***Major plot spoilers for both Beautiful Lies and Sliver of Truth***
When I closed the book on Ridley, I thought we were done. I knew that at the end of Beautiful Lies there were a lot of unanswered questions, that justice was not served and that a lie from Jake had been left to stand. But, I figured: that’s life. It’s not always fair and we don’t always get what we want, or even what we need. What was important to me was that Ridley was on her way forward, that she had lived to fight another day. Sometimes that’s all we get.
But then I started hearing her voice again. And the questions of her life kept nagging at me, as I know they were nagging at her … and at my readers, too, as evidenced by a slew of international email. So I started writing Sliver of Truth.
Sliver felt so different from Beautiful Lies. Ridley was darker, suffering from the depression that was inevitable after all that she’d endured. At the beginning of the book, her relationship with Jake is already faltering. And the question of her father, of her biology looms large in her mind. She’d always thought of herself as Ben’s daughter, the daughter of a good and righteous man. But instead her biology links her to Max, a troubled man, as we come to find out in Sliver, a dangerous man. She is deep in thought about who she is. Is she a product of nurture? Or is there some dark gene dormant, a gene that comes from Max?
In Beautiful Lies, Jake tells Ridley a lie and she believes him (though many of my clever readers did not!). In Sliver, the question of Jake-who is he, where did he come from, what have been his motivations-is addressed, though maybe not totally answered. And then there’s the arrival of a new character, Dylan Grace, who’s goal, it seems, is to destroy what little Ridley has left to hold onto.
Sliver is more international in scope. In Beautiful Lies, Ridley’s story takes place in her beloved New York City, and the fictional area in New Jersey where she grew up. But Sliver takes her from her comfort zone. She chases answers from New York to London. And it is in England where Ridley learns the terrible truth about Max. Or does she? As the title implies, we only see a sliver of the people we know. The worst among us sometimes act with virtue. The best sometimes make horrible choices. There are no villains in life, and so, there are no true villains in my fiction. Just people, flawed, wonderful, disappointing and heroic-sometimes all of those things.
Just as there was no easy way to end Beautiful Lies, there was no easy end for Sliver of Truth. Maybe it’s because Ridley has more to say later; or maybe it is because her story ends for us in the middle of her life. One day we’re with her, the next day we’re not. Like someone we meet for an evening, who tells us her story, and whom we wonder if we’ll see again.
The truth is that I just don’t know what’s next for Ridley, or when I’ll start hearing her voice again. But I will tell you that in Sliver of Truth Ridley answers some important questions for herself. And at the end of the novel, she is stronger, more empowered than she was at its beginning. And that’s something. That’s a lot.
But stay tuned. Because I was sure I’d end Ridley’s story with Beautiful Lies. If Ridley has taught me one thing, it’s this: Never say never.