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Photo: Leah Konen

Greenpoint author Leah Konen has written several young adult novels including Love and Other Train Wrecks and The Romantics. After writing novels for teens, Konen is ready to make her adult fiction debut with the thriller All The Broken People.

Set in Woodstock, New York, the novel follows Lucy King on her quest to start fresh after an abusive relationship. After she arrives at her cottage, she meets Vera and John, a charming couple. Lucy starts to get settled into her new lifestyle, happy to leave the past behind until her new friends ask Lucy to help them escape and fake Johns death.

BK Reader spoke to the author about her new book and the struggles of writing during a pandemic.

BK Reader: What made you decide to shift from writing young adult novels to an adult novel?

Leah Konen: I enjoy writing young adult and connecting with teen readers. But when I read on my own, I read mostly crime and mystery novels. Im also a horror movie fanatic. Growing up I had always watched Hitchcock and film noir with my mother. So a lot of my interests were pushing me in a much darker direction.

I also wanted to write about the issues taking place with people in their 20s and 30s. I just wanted to kind of get out of the teen space. It was kind of scary to take this leap into something that I dont really have a lot of experience in. As soon as I started writing, it felt like I really connected to the idea of crafting a mystery. I was playing with all these tropes and these things that Ive always loved about film noir.

BKR: Which crime novels helped inspire ‘All The Broken People?’

LK: I read a lot of novels. But I really like authors like Tanna French and Gillian Flynn. I think Tanna Frenchs Dublin murder style mysteries are just so fantastic, because theyre plotted so well, but are character-driven. She was the first to really dip into more contemporary mysteries. I found that so many of these women were writing these great mysteries and thrillers that would break down a lot of womens issues, like marriage and raising children.

I loved that they were all exploring this with the backdrop of a murder investigation or some sort of crime. Its fun to see women taking charge of these novels. I was just inspired by this explosion of domestic film noir in literature. I just wanted to be an apart of that.

BKR: When drafting, did you intend for your female characters to take up space in your novel?

LK: Anyone who is a woman knows that women do have agency in their lives. Sometimes we dont always see that, especially in crime fiction historically. I write about women I knowwithout all the murder. These are women who are very strong, who have very strong opinions and who make mistakes. For this first thriller, part of it was very intentional. I wanted all the action to be from the women.

BKR: Given the themes in the book, what is one aspect that you want readers to focus on?

LK: I would love for people to focus on the aspect of friendship and how much that affects womens lives. A lot of these booksand I love them allfocus on romantic relationships. For me, the real romance in the book is the friendship in the book. The protagonist, Lucy is basically kind of replacing this family that shes lost and getting out of an abusive romantic relationship. So I think its very true to how people live. I know when my friendships fall apart, it can be one of the most heartbreaking. In YA there is always a best friend element. Id love to see that explored.

BKR: Were in the middle of a pandemic, but there is a lot of pressure on writers to continue to produce work. How are you getting along with your writing and what advice do you have for those who are struggling?

LK: I think everyone should go easy on themselves. Its so hard to be creative right now. Try to find like 10 or 20 minutes a day to squeeze in time to be creative. Its too crazy of a time to give ourselves rigid deadlines. My advice to writers regardless is to try to write every day if you can. Make it a regular practice, like exercise or mediation.

I am on a deadline, so I am still writing. Im also a new mom so Im taking care of a baby all day. Weirdly that almost makes it easier, because while she naps Ill just jump into work while I have a minute. But its nice to have that kind of joy in your life, without having your anxiety consume you all day.

All The Broken People debuts on June 30. To pre-order, go here.

Yannise Jean

Yannise Jean is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in publications like Okayplayer and Well + Good. Follow her on Twitter @yjeanwrites.

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