Author Interview with Psychological Thriller Novelist Karen Perry: Author of Girl Unknown

tag: Author Interview with Psychological Thriller Novelist Karen Perry: Author of Girl Unknown

It was the beginning of December, when I had I just started to don sweatshirts and heavy wool socks, that I felt in the mood for something a bit dark. Something to match the cold seeping in off the windows, even as I hunkered down under two layers of blankets. It was just my luck that Henry Holt & Co. had the book for me, a book with just the sort of dreary, foreboding air I was looking for.

288 pages later it was decided I simply had to interview the author as part of my blog tour. Here we are, some weeks later, with a completed Q&A in hand and a newly read suspense novel on the shelf. I hope you enjoy this author interview with Karen Perry. Below you’ll find:

  • The book description for Girl Unknown
  • An excerpt from my full book review
  • Some break-the-ice questions that will allow you to get to know the authors
  • A Q&A about the book itself
  • Some book details including a rating, my favorite quote from the work, page length, and publisher

Book Description: Girl Unknown

David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years―raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.

Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat―but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?


Out of 10

There are few things I enjoy more than reading a psychological thriller novel and being surprised in the last few pages. Part suspense, part domestic noir, Girl Unknown offers an illuminating search into the darker side of human fallibility, moody characters you’ll want to unearth, plus a tense plot with a final twist you won’t see coming.

Read the Full Review

Get to Know the Author

Karen Perry colorKaren Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Karen Gillece and Paul Perry. Karen Gillece is the author of four critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland). Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College Dublin. 

Coffee or Tea?


Paperback or Hardcover?


Describe your current lock screen photo:

Word Of The Day

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Not being listened to.

Where is your favorite place to read?

In an armchair by the fire with my dog asleep on my lap.

Author Interview with Karen Perry on their latest novel Girl Unknown

What first gave you the idea for Girl Unknown?

A conversation in a pub! It was many years ago, I was meeting a guy I used to work with for a drink and a catch-up, and after a couple of pints he let slip that he had a child from a relationship that pre-dated his marriage, a child his wife knew nothing about. I was startled and intrigued, but more than anything, I was convinced that this secret was a ticking time-bomb and that one day his child would come knocking on his door and his wife would find out. I lost touch with the guy shortly after that, but the story stayed with me. When Paul and I were discussing ideas for books, that story surfaced in my mind, and became the germ of the idea for Girl Unknown.

What I loved most about Girl Unknown (other than the thrill I felt reading the final pages, of course) is how well you captured the intricacies of an erratic personality disorder. How did you craft Zoe’s character traits and behavior? Was she based on people you’ve known or built from research? Did you give her a psychiatric diagnosis when outlining her character?

Thank you! I’m delighted that you enjoyed reading the book. I must admit that writing Zoe was good fun! She’s a mercurial character, presenting different sides of herself to different people. I’m fascinated by adolescents – with that hormonal soup running through their veins, they can be monsters one minute, and then sweet and disarming the next. There are shades of different people that Paul and I both know in Zoe – not naming any names! We didn’t give her a psychiatric diagnosis, preferring instead to play with the question of whether she was a sociopath or just a mixed up kid.

You are both highly accomplished Dublin-based authors. Do you find that where you live and write influences the mood of your work?

Yes, to a certain degree. I think our writing is coloured by our experiences, and that includes setting and mood. Dublin has a rich literary history, and a thriving writing community that Paul and I are proud to be part of. It’s a city that has seen a good deal of change in the past few years, with the recession and the more recent economic recovery. That sense of financial uncertainty, the pressure felt by most of Irish society, including ordinary families in suburban areas, is something that has influenced our writing in recent years.

You wrote this book as co-authors. What challenges have you faced writing as a team and what did you find beneficial?

People often assume that because we write together that Paul and I must be married to each other! We’re not, but I do think that, like a good marriage, communication is the key to a successful writing partnership. We have found that whenever we’re experiencing challenges in the writing process, it’s normally because we haven’t seen or spoken to each other as frequently as we should. The best part about working as a team is the mutual support. We trust each other enough to give honest feedback. Our rule from day one has been to leave the egos at the door and just focus on the book.

What most attracts you to the mystery/thriller genre?

It’s such a fun and exciting genre, both as a reader and a writer. What I love most about the genre, is that it explores the darker side of human nature and in that way helps us, perhaps, to understand each other better.

Girl Unknown has been optioned by Tiger Aspect. How are you feeling about the transition from book to film?

Excited! There is always a degree of trepidation when it comes to surrendering your work to another person’s artistic interpretation. But Tiger Aspect is an amazing production company, and I have been a big fan of many of their productions, Peaky Blinders in particular. I am intrigued to see what parts of the book they will choose to focus on, what parts of the story they will draw out. And what a thrill it will be to see real live actors taking on our characters and bringing them to life. I can’t wait!

What books do you feel have inspired you most over the course of your writing career?

That is a difficult question to answer, largely because there are so many of them, and I continue to find inspiration in the novels I’m reading. Perhaps I can best answer this by naming the book that made me want to be a writer: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. It had such a potent mix of ingredients: sex, murder, class conflict, suspense – and told with such imagination, intelligence and flair. It’s the one book I go back to again and again. On a slightly different note, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon is my comfort read. Every writer, indeed everyone who wants to be a writer, should read it!

What’s next for Karen Perry? Are you working on a new book together?

We have recently finished work on a new book called Can You Keep A Secret? It’s a big house murder mystery and we had a lot of fun writing it. One reviewer on this side of the Atlantic summarized it quite succinctly as a posh-people-in-peril story!

Favorite Quote from Girl Unknown

It was as though each of us—in separate and distinct ways—had been plunged back into the past. Fragments of old memories were coming back at unexpected moments… Old ghosts awoke, stirred angrily into life by this girl, like a wasp’s nest struck with a stick.

Karen Perry, Girl Unknown 

Book Details

Verdict: Buy It
Page Length: 304
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Feb 6, 2018) 

Out of 10



I hope you’ve enjoyed this author interview with Karen Perry! Read my full review of Girl Unknown here.

If you liked this post, share it! Your support means everything, you little reader you.

Until next time,


READ NEXT: Author Interview & Mini Review with Francesca Hornak
The Flats Book Review – A Liz Boyle Mystery by Kate Birdsall
Best Mystery/Thrillers 2017

The Breakdown

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  1. Bex

    What did you think of this author interview?

    My favorite response from Karen Perry is definitely in regards to what draws them to the mystery/thriller genre:
    “What I love most about the genre, is that it explores the darker side of human nature and in that way helps us, perhaps, to understand each other better.”

    I couldn’t have said it better.

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