Best-selling Monroe author John Searles discusses writing his first wallpaper books and his new thriller


New York Times bestselling author John Searles doesn’t consider himself a thriller writer, although his books are often classified as such.

“They usually start off very character-driven but lead to these storylines that end up where the tension builds,” he said of his books, which include “Boy Still Missing,” “Strange but True” ( adapted for the film in 2019) and “Help the Haunted”. In the case of her latest book, “Her Last Affair,” which hits bookstores March 22, love can lead to crazy actions one by one.

Growing up in Monroe, Searles always knew he wanted to be a writer. He once took his mother’s wallpaper sample book, tore some fabric, added paper and glued them together like homemade books he wrote and tried to sell to his family for A quarter. It’s come a long way since then, but it’s still old school. He writes his books by hand on yellow notepads that he hides around his house before transferring his writing to the computer.

The inspiration this time came to Searles, as writers often do, with a series of “what if” questions. Weathering the pandemic at his summer home in Sag Harbor, Searles passed an abandoned drive-in movie theater en route to Port Jeff Ferry when he returned to Monroe to visit family.

Monroe native John Searles is a bestselling author and his new book ‘Her Last Affair’ will be published on March 22.

Courtesy of John Searles

What if a couple had owned this theater for 50 years and a few nights before their 50th birthday, the husband died in a freak accident? What if after his death, his widow reconnects with someone from his past?

In her latest book, “Her Last Affair,” readers are introduced to Skyla, an elderly New England widow who takes in a mysterious tenant: Linelle, a middle-aged Florida woman stuck in a boring marriage, and Jeremy , a miss. and bitter writer in New York.

“’Her Last Affair’ is a genre-changing novel that I wanted to make it feel like a puzzle that the reader is trying to solve. The book begins with three seemingly separate storylines, almost like individual character studies. Ultimately, the stories collide and the book turns into a complex thriller,” he said. “It’s very dark, which fits the abandoned drive-in setting. Also, I hopes it will offer readers a meditation on the power of love to impact us for better and for worse… and make them think about the notion of inner or outer beauty and what draws us to another person.

The drive-in also adds an element of cohesion. Searles began each chapter with a quote from a movie that might have been played there. The quotes give clues to what’s to come and make these characters feel connected.

“I have a thing for all of them because they’re all troubled in their own way,” he said, noting that Skyla was his favorite character. “She’s tough as nails and a little hard to like at first, but hopefully by the end, when we see what happened to Skyla, what her story is, that the reader will develop a soft spot for her. “

Searles likes to try something new with each book and here he goes meta by subtly inserting himself into the story. Skyla talks about her nephew, John, and in the end, it’s him she tells her story and who writes it for her.

He’s already working on his next book while publicizing it, including a March 22 live event at Symphony Space in New York City, sitting down for a chat with actress Amy Ryan, who played in “Strange But True”. Several Connecticut bookstores are participating, including House of Books in Kent, Turning the Page Books in Monroe, Fairfield University Bookstore and RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison and Middletown. Readers get an entry code to join the event if they pre-order the book from one of these stores.

Waiting at the tables, working in a graduate writing program and writing for magazines, Searles could not have predicted being a bestselling author or seeing one of his books made into a movie.

“It was such an honor to have a book turned into a movie. So many books are released every year…are chosen for cinema and so few end up being made,” he said. “The cast was phenomenal and it was just amazing to go on set. I have a cameo in the movie so if you blink you’ll miss me. I play an author featured at an event at the library.

“This is all something that when I was growing up and trucking with my dad and just riding my bike around the neighborhood, doing my paper route, I never would or could only have dreamed of. “


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