Wisdom of the Ages With Canada’s Queen of Suspense, Joy Fielding

Photo: Toronto International Festival of Authors

What first appears to be a random home invasion and horrific attack reveals a family’s darkest secrets in the latest domestic suspense novel, The Bad Daughter, from New York Times bestselling author Joy Fielding.

The story follows an LA psychologist who returns to the dysfunctional family nest after being informed her father, his young wife and stepdaughter are clinging to life after being shot in their home.

“I don’t really know where either my ideas or inspiration comes from. Suddenly I get an idea and gradually a story starts to form in my head,” Fielding told Zoomer.

“My books are generally about the darker side of familial relationships, and The Bad Daughter is no exception. When I told my daughter, Shannon, the title, she said, ‘Not another book about me!’ (It isn’t.)”

Fielding, who will bring her latest novel to the Toronto International Festival of Authors on Oct. 26, also talked about her upcoming work, All the Wrong Places, set for release early next year, about four women who are threatened by a tech-savvy serial killer who targets his victims through online dating apps.

“I felt like writing a thriller, and the story was inspired by the explosion of dating sites online and how technology has changed everything and made women even more vulnerable than they were before,” she said.

“But the book is more than just a thriller. It’s really more about the four women and their relationships with each other as well as with the men in their lives. I always try to write novels about real women whom readers can identify with and care about.”

Clearly, she must know something about connecting with her readers. The Toronto-based author, 73, has been churning out psychological suspense bestsellers for more than 40 years, a topic she’ll surely be riffing on at this year’s 10-day celebration of words and ideas, the Toronto International Festival of Authors, along with two other Canadian literary heavyweights, Linwood Barclay and Shari Lapena.


Q&A with Joy Fielding

What advice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self?

Relax. It will all work out. You’ve had ideas before; you’ll have another one.

What advice would you give your 80-year-old self?

Nothing’s that important. Most things can wait. Relax and enjoy yourself.

What do you know for sure?

Not much, other than that old cliche: if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.

 What have you learned?

That there are few things I can’t live without. The most important thing in life is to be kind.

What will you never learn?

Probably patience and how not to let things over which I have no control (which would be most things) bother me.

Best piece of advice?

Speak up. If you don’t ask, you don’t get (courtesy of my mother). And this above all: to thine own self be true (Shakespeare, via my mother).

Did it work?

Yes, they all worked.

The moment that changed everything?

 Not sure I can single out any one moment. I would point to the birth of my daughters and my first major success I had as a writer with Kiss Mommy Goodbye, as well as the publication of my later novel, See Jane Run.

Happiness is…

Continuing good health for me and my family; not having to worry about money; the freedom to go where I want and do what I want.

Your greatest achievement as a writer?

Probably the fact I’ve written 28 books, plus one short novel for adult learners, and I’m still here, still curious and still working.

Best advice for new writers?

I’ll pass on the advice that worked for me: READ, READ, READ. Know whose story you’re telling: if you can’t sum up what your book is about in 25 words or less, you don’t know what your book is about. Do an outline. And finally, if you’re telling the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, bring on the three bears!

Panel: Linwood Barclay, Joy Fielding & Shari Lapena

Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
Book Signing, Panel Discussion, Q & A, Reading: 39th Festival Edition

Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto M5J 2G8
Cost: $18

This event will be moderated by Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star.