Katie Crouch is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Girls in Trucks. She is also the author of Men and Dogs, Abroad, and the YA series The Magnolia League. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Slate, and Salon. A MacDowell Fellow, she teaches at Dartmouth College and lives in Vermont.
In this post, Crouch discusses how she combined both personal experience and research when it came to the setting of her newest release, Embassy Wife, and much more!
Name: Katie Crouch
Literary agent: Rob McQuilkin
Book title: Embassy Wife
Release date: July 13, 2021
Elevator pitch for the book: A woman moves with her family to Namibia for her husband’s new job, only to realize he had ulterior motives for bringing them there having to do with a secret from his past.
Previous titles by the author: Girls in Trucks, Abroad, Men and Dogs
What prompted you to write this book?
My own husband Peter won a Fulbright to Namibia in 2016, so our family moved to Windhoek on Trump’s inauguration day. We had a 7- year-old and a 6-week-old baby, and everything was just nuts. Baboons broke into our house and stole baby formula … I careened into a warthog because I was driving on the wrong side of the road … that sort of thing. (The warthog was fine. The car wasn’t.) I was desperately lonely, and quickly became “adopted” by the local State Department families, who were true characters. All of these experiences I had been amassing snowballed quickly into a novel about female friendships during times of personal crisis.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
I find writing books like building a house. First, I need material. Because of where I was in life, my bricks were made of satire. Then, I need a shape. In this case, I decided to give everyone a secret that would be revealed at the end. At first, the main secret was much darker, involving both a murder and a terminal illness. But I was having such a sad time writing it, I almost threw it away. So I took a breath and lightened it up, then started having a great time. I’m told the reader now does, too.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Because I’m writing about people from a different country, I was very, very careful to research the hell out of this material. I lived in Namibia, I traveled all over, I interviewed people, I recorded oral histories. Then I had two Namibian writer/journalists read the book for any mistakes. We live in a time where one can get information on pretty much anything existing. For me, that means writing a book of authentic fiction means getting all the details and voices right, as well as making sure every character has a full range of emotional depths and human desires.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I didn’t see the big plot twist at the end until my subconscious appeared and hit me with it in the face. I adore it when that happens.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
A good time! And some new thoughts on long relationships.
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
Unplug the Wifi and write a thousand words before lunch.