I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to have the lovely Eva Lesko Natiello here today to answer some questions. I also recently finished The Memory Box and I am totally blown away, it was amazing! Read on for the Q & A and my review.
Q & A
1. What’s a typical writing day look like for you?
A typical writing day starts with reading yesterday’s work. I will do some light tweaking on that, but the reading is mostly to give me a launching off point and to get my head back to where I left off. And that’s not just the physical aspects of where the story is but the emotional and tonal aspects, which are harder to pinpoint sometimes. My perfect writing environment is quiet. I cannot write with music or ambient sound like some people who can work in Starbucks. I could never! Also, my desk needs to be neat. I can’t think clearly when it’s a mess. Is that weird? Maybe. It is often a mess, by the way. My desk, which is actually a six foot parsons table, is where I also do the business side of being an authorpreneur. In addition to reference books, a paper calendar planner (which I will never give up!) and tons of “must-do lists” I have important momentos: family photos, gifts from readers, my lucky wishing stone.
2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?
Well, that’s interesting. I did not ever plan or hope to write a book. In fact, I didn’t start writing until after I had children and I took a leave from my job in the cosmetics industry as a communications executive. Raising the kids full-time was a difficult adjustment for me and although I was quite busy with that, I missed the creative and intellectual stimulation of my job. I remember thinking to myself, “what kind of creative project can I have which will not require a huge financial commitment, that I could do at home whenever I had some free time? Did you guess: singing in the shower? The idea of writing fiction came very accidentally after I read an interesting story in The New York Times about a young high school boy who Googled himself and discovered he was on a missing person’s list. And I was plagued with insomnia which ended up being a blessing because that’s when I got the rush of ideas for THE MEMORY BOX.
3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?
The two books that inspired me to be a writer are, FATHER’s DAY by Philip Galanes and WHITE OLEANDER by Janet Fitch.
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
The problem with my upcoming projects is that I have 3 of them. I am crazy about all of them, but I am making a concerted effort to stick to one until it’s finished. One is a comedy/drama screenplay. The screenplay is a departure for me but it’s the dialogue which is coming fast and furious, so I’m treating the screenplay almost like an outline for the novel. Does that make sense? I don’t know.
5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
If I’m writing a thriller, it’s really about plot twists and problem solving. So for instance, in THE MEMORY BOX, the premise of the book came first: a woman Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. That premise came from the Times article I mentioned. From there I needed to figure out what it was she would discover, and why didn’t she remember. I loved coming up with the things she didn’t remember. That was really fun. (Even though they were horrendous things, of course!) But it set in motion her back story, and her motivation. So it moved the story back and forward at the same time. Writing a thriller is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. As far as developing characters, I am a keen observer. There is never an idle moment in a writer’s life! Even when I’m relaxing (at the beach, let’s say) I am constantly observing how people interact, how they speak, what they look like, their mannerisms etc. I amy even have a muse for a character. For Dr. Sullivan in THE MEMORY BOX my muse was Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?
My favorite character to write from THE MEMORY BOX, was Elaine. And in the novel I’m working on now, it’s Chrissy. More on her later!
7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?
I like when readers contact me through my website contact form at evanatiello.com or through Goodreads.
8. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?
I think there is a little of me in every character, but I don’t relate wholly to any of them.
9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?
I always wanted to be an astronaut and when I read last week that an Earth-like planet was discovered in the solar system next to ours which we might be able to visit someday, I was feeling a little down that I never pursued that. Then my son reminded me that I routinely become carsick if I’m a back seat passenger so rocketing to another planet might not be for me. I do love creative collaboration and that’s the one thing I miss being a writer.
10. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
An agent once referred to me as a female Stephen King.
What would you do if you Googled yourself and uncovered something shocking?
In this gripping psychological thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy. Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know.
The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd.With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true.
The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose a story of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello’s page-turning suspense cautions: Be careful what you search for.
About the Author
Eva is a native New Yorker, who, by transplanting to the New Jersey suburbs, conceived her first novel, THE MEMORY BOX, a psychological thriller and Amazon #1 Bestseller, about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember—set in a fictional upscale suburb where things appear to be quite ordinary. You can find her essays on the Huffington Post and several other places, she also has a blog with more of her work. You can also find Eva on Twitter, Facebook,and Goodreads.
When Eva contacted me about possibly reviewing The Memory Box I was immediately hooked after reading the blurb. We live in the age of the Google Effect and the thought of finding out secrets about myself by Googling totally intrigued me. While the blurb is fantastic I really wasn’t expecting this book to be as amazing as it was.
Once again, I’m going to have to be kind of vague here. I promise it’s for your own good though! From the start, this book grabs you and doesn’t let go until the final page. Caroline gives into temptation and Googles herself after hearing all the other mothers at her twin daughters school talk about it incessantly. When she Googles her married name, nothing much pops up, but when she Googles her maiden name, all hell breaks loose. Hold on, because you’re about to get on a nonstop rollercoaster ride with Caroline that you won’t want to get off of until the truth is all revealed.
As Caroline begins to dig into her past, she keeps on getting blindsided again, and again. Why can’t she remember anything about the stuff that she’s uncovering? Are huge and relevant chunks of her life just…gone? Understandably shaken, Caroline begins to unravel as she discovers her shocking and dark past isn’t anything like she thought it was.
Without giving up the plot, here’s a list of words I would use to describe this one; (I actually took all these from the notes I made at midnight when I was frantically flying through The Memory Box) disturbing, unsettling, on the edge of my seat gripping, parts are uncomfortably bizarre, clever, sharp, twisted, edgy, completely unpredictable, addictive, obsessive, and the one constant thought running through my mind, this book is really messing with my mind, am I going crazy along with Caroline?! I loved every minute of it though!
Honestly, this book has everything I need in a good and solid psychological thriller and I cannot wait to see what Eva comes up with next! Also, a huge congratulations to Eva for making the New York Times best sellers list for the week of September 11, 2016! Well deserved.
Overall rating: 5/5
Huge and heartfelt thank you to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.