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October 28, 2019

A degree in psychology helped Rivers develop nuanced characters in her first, but not last, book of psychological suspense. And growing up in a small town helped her create a realistic setting for the novel

You’ve stated that All the Broken People is your first novel of psychological suspense. How was writing this different from the other genres you’ve written in?

It was thrilling to write in this genre because it allowed me to delve into the motivation and psychology behind disturbing behavior. I’m a firm believer in the idea that all behavior has a root and that “evil” is not a good enough explanation. I strive to understand why people—even the most despicable—do the things they do, because I think we can solve more problems through understanding than through avoidance. I believe that fiction gives context to things that happen in real life, so I hope to craft narratives that are both entertaining and insightful.

Did your master’s degree in psychology help you in writing this novel?

Absolutely. Understanding the complexities of social and family dynamics, the psychology and outcomes of addiction, and the nuances of and misconceptions about domestic violence helped me craft characters that were truly relatable. I hope that readers will gain empathy for others and a deeper understanding of the consequences of action and behavior patterns.\

How do you think this book stands out among the thriller genre?

I’ve traded some of the fast pacing in traditional thrillers for a more intensive study of character and circumstance. Readers will find themselves immersed in Alice’s world, even when the tension is purely psychological.

It can be difficult to nail the “small-town vibe.” What advice would you give to other authors attempting to set their works in small towns or rural areas?

Go there. Spending time in small towns, getting to know the locals, and paying attention to the political and economic situations present in daily life can really place a writer into the picture they are painting. Google Earth is a great resource, but so is having a slice of pie with coffee at a local diner. Small towns are characters in and of themselves. There are commonly held attitudes and beliefs, as well as communal behaviors that are hard to see unless you engage with the people living there. If you can, go there and be part of the setting.

What’s next for you?

I am working on a series that explores the dynamics of a sister relationship within the context of a small-town sex trafficking operation. Having been raised in a small town, I have seen the way that good intentions can cover up or even support bad behavior. I’m looking forward to examining that and the topic of sexual predation in the places that we assume are safe.