If you haven’t heard any whispers about this book or come across it somewhere then it is my pleasure to introduce you to It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell. I am also thrilled to host a brilliant Q&A with Michele Campbell today. Enjoy!
About the Author
Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.
A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.
She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.
Follow @MCampbellBooks @HQStories Visit michelecampbellbooks.com
Buy It’s Always the Husband
About the book
Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump. How did things come to this?
As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know). I’ll answer with the book I’m currently reading, because it’s SO good that I can’t think of anything else at the moment. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, which is the story of two sisters in occupied France, and so vivid that I feel I’m living it. I am toying with the idea of writing historical fiction. It’s inspiring to see an author make the past come alive so completely.
Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? The best way to learn to write is to read, so why not read the greats? I have always drawn inspiration from the classic authors I studied in high school and college, authors like Edith Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Henry James. Not because they wrote great “literature”, but because their stories were compelling and accessible and always featured the best, most nuanced characters. Their work thrills, inspires, elevates, educates — but also can’t be put down. In more recent times, you see this in the writing of authors like Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and many more. I’m not by any means trying to compare my writing to theirs, but you asked who inspired me, so….
The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Lol, wallet-wise, it’s definitely the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I love a rollicking time-travel romance — who doesn’t? I read all the books, then when I heard the tv series was coming I had to subscribe to the cable network that was showing it just to watch that one show. A pretty penny, but worth it.
Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person? A series-binger, utterly. When there’s a great film out there I will make an effort to get out and see it, but in recent times I feel that the most interesting, suspenseful, character-driven stories, and the ones that most speak to me as a female reader, are to be found on television. Film has become very focused on super-heroes, hardware and special effects. In the past year I have devoured quite a few wonderful series from tv, including Big Little Lies, The Crown, Stranger Things, Outlander (a favorite book series of mine as well), Game of Thrones and others.
Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet ?Henry the VIII or any of his wives, so I can pick up plot tips for a sequel to It’s Always the Husband. 😉
You explore the depth of friendship and loyalty in your story. A topic, which I think will resonate with many readers.
In relation to that and the events in the book I think the most obvious question is whether Kate, Aubrey and Jenny really are friends or are they just acquaintances of convenience? Both. They came together at a very intense and vulnerable moment in their lives, when they’d just started at university. Each girl has her own issues and problems that come to the forefront in the first year. Because of this, they bonded in a way they never would at any other time. That friendship, and co-dependency (your term, but a very accurate one), was real. They turned to each other, and there were moments when they genuinely loved one another. But the glue that comes from shared values and experiences was lacking. They were always susceptible to turn on one another in a pinch, and, well, you see the results.
I am really interested in the inspiration for this story. Is it based on personal experiences, life in general or just a fictional war of friendships and betrayal? I took inspiration from my own college days, and also from the fact that I was living in a college town at the time I began writing the book. I knew I wanted to write about female friendship gone very, very wrong. I needed a setting that would explain why three extremely different women, who have little in common and are clearly bad influences on one another, might form an intense friendship. I found the answer in memories of my own freshman year of college. You leave home for the first time and are suddenly surrounded by kids your own age, who may be smarter, prettier, richer, and, yes, nastier than you. That moment is incredibly intense, fraught with drama and peril as well as learning and growth. I think it makes for a very compelling read!
Would you agree that there is an element of co-dependency between Aubrey and Kate? Absolutely, and with Jenny, too. Aubrey and Kate are both damaged by their childhoods. Kate has lost her mother at an early age, and had difficult relationships with her father and — as she tells it — a succession of wicked step-mothers. She has the means to indulge her sorrows in bad behavior without ever paying the price. But she needs acolytes, as well as loyal retainers to clean up after her. Aubrey adores and worships her, and Jenny keeps order. Kate needs them, but they both need something from her. Maybe it’s access to her glittering social world, or the stamp of approval that comes from her great name. Aubrey is extremely intelligent but simply not equipped emotionally to navigate the world of Carlisle College. She grabs onto Kate like a life preserver, much to her disadvantage. And over and over again, Jenny cleans up the mess. Why? Jenny is worth paying attention to. She’s not the splashiest of the three main characters, but she’s perhaps the cleverest, and always has an ulterior motive.
Is it always the husband, unless it’s the best friend. The two people, aside from family, who tend to be closest to a person. Was exploring the aspect of betrayal being so close to loyalty and love being so close to hatred, intentional on your part?Yes, completely intentional. Suspense and psychological thrillers by nature explore the dark impulses that exist in the hearts of normal people. Those impulses are most likely to be awakened when our most intimate relationships go wrong. I’m much more interested in that dynamic than I am in the motives of psychopaths or serial killers. There are two unnatural deaths in this book, either or both of which could be called a murder. Both deaths are the result of slow-burn emotions by people who would never think of themselves as criminals. My goal is to get the reader sufficiently inside the heads of these “killers” to understand and even empathize with their actions. Maybe we’re all capable of murder, given the right circumstances. That’s what scares me.
Throughout the book Kate makes decisions which make it appear as if her intent is to harm or upset the apple cart. Are these the actions of a traumatised young girl/woman or is she a narcissist? Great question. To me, the answer is, both. But the reason I’ve given each of the three main characters her own chapters is to allow the reader to get inside her head. Each reader can then answer this question for herself.
Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odd ones. Thank you for the fantastic questions. They are all so interesting, and really made me think. A very enjoyable interview.
Loyalty and friendship play a major role in this story, especially the friendships between women. The friendship between Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny is forged during their college years. The three of them are from different walks of life and are thrown together when they become roommates, which is the beginning of this tale of betrayal and secrets.
Kate returns to the roost, and her friends, after many years of hiding from the truth. Well that isn’t really true, Kate is only interested in the here and now, and herself. So nothing has really changed except maybe that her friends are now no longer as willing to put up with her narcissistic ways. Friends can become enemies in a heartbeat.
Campbell examines the boundaries of the friendship between the women. How would you define loyalty between your best friend and yourself? Is there really any such thing as complete and utter loyalty or true friendship? Personally I think you have to go through your absolute worst times to find out just how tight your friendships are. Count the people still stood there after the walls have come tumbling down around you, and the majority of your so-called friends have suddenly forgotten you exist, there is no better eye-opener.
The other element of the story the author explores is whether or not we are all killers at heart. In some of us the urge just sleeps more deeply than in others. Also whether the still developing brain of a young person makes them as culpable as an adult committing the same crime. A rash decision, a gut reaction with fatal consequences. It could happen to anyone, unless of course it isn’t an accident at all.
Kudos to Campbell for the ending, it’s sneaky and done in an almost nonchalant way. You sort of think it’s that person, then get diverted by a few red herrings, and end up being surprised.
It’s Always the Husband is an in depth look at our closest relationships and if they can weather the darkest of secrets. It also examines the thin line between love and hate in friendships. Is there really any such thing as loyalty when your own survival is at stake?
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