L.S. Stratton joins The Spotlight this week to chat about her thriller, Not So Perfect Strangers

Author Name: L.S. Stratton

Book Title: Not So Perfect Strangers

Book Genre: Thriller

Release Date: 3/28/2023

Publisher: Union Square & Co

Welcome to The Spotlight! What sparked the idea for this book?

My novel NOT SO PERFECT STRANGERS was inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock film, Strangers on a Train. The film is about two strangers that meet by chance on a train and one suggests they each murder the nuisance in the other’s life. One of the strangers brushes off the suggestion as a joke, until the wife he’s been trying to divorce turns up dead. I wanted to do a modernized version of the story, introducing new elements to the plot while exploring themes of racism and feminism.

What drew you to writing thrillers?

Though I’m a reader of many different genres, when I started writing fiction, I wrote romances almost exclusively. (Fun fact: I’ve met several female mystery and thriller writers that started off in romance.) One of my editors, Mercedes Fernandez, noticed that my stories weren’t just straight-forward romances. I often would include other soapy elements and subplots, like an unsolved murder. She encouraged me to keep doing that in my books. I figured out after a while, I was having more fun writing the subplots than I was writing the romance. I finally took the plunge and made the subplots, the main plots in the story and started writing thrillers.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

First and foremost, I hope readers enjoy the twist and turns. It is possible to enjoy this book just on that level. But I tried very hard to construct nuanced characters and tell a story with bigger themes about agency and self-actualization and what happens when people are tested to their limits.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

There’s going to be a lot of hills and valleys in the course of your writing career but take it all in stride. It will help you grow as a writer and a person.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m working on a dual-timeline Gothic thriller that’s loosely inspired by an eccentric historical figure from the Harlem Renaissance. I read about this person years ago and was astonished no one had tackled a character like her before because there’s so much material to work with. It took me a couple of years to develop a solid concept that I was happy with, that fit the story I wanted to tell. When my editor acquired NOT SO PERFECT STRANGERS, my agent and I pitched her this book as a possible followup and she was super excited at the idea. It’s been challenging to write but I’m glad to see the novel finally come to fruition.

Thank you! Not So Perfect Strangers is available for preorder.

One fateful encounter upends the lives of two women in this tense domestic thriller, a modern spin on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train that flips the script on race and gender politics.

“I’m a big believer that women should help each other, Tasha,” she says. “Don’t you think?”

Tasha Jenkins has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. Taking her teenage son with her, Tasha checks into a hotel the night before their flight out of D.C. and out of Kordell Jenkins’s life forever. But escaping isn’t so easy, and Tasha soon finds herself driving back to her own personal hell. As she is leaving, a white woman pounds on her car window, begging to be let in. Behind the woman, an angry man is in pursuit. Tasha makes a split-second decision that will alter the course of her life: she lets her in and takes off. 

Tasha and Madison Gingell may have very different everyday realities, but what they have in common is marriages they need out of. The two women want to help each other, but they have very different ideas of what that means . . .

They are on a collision course that will end in the case files of the D.C. MPD homicide unit. Unraveling the truth of what really happened may be impossible‒and futile. Because what has the truth ever done for women like Tasha and Madison?