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Interview: September 3, 2019

USA Today bestselling author Gina LaManna’s latest novel, PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN, revolves around four women, each of whom confesses to having committed the same crime --- alone. In this interview conducted by Carol Fitzgerald, the president and co-founder of The Book Report Network, LaManna talks about what inspired this intriguing plotline; her decision to incorporate such complicated subjects as infertility and violence against women into the story; why she especially loved writing the detective interviews that appear throughout the book; and her upcoming projects, which include a second thriller that is scheduled to be released next year. Every book starts with a kernel of an idea. What was yours for PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN?

Gina LaManna: The idea for PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN came about because of one question: What would happen if multiple people confessed to the same crime? That got me to wondering: Who would ever do such a thing and, more importantly, why? Once I had the initial question, the rest of the story pieced itself together with time.

BRC: When you were writing, did you write each character completely and then edit them to work together, or did you write chronologically?

GL: A combination! First, the characters and their personalities emerged in my head. Once I had a clear vision of each woman, I mapped out their individual storylines completely --- one at a time. But when I began to write, I started from the beginning and continued straight through to the end.

BRC: Each of the four women --- Ginger, Kate, Emily and Lulu --- has her own story. Was there one that you enjoyed writing more than another?

GL: Lulu felt a bit indulgent for me to write. I think there’s a real sparkle to Lulu, and she has a bit of cheeky humor. Failed marriages aside, I’ve heard from a lot of readers that they want to be Lulu when they grow up. With that said, each woman was special to write for her own reasons, and I think I relate to all of them in little bits and pieces.

BRC: Lulu is someone from outside their college group. Why did you decide to bring her into the mix?

GL: I think Lulu has a lot to offer, and I wanted to incorporate the perspective of someone older than the other women. She has lived a lot of life and has a lot of wisdom, but is also vulnerable herself. I think she’s a powerful character despite her overall good-natured personality.

BRC: Issues of infertility and violence against women are woven into the story. These are complicated subjects. What drew you to include them?

GL: Unfortunately, these are subjects that a lot of women are forced to deal with throughout their lives. While PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN is completely fictional, I didn’t want to shy away from the realities and messy complications of life. While the wedding and the murder backdrop may feel larger than life, I wanted the heart of this story to be relatable. And that comes down to the women, their backstories, and what eventually culminated in their unique journeys to Serenity Spa & Resort.

BRC: The interviews with the detective about the crime appear throughout the book. Were those written sequentially? Or did you plot those out as you were writing each woman’s section?

GL: I loved writing the detective interviews! They were crucial to the plot, but also a fun way to infuse a bit of the women’s personalities in short snippets into the story. They were written as I wrote each woman’s section, though I did go back and edit several once the ending was complete, and I had a better idea of how the story concluded.

BRC: While there is an opulent wedding as the backdrop to the story, we get to know very little about the bride. She always is seen from afar. Tell us why you chose the wedding as a setting and why the bride does not interact more with the four guests.

GL: The bride’s appearances --- or lack thereof --- is a story in and of itself. As readers will quickly find out, Whitney was once close friends with Ginger, Emily and especially Kate. One theme of PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN explores the idea of wealth and how having it --- or not --- can change a person. Without spoiling the bride’s more subtle character arc, this is a big part of the reason that Whitney doesn’t have much face time with the other women.

BRC: I found myself thinking of the five women in BIG LITTLE LIES who also all claimed that they were guilty. I could not picture men all claiming guilt. Did you always know that the plot was going to have them assigning themselves guilt?

GL: From the moment I came up with the story, it was never a question that the women would assign themselves guilt. It had to be that way in order for the rest of the story to fall into place.

BRC: The title is terrific. Was it always PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN?

GL: Yes! I love titles. I almost always come up with a title before the book because it’s very motivating to me. I had PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN in mind before I ever started writing it.

BRC: What are you working on now, and when can readers expect to see it?

GL: I am working on my second suspense novel similar in style to PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN, which likely will be released in 2020. I also have several books in my ongoing cozy mystery series that will be releasing over the next few months.