In August 2019, writer Chris Bohjalian was at a matinee film in NYC when the inspiration for what would be his next novel, “The Lioness” (Doubleday), was found.
“I emerged from the theater into this cobalt blue sky, steamy summer. I was watching this movie ten minutes ago. And I thought, ‘My God, I love Hollywood! Why have I never written a Hollywood novel?” He says.
“I knew my Hollywood novel would be set at some point in my childhood. So I went back to a period of great social upheaval. And I didn’t want the locale to be just Hollywood. I thought, ‘The 1964 one What’s the coolest place where a bunch of Hollywood actors and their crew can get into all kinds of trouble?”
As it turned out, Tanzania. A-list actress Katie Barstow and her new husband David have traveled there for a high-end safari with some friends and fellow cast members. The trip promises to be a spectacular getaway, filled with wildlife and gorgeous scenery that—until the unimaginable—is taken hostage after a band of Russian mercenaries kill their safari guide. (“The Russians have long been the bad guys in my books,” he notes.)
While the Vermont-based author is prolific, no two books are alike—they range from a flight attendant waking up next to a dead body in a Dubai hotel room (“The Flight Attendant,” the basis for the popular HBOMAX series) May be. A Puritan woman accused of witchcraft in Massachusetts (“The Witch’s Hour”) in the 1600s to a young woman helping refugees from the 1915 Armenian Genocide (“The Sandcastle Girls.”)
“My books are driven by fear. I want my readers to be heartbroken on one side, hope on the other,” says Bohjalian, who likes to edit manuscript drafts with a fountain pen. Not afraid to kill off my main characters – I do this a lot. My goal is never to write the same book twice. But all my books have the same qualities. You don’t know if you’re going to end up heartbroken or on hope. ,