Not many authors can successfully make the switch from writing historical romance to contemporary thriller and—if I can be brutally honest—I wasn’t sure how Siri Mitchell would do. A lot of this was based in my own ignorance. I hadn’t read her previous books because it’s not a genre I enjoy. I wasn’t aware of her style or background. All I knew was that the shift would be difficult to pull off. I’m happy to report that Siri got it absolutely right and was more than happy to talk about it with me on the Life is Story podcast. And, once I got the title of the book correct, it was a great interview.
The Interview | Siri Mitchell
This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Josh Olds: Hello, and welcome to the Life is Story podcast, I’m Josh Olds. Today I’m with Siri Mitchell. Siri’s written a number of novels but we’re going to focus on her upcoming work State of Lies, which releases (pause)—I got the title of the book wrong…I…I’m talking about the novel that you released last year…Okay, so…I guess let’s start with this. Tell me what the title of the book is.
Siri Mitchell: (laughs) Okay. It’s called Everywhere to Hide.
Josh Olds: Everywhere to Hide. Alright. I promise you I knew that. Everywhere to Hide releases in October. And I knew that and I’ll you that what I wrote down in my notes was information on State of Lines because I went “Oh, I want to read her other suspense book as well.” Well, that’s never happened before, but it is a good entrance to your book. So let’s set the foundation. And maybe we’ll go back and talk about State of Lies later if we have some time. But give me the elevator pitch for your upcoming book, the one coming out in October.
Siri Mitchell: Okay, well, the basic elevator pitch is “How can you protect yourself from an enemy that you cannot see?” The protagonist in Everywhere to Hide has a condition called prosopagnosia. And it’s otherwise known as face blindness. So this is a condition in which a person can see everything. It’s not a traditional blindness. The problem is that they cannot map faces. So the part of the brain that maps the face just is not—it’s not working, it’s not connected.
So my protagonist, Whitney Garrison, witnesses a murder and the murderer sees her. And over the course of the story, it becomes apparent that the murder is also after her. So that’s the hook. How can she escape if she can’t even understand who it is pursuing?
Josh Olds: That’s is such an interesting concept because it’s a real-life disorder that people have in various levels of severity. And we rely so much on faces, you know, if you’re going to try to describe someone in detail, you would have to use that element of their face in order to do that. I had heard of prosopagnosia, but I hadn’t ever put it in the context of “Oh, wow, what would that be like?” Where did your idea for a story like this come from?
Siri Mitchell: Well, I’m a person who consumes a lot of material, whether that’s news, books, newspapers—and one of the things I do when I’m just out and about is listening to the radio. I had NPR on one day and they had an interview with a couple, one of whom has this condition and the interview was about their relationship and what it was like for the man—who had face blindness—to date a woman who did not. Toward the end of the interview, it became apparent that they broke up eventually, and for the first time, the girlfriend told the man with face blindness that after they broke up, she would go by his place of work—he worked as a waiter—just to see him. She would just stand across the street and watch him, which sounds a little stalker creepy, but the way she said it wasn’t—it was just, you know, when you break up with someone, you it’s hard and you just sort of want to see them. And he didn’t know; he had no idea.
So just the realization in his voice that he had been with someone in a relationship, they were close and he couldn’t even recognize her if she did not say, “Hey, here I am.” That was so haunting and it was so such a powerful moment.…Then my writer’s brain sort of kicked in and said, “Well, this actually could be a dangerous condition. What if?” What if someone was pursuing you and you didn’t know it, you had no way of knowing it. How on earth would you protect yourself? How would you get out of that situation? So that’s, that’s kind of how the idea started.
The Book | Everywhere to Hide
Law school graduate Whitney Garrison is a survivor. She admirably deals with her mother’s death, mounting student debt, dwindling job opportunities, an abusive boyfriend, and a rare neurological condition that prevents her from recognizing human faces.
But witnessing a murder might be the crisis she can’t overcome.
The killer has every advantage. Though Whitney saw him, she has no idea what he looks like. He knows where she lives and works. He anticipates her every move. Worst of all, he’s hiding in plain sight and believes she has information he needs. Information worth killing for. Again.
As the hunter drives his prey into a net of terror and international intrigue, Whitney’s only ally, Detective Leo Baroni, is taken off the case. Stripped of all semblance of safety, Whitney must suspect everyone and trust no one—and fight to come out alive.
The Author | Siri Mitchell
Siri Mitchell is the author of 18 novels. She published 2 historical novels for the general market with Sourcebooks under the pseudonym Iris Anthony.
Siri graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in government at the local, state, and federal levels. As a military spouse, she lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo.
She has become known as a master storyteller, painting pictures of places her readers have never been and lives they’ve never lived. As one reader has said, Siri’s books are, “unexpected, haunting, and powerful,” and they are known for lively dialogue and honest emotion.
Kirkus has noted that Siri writes a well-paced and interwoven story… creates a narrative that subtly educates, poses stimulating questions and entertains.” Publishers Weekly pointed out that she is “adept with flashbacks and withholds certain key bits of information until the right moment, which adds punch to the narrative.” RT Reviews has given her books their Top Picks designation, “Siri Mitchell writes spellbinding novels, with some element of mystery and surprise for readers to discover.”
Siri is a speaker to women’s and writing groups both large and small. She has also taught fiction writing courses at regional and national writing conferences.