Where They Found Her is the newest novel by Kimberly McCreight, author of the New York Times bestseller and 2014 Edgar and Anthony nominee Reconstructing Amelia. It hit bookshelves on April 14, just in time for readers to pack the book in their suitcases and beach bags for some addictive summer reading.
In Where They Found Her, McCreight weaves together the tales of three women whose lives are seemingly unconnected in the prestigious university town of Ridgedale, New Jersey. Questions arise after the body of an infant is discovered in the woods on the outskirts of the university campus, with no information as to who the baby is or how she came to be left in the woods.
As the story—told from the perspective of freelance reporter Molly Anderson, high school dropout Sandy, and PTA president Barbara—begins to unravel, readers will find themselves wrapped up in a tale of suspense, emotion and secrets that won’t stay buried.
McCreight, a graduate of The Hun School of Princeton, now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
This is the second book you’ve published. How was this experience different from working on your first book?
It was very different working a book and knowing it was going to be published. Because my work sits between a number of different genres, it wasn’t clear until Reconstructing Amelia came out how people would see it. I learned a lot about a mystery readership and their expectations.
So I took even more care the second time around, because I had seen, in a great way, how exacting mystery readers are about the different threads coming together, so I think I was more cognizant of that the second time around.
What kind of research did you do?
I did a lot of research on reading things about postpartum depression and infanticide and neonaticide. I spoke to a lot of doctors. I spoke to a medical examiner about an infant. One of the questions I had was, “Would you know what had happened to an infant immediately?” Because so much of what we see on television now is the medical examiner shows up and they know everything immediately. For it to be a mystery, there needed to be that ambiguity.
What was the inspiration for Where They Found Her?
I saw something on a daytime talk show about a teenager who had been accused of killing her newborn. I was pregnant with my second child at the time, and I was very profoundly struck by the story. I just remember thinking, “God, how does a thing like that happen, and why?”
I really write books to answer the question “why” things happen. I think these situations have a lot of moving parts, and I think it’s really easy to see them as simple questions and invariably they’re not.
Is Ridgedale a fictional Princeton?
For sure there are similarities in the sense that it’s an affluent university town with a prestigious university in New Jersey.
Ridgedale is not Princeton. Princeton has something very unique. I was intrigued by that idea that there is this very sophisticated place but contained, far away from an urban setting. It also has people coming and going, the sense of these outsiders there. Princeton certainly shares that in common with Ridgedale.
I saw the town kind of as an outsider, although I lived there for a couple years. In terms of the people and the culture, I don’t feel like I was inside the town enough to really know what that is.
It’s certainly not based on Princeton University. I don’t know anything about Princeton University.
You first became a lawyer, then eventually decided to pursue writing. How did you make the decision to pursue a writing career?
I wanted to do it, and I was just too scared to. I knew I needed to support myself financially, and I was very concerned about that. I really wanted a job that wouldn’t rise or fall on my ability to get lucky.
Once I had gotten a college degree and once I became a lawyer and felt that kind of security, it really enabled me then to really ask, “What did I want to do with my life?”
I had to realize it was now or never. It was my fifth manuscipt and my third agent that finally was the one that sold.
Is there anything that you think is important for people to know about you or work?
What I want to say about Where They Found Her is as much as it’s a mystery about what happened to a baby, it really is a much broader story about motherhood, and particularly about the challenge it is, the reality that none of us come to parenting with a clean slate. I think we’re all trying to either outrun a history that was dark, or we’re trying to recreate this perfect family we had growing up, and I think that’s really complicated, and it’s just a big part of the story how history reverberates through generations, particularly of women.
The book isn’t just a mystery about what happened to the baby. It’s a much deeper, more emotional story than that. By no means it is light fare, but I think it really has a heart and I think I want people to know that, too.