Author Interview: Haley Harrigan

Read time: about 3 minutes

Haley Harrigan, the author of Secrets of Southern Girls, was kind enough to agree for an interview. This interview is part of the Spotlight Tour of Secrets of Southern Girls, in association with Source Books. Oh, and before we forget, there’s a Rafflecopter Giveaway of the book running. Go check it out!

Spotlight tour: Secrets of Southern Girls

Source Books is currently running a Rafflecopter Giveaway of Secrets of Southern Girls! You may not want to miss this one!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tell us more about yourself.

My name is Haley Harrigan, and I’m a real-life Southern girl. I went to the University of Georgia and hold degrees in Creative Writing and Public Relations. I still live in Georgia with my husband and our Yorkie child. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually watching something fun on Netflix with a glass of wine in my hand.

Haley Harrigan

How did “Secret of Southern Girls” come about.

Eavesdropping. When I was a teenager, I overheard my mother and a longtime friend of hers talking about a girl they knew when they were younger who was involved in some kind of “scandalous” relationship. I was only writing short stories then and it was years before I actually put the idea down on paper, but that piece of gossip stuck in my brain and evolved into what became Secrets. Invasive or not, I’m still a huge advocate of listening in on other people’s conversations! I think that’s one of many ways writers can get that first golden nugget of inspiration to set a story in motion.

Please share your experience of writing this book and what the readers can expect from it.

Writing a book is hard! For a debut author, I think the toughest thing is that no one is making you write that book. There’s no deadline, no agent, no promise of your manuscript ever being more than a computer file. That can make it hard to stay dedicated to your idea, your characters, your plot. But there’s also the tiny hope that your words might one day mean something to someone, and that can go a long way to pushing you forward.

As far as what readers can expect: Secrets of Southern Girls is both a mystery and a coming-of-age story. It’s about two teenage girls navigating friendship and relationships and secrets in a rural Southern town. It’s also a story about guilt and misunderstandings and, ultimately, healing.

Are the characters, or any elements inspired from real life?

The characters are purely fiction, but I did take some of the geographical elements—particularly the mill—from the small town where I grew up. I loved the idea of the crumbling factory as a metaphor for the broken relationships in this story.

What is the most exciting and challenging part of writing a thriller?

I think of Secrets of Southern Girls as more mystery than thriller. But the challenges are similar: Building the story in an organic way (slow enough to be realistic, fast enough to drive the plot forward), weaving together secrets and revelations in a surprising yet believable way.

Please suggest to our readers 3 Authors and 3 books that you think they must read!

Only three? I love talking about books. I have very eclectic reading tastes, but the winning combination for me is an intriguing plot coupled with beautiful language.

First: All the Margaret Atwood. I know The Handmaid’s Tale is having a (well-deserved) moment and I love that book, but my personal favorite is The Blind Assassin. Read it. Then read it again. It’s wonderfully twisty, and so beautifully written. I’ve recently finished Jessica Chiarella’s mind-blowing debut And Again, which I would highly recommend. It’s about a group of terminally ill people given a second chance at life through a cloning program, but it becomes a thoughtful exploration of what makes you, you.

And third—an oldie but goodie—Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. An engrossing coming-of-age tale of a friendship gone awry.

Gazala Amreen

Logophile, bibliophile, writer, designer, high on wanderlust and all things pretty.

Bangalore, KA