The Girl on the Train was the talk of the water cooler in 2015, as Paula Hawkin’s runaway thriller sold more than 32 million copies and became a major motion picture staring Emily Blunt. Not too shabby for a debut novel.
On May 2, Hawkins released her highly-anticipated second tome, Into the Water, which she’ll read and discuss today with Murder by the Book at Lone Star College alongside bestselling crime-fiction author, Megan Abbott (You Will Know Me).
In her new novel, Hawkins dives deep into the murky present and past of a fictional English village, Beckford. When a young girl and single mother drown in the same body of water where women have lost their lives for hundreds of years—from speculative suicides to the persecution of “witches”—Hawkins conjures a mystifying narrative while touching on the oppression of women throughout history.
“I wanted to create this gothic atmosphere, spotlighting the witch hunting that took place during the 16th and 17th centuries, that was essentially a form of social control. Witchcraft was an easy way to get rid of women who didn’t fit in,” Hawkins says. “It was interesting to draw a line through history, as the same sorts of women that society deemed ‘witches’ centuries ago are still labeled today as troublesome, problematic or just different.”
Into the Water boasts a larger roster of characters with intertwined mysterious than her first thriller, which Hawkins described as tricky at times to write, but since its a compact community, everyone’s experiences overlap with each other. But the real star of the novel is water, which runs through the heart of the story—both literally and figuratively—like the tracks in The Girl on the Train.
“Most people have strong reactions to water. They spend their childhood holidays by the water or by the seaside, so memories of water can be closely tied with happy times, but it can also be very terrifying and dangerous,” Hawkins shares. “A lot of the book is based on how we remember our childhood summers and how those memories shape the rest of our lives.”
As every page makes an unexpected splash, it is no wonder Into the Water is already the summer’s buzziest book, having snatched the No. 2 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list. While it’s cliché, it’s true: Reader will be guessing until the very last page (and the very last sentence). Add this scary-good tome to the top of your reading list before spoilers start streaming in.
Hear Paula Hawkins and Megan Abbott speak to Bayou City fans tonight at 7 p.m. $35 (includes an autographed copy of Into the Water.) Lone Star College Kingwood Student Conference Center, 2000 Kingwood Dr. Visit murderbooks.com for more information.