say, Gosh, Nancy drew, Nancy drew. You know, for baby boomers like me there were so few role models for us in in life in general then, but also in books, because so often the woman had to play a certain role. And Nancy was Gutsy, she was a detective and she could care less about that Ned neckerson she had been to do. I mean she liked him, but he had to take a back seat to some of her other pursuits. So that really influence it. And for a while I wanted to be a detective and I would. I got a little navy trench coat when I was like twelve and I would carry a little pistol toy water, a water pistol in my pocket and and pretend to be a little detective around my town and then finally realize now I have too much of a whimp. I would never ever want to be a detective and I realized maybe what it means as I want to write mysteries. And then when I was in college, Esquare magazine ran a great story, a big section called things every young man should know, and one of for them a little box was the ten best mysteries of all time and and so, even though I was in the young man they were things like the big sleeve,...

...the Maltese Falcon, it looks by near a wolf and Josephin Te. So I just went through the list because up until that point I've really just read Nancy drew and then I was introduced to all sorts of books and various genres, you know, legal thrillers, as and and hard boiled detective and that's when I realize, Gosh, I love anything to do that's a thriller, mystery, all that stuff. Yeah, got under your skin. Yeah, totally. But I also love literary fiction. I read a lot of it and I read history to because there's a lot of mystery and all of those as well. That's so true, so true. A lot of the non fiction and really do read like a mystery because you're along a path to find the why. Right, right. So did you have recent books that you can talk about that you've loved that you might recommend? Sure, I absolutely loved, in terms of mysteries, Gene Carl. It's just the plot that was out of this world. With lately I've had trouble with some thrillers where the need to the twist has to be. So you know it's got to be twisty that they sort of, you know, jump the shark. For me I also love the book we were never here. The mystery in terms of literary fiction, and I I just read the book separate, a separation by the author who also wrote got a blanking on her name right now, but it's a beautiful book and she there's a mystery at the heart of it. m I just read a bio on Washington because I'm a big civil war buff so I felt like better get to know something about the revolution. And I just I took a Yale open course during the pandemic on the civil war and I've just ordered downloaded rob Robert Blite, who taught the course, his biography of Frederick Douglas, which it can't read, write to read. And then I read a book lately that I love called deep work, about the importance of us just removing ourselves from all the distractions. This is more of a service, very helpful. I'm writing that one down. Yeah, so good. At one of my favorite novels of the last couple of years was a symmetry, which is that was just brilliant. And so I what I try to do on my kindle as I have four books going at the same time. I've got the the nonfiction, and that's more of like a memoir or or like historical that I don't know if this is count accounts on halfway through Tina Brown's the palace papers, which is delicious. Yes, and...

I have a mystery and right now I'm reading insomnia as my mystery. And I'll have a history. Well, I said a history book by I'm reading the history of water gate. And in terms of a literary thriller, since I just finished a separation, I'll have a new one yet. Oh well, it all I have. Gene Corlitz has the new one. Yes, yes, which you know. The good news is, the bad news is it's not a thriller, like the plot. The good news is that it's a gripping family drama called the late comer. So my nightstand, Oh really, it is so lenning and I can't believe Jean. She's a pal of mine. She probably want you know. I'm probably not in her league, but she's. I'm sure that's true. So that's my em always for at the same time. And then I kind of just moved from one to the next. Yeah. Well, we had Jane here as a guest when the plot first came out and oh it was so fascinating to hear about how it all came together and it's been on my list to encourage everybody to read it. Yeah, yeah, I just thought it was delicious and so well written. Yeah, yeah, she's certainly a talent and I like she goes different genres to like. Each one is so different and right and and this one is very different, but it's still very good and there's some mystery to it to a lot of really great literal fiction, as I said, like Julian Barnes, sense of an ending. You're you're spending the whole book sort of wondering why? Why? Why? Yes, what's going on? Wow, this is awesome. So what's next for you? Well, I'm starting the tour for the second husband and I'm looking forward to that because Ron it's now virtual too, but also in person. It's going to be great to be out on the road talking about the book with people, with people. One of the things that makes what I do so pleasureable is that readers are wonderfully responsive. They reach out to me on on facebook and and instagram and it's just so great to hear from them and but I love meeting them in person. So the second husband tour. I just handed in the two thousand and twenty three book, Oh, which my editor seems to be happy with. I'm going to have to, you know, do a little bit of work on it, which is always the case. That's why you have editors. And then at the same time I've got to start the one for two thousand and twenty four, which so this is always the weirdest period for me. It's sort of the perfect storm because I need to be thinking about the next book before I start writing it, because I need more than a year to write it. I need a few months of thinking about it. So I'm still I'm thinking about the new one while I'm finishing the next one, and...

...that's crazy. And then planning for tour on top of all that. Yes, people think it's such a glamorous life, but why? What I've heard is it's it's a love that everybody has to meet their readers, but it's a lot of work that goes into all of this. To me, the only work is when you fly some place in the plane is late or there's no playing going home. The experience of being in a library or book store. I find it exhilarating, I really do, to meet readers and and people who take the time to come out and say hi to you. That that's so gratifying and and you know for me to I think this is the second husband is the fourth book of done that has marriage in as a center piece of it, and so that'll be interesting to talk a little bit about too, because marriage is a place for you can bring in all sorts of mystery and suspense try it's an endless mine field, less mine field. So we're can readers connect best with you? I would say some research supports that that mystery and thriller authors a readers. As popular as Instagram is today, and I'm generally post post on instagram every day, where they really connect is on facebook and they'll take the time to if you've shared a recipe, they might share one back or if you I recommend a lot of shows and books on my facebook account and they will tell you. You know, thanks so much. I I hadn't heard of that, but I watched it because of you and and then they tell me some that I don't know about and I love that. Right, right, that's awesome. And then you also have a phenomenal website that talks about all of your books and all of your tour information, and I think you have blog posts on there too, and so it's just very well rounded and it represents you very well. Can I just Sai Work for the hearst corporation for two magazines, including Cosmo, and one day when I realize I needed to get my own url, I thought, Poe, I'm sure Kate White is taken, but hurts had taken it for me years before, early on. So my website is Kate Whitecom. And how lucky is that? Right, you are very lucky. There's a lot of US people that go on there and like, why do somebody have my name? Yeah, okay, thank you so much for joining us. I we can't wait for readers to get their hands on the second husband. Oh run, thanks so much. It was such a pleasure and I so appreciate all you do for authors. Thank you. Oh my God. It's absolutely my pleasure and it like writing. I think it's a labor of love. Good, well, we're both in our labors of love as we are yes, we are. Yes, and thank you all once again for tuning in. We hope that you enjoy these peeks into storytelling and writers and that you'll share this with the friend see you next week. Thank you for tuning in...

...to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook or youtube. Where are live? Friends and fiction show airs at seven PM Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

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