The novelist, whose new thriller is ''One Step Too Far'' likes to read many genres : ''To me, books are like ice cream and you always want ice cream, it's just a question of which flavor you're craving at the moment.''

.- What books are on your night stand?

''Razorblade Tears,'' by S.A. Cosby, and Gregg Hurwitz's new Orphan X thriller, ''Dark Horse.'' Cosby is a new author for me who, given all the buzz, I can't wait to discover. Hurwitz is one of my must-reads. I like to switch up between fresh voices and fan favorites.

.- What's the last great book you read?

''Iron Widow,'' by Xiran Jay Zhao, a Y.A. title I technically bought as a Christmas gift for my daughter, then couldn't resist reading before wrapping. Ummm, oops? Except I really loved it and stayed up till 3.a.m. to finish. Now my daughter is under orders to read it immediately because I'm desperate to talk about the story. Welcome to Christmas in our house.

.- Describe your ideal reading experience (when, what, where, how)

Curled up on my sofa, with a fire crackling in the fireplace, blanket on my lap, and two dogs snuggled up for additional warmth. Then I have the entire day to crack open a long-awaited novel and read from beginning to end. I currently have Kristin Hannah's ''The Four Winds'' set aside for such a luxurious experience.

.- What books, if any most influenced your decision to become a writer?

''The Far Pavilions,'' by M.M.Kaye. I read the historical saga for the first time when I was 12 and was totally transfixed. That kind of narrative power, the ability to transport a young girl from boring suburbia to 19th century India, left me awed. I thought, Someday, I want to be able to do this!

.- What's the best book you've ever received as a gift?

That's a tie between ''The House in the Cerulean Sea,'' by T.J. Klune, and ''The Midnight Library,'' by Matt Haig. Both gists from my daughter, who clearly has excellent taste.

.- What do you read when you're working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

I know some authors say they can't read novels while they're working on their own, but I'm not one of them. I read anything at any time. While researching a novel, I may read more nonfiction on various topics, including true crime [ love Ann Rule and Gregg Olsen ]. 

Otherwise, my own real quirk is that I like to switch up genres. For example, after reading a bunch of thrillers in a row, I might then read some historicals or women's fiction titles, then maybe fantasy or Y.A.

To me, books are like ice cream and you always want ice cream, it's just a question of which flavors you're craving at the moment.

.-  What makes a good thriller?

The best thriller excel at combining compelling characters with breakneck pacing. You're heavily invested in the main characters while abandoning all household chores, missing your subway stop and staying up way too late as you race from chapter to chapter to find out what happens next.

When readers tell me they ignored their children and showed up late to work just to finish one of my novels, I feel good about myself.

.- You're organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, would you invite to share it with you?

Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou and Frederik Backman. I grew up reading Agatha Christie, of course; she and Stephen King remain the strongest literary influences on my own work.

The chance to talk to Christie about being the female mystery author of her day would be amazing! Maya Angelou's ''I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings'' was one of those definitive works that pierced my heart and opened my eyes.

Her words are so beautiful; I would love to just sit and listen to her speak. And Frederik Backman is one of my new fave authors from a ''A Man Called Ove'' yo ''Anxious People.''

His sense of humor, but more importantly, his uncanny knack for capturing human nature in all its imperfect glory, captivates me. The three of them at a table - I'd record the entire event, but never share on social media.

I'd just hold it tight to my chest, a secret treasure I could bring out and review when the blank page seems too daunting.

.- What are you planning on reading next?

''Dava Shastri's Last Day,'' by Kirthana Ramisetti, which my daughter gave me for Christmas. She would like the record to show she didn't read it before wrapping it. Where she got such self-control, I'll never know.

I'll definitely share ''Dava Shastri'' with her once I'm done, so the next best thing to reading a novel is getting to talk about it with a fellow book lover. I think of it as the literary life cycle. Read a book. Share a book. Get a recommendation for a new book. And all is well with the universe.

 The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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