(CBS Local)– Megan Collins had never seen a character in a book that dealt with anxiety like hers, so she decided to create a character in her new book “Behind The Red Door: A Novel.”
Collins’ novel follows a woman named Fern Douglas who sees the news about a missing woman in Maine named Astrid Sullivan and is positive she knows her. The dark, tense and dramatic book documents Douglas’ trip into the past and the evidence she discovers that connects her to Sullivan. The author says she truly found her voice with this book.
“When I wrote The Winter Sister, my debut, I didn’t necessarily know I was writing within the thriller, psychological suspense genre,” said Collins in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I just knew I had this certain story to tell. When I was writing Behind The Red Door, I was much more conscious of that decision of how it would be delivered to readers. I still told the story I wanted to tell. I always put my characters through a lot. I feel bad for them. I needed to make sure I was balancing the plot that was always moving forward and keep the reader wanting to know what was going to happen with the emotional story of the character.”
Collins was intentional in highlighting Douglas’ bout with anxiety, the medication she takes and her therapy. The author says her main character is constantly battling her anxious thoughts versus reality.
“When she starts to feel like she has this connection to this kidnapping victim from a long time ago who has now gone missing again, she’s like is this real or is that my anxiety,” said Collins. “That’s the start of her journey and it kind of goes into all these other places. It’s definitely a balancing act in making sure you’re keeping everything moving and keeping everything suspenseful, but also being authentic to what’s going on with your character and creating an arc that is going to be a satisfying journey for them overall.”
“Behind The Red Door” is available now wherever books are sold and Collins hopes readers can think about anxiety in a different way when they read this book.
“On the one hand, it was cathartic to be able to write that, but on the other hand, when I’m constantly writing about someone who is looking for the danger out there it feeds my own anxiety too,” said Collins. “Overall, the experience was really good for me as a writer and someone who deals with anxiety. For me, it was a really fulfilling experience as a writer to try to bring that to the page and try to hopefully get readers to see that it’s not something you can just turn off. Various people find different ways to live with it.”
Watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.