Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, is a constant game of cat and mouse. In this tense psychological thriller, Mia Dennett’s abduction poses questions about relationships, their boundaries and their limits.
The Good Girl offers an unusual perspective on Stockholm syndrome. Do you believe there are situations when a captor can actually be a protector—and vice versa?
Yes, I absolutely do. I feel that in certain situations where the victim and perpetrator must rely on each other for survival, their roles can evolve from a hierarchical system into a relationship based on mutual understanding—and a knowledge of the fact that their very existence may depend on the other. That dependence on one another could certainly allow a captor to take on the role of protector, or the victim to take on a more assertive role in the relationship.
Mia’s mother plays a major role in the kidnapping investigation. How did your own fears as a mother play into this story?
I sympathize with Eve Dennett on every level. For a mother, having your child vanish into thin air is utterly incomprehensible. I tried hard to explore the emotions I may have felt had it been my child who disappeared, considering everything from fear to sadness to anger. But Eve has more to deal with than just a missing child. She’s also trying to make amends for poor decisions she’s made in the past and suffers from grief, regret and longing all at the same time. This too I can sympathize with; as a mother, it’s easy to make spur-of-the-moment decisions we later regret. Raising children is no easy task, a fact which I’ve tried to make evident in the case of Eve.
Shifting before-and-after perspectives keep readers guessing throughout The Good Girl. What did you find to be the greatest challenge in crafting such a puzzling thriller?
I’d have to say that the greatest challenge came in the editing process. Because of the various twists and turns and the overlapping storylines, every aspect of The Good Girl is tightly connected. As any one detail—no matter how trivial—changed, it unraveled a seemingly endless number of threads, so that I would need to reread the manuscript again and again—and yet again—to make sure I had revised all other mentions of the change—a challenging task, and yet one I enjoyed!
You seem equally at home setting your story in busy Chicago streets or quiet Minnesota woods. Are you a city girl or a country girl?
This is a great question! By and large I’m a city girl. I like a little noise and the close proximity of neighbors; I like the luxuries of city life and knowing there is a grocery store and a coffee shop nearby. That said, I also love the beauty and serenity of the country; I’m always up for a walk through the woods or exploring the countryside—though I have a strong aversion to bugs. Would I like to be trapped inside a rural, rustic cabin for months on end? No, thank you. But a long weekend in the country . . . that’s much more my style, as long as I can get back to the city as soon as the weekend is through.