The Family Tree by crime writing duo Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry!
Author Interview + Author & Book Info + Author Pet Corner times two!
The Family Tree
⭐”Keeps the shocks coming right up to the climatic end…” Lisa Gardner⭐
The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree…
Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer…
The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies.
Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?
A gripping, original thriller for fans of My Lovely Wife, Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and anyone who’s ever wondered what their family tree might be hiding…
Praise for The Family Tree:
“A very original take on the serial killer theme with plenty of jaw-dropping moments.” Alex Pine
“A fresh, inventive take on the thriller. Brilliant and deliciously dark until the very last page.” Jeneva Rose
“Pacey and compellingly creepy.” Sharon Dempsey
“This twisted and twisty thriller is sure to keep you up at night – either because you can’t stop reading, or because you’re too afraid to sleep.” Megan Collins
“A fast-paced thrill ride, with dark twists and clever plotting that had me triple-checking the locks before I could finally fall asleep” Andrea Bartz
To purchase The Family Tree, click on any of the following links:
The Family Tree — The Interview
The Family Tree launched in the UK and in e-book form in the US & Canada in June, then in Holland in September, then the US hardback in October. How did all those launches differ? What’s it like now to have it out everywhere?
It definitely threw a curve ball into our PR and Marketing plans to have the paperback come out months after the e-book and audio were released in the US.
We had a great UK launch in June at Steph’s house. Nicole travelled down to Charlotte, NC so we could celebrate together since we’d both been vaccinated by then. We did some great interviews with international authors around that launch. We are just on the heels of the paperback launch here in the US and it was definitely different but still amazing.
We’ve gotten to chat with some wonderful thriller authors in an IG live series we are doing and have gotten a great response from friends, family, and book bloggers now that it’s available here. It’s been exciting going into stores and seeing The Family Tree on the shelves, which has definitely been the most fun so far and made everything feel so real.
Now that it’s out everywhere, we are finally taking a moment to relax and regroup. It was a sprint to the finish line, but we loved every minute of it. In the middle of all that, we were finishing up book 2 so it’s been a whirlwind. After a bit of a break, we are thrilled to dive into a new concept we’ve been batting around for book 3.
I have to ask, how did you end up launching in Holland? That’s so cool!
We were so lucky that our editor was able to sell to HarperCollins Holland pretty immediately. Before it went to the Frankfurt Book Fair last October, our editor sent it out to their partners and Holland grabbed it quickly. They kept the translated title and cover pretty close to the other versions, so it’s been so cool seeing it in another language.
When will we get details on the as-yet-unnamed book two?
Actually, our publisher just did the title and cover reveal! The title is When She Disappeared and it’s not a sequel to The Family Tree, rather a new concept for us that leans slightly more into psychological suspense. It’s very atmospheric and character-driven.
When She Disappeared is about a high school “it” girl, Jessie Germaine, who goes missing right before graduation in their small mountain town. We follow Jessie’s childhood friend, Margo, who left home after graduating and hasn’t come home until now, fifteen years later, to help her dad recuperate from a surgery.
The day she returns home, Jessie’s remains are discovered. Margo teams up with a high school friend who’s now working on the show Into Thin Air, an old, beloved documentary show about missing persons that is doing a reboot, and turns up in town to investigate Jessie’s case that the police bungled.
It’s one of those towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has something to hide.
To pre-order When She Disappeared, click the link here.
Learn all about Steph and Nicole’s writing process by watching our awesome interview on YouTube! Click the link here.
Did your writing process together change for the second book?
It actually did not change much. We assumed we would learn all kinds of new ways to collaborate from writing the first one, and while we feel like our writing and editing skills have improved a lot since we wrote The Family Tree, our process has remained the same for the most part.
The structure on When She Disappeared is more straight forward than The Family Tree, so we didn’t divide it up in the same ways. But we still wrote our detailed outlined and started claiming chapters like before. A few adjustments for the new structure were really all that changed.
Describe your individual writing routines, do you have a specific place? Time of day? Does it vary?
Nicole: I have two spots where I write but both are right in front of a big window. I live on the fourth floor in Queens, NY so it’s great to watch the world go by down below while I write.
One spot is in my living room and the other is in the dining room that we’ve basically turned into an office for me and my niece, who is going to college. I tend to write later in the day, after lunch time, and on weekends. I usually have one cocktail or glass of wine to loosen up my brain. And when we are in heavy writing or editing mode, I’ll throw an iChing once a week to see what the cosmos have in mind for my writing that week.
I’ll also do a Chakra cleansing meditation once a week. It helps me focus and clear out any bad energy.
Steph: Since I have rescue puppy, Ketto, who just turned a year old and is quite the early riser, and also a busy day job as a Creative Director, my brain is always way too tired to write at the end of the day.
Ketto wakes me up early anyway, so I always get my writing done first thing in the morning before work with her snuggled up next to me and a cup of coffee. Anything I can’t squeeze in during the week, I fit in on the weekend.
Depending on my mood, I either write on the couch with soothing TV (of things I’ve already seen so I’m not too distracted) on softly in the background, or at my desk in my home office with my multiple monitors set up and overlooking our peaceful backyard.
What are you working on now?
Since we just finished launching our paperback of The Family Tree and turning in copyedits on When She Disappeared, we will probably take a bit of a break for a couple of weeks to regroup. But we had an idea a few months back for another thriller and we are excited to start developing the concept. We don’t want to give too much away yet, but it’s a story we think a lot of women especially will relate to and will keep readers guessing until the very end.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Nicole: The biggest piece of advice I can give any writer is: be tenacious.
Publishing is a hard industry; you will get countless rejections and it can be soul crushing. But that just makes the wins so much better. I think I had somewhere over 300 rejections on my first solo novel, Past This Point, before I found my agent. I was determined not to give up. And my second piece of advice would be to sit on any notes you get from anyone on your work. You’ll want to disagree, say it’s great as is, and tell them they are wrong. They might be, but your emotions can get in the way of seeing that. So read them, put them away, then the next day take them out and read them again.
Then hopefully, you can see them through a clearer lens and decide if you agree or not.
Steph: I have to agree with Nicole on being tenacious. We hit several roadblocks on our path to publication and we just kept pivoting and pushing through with determination until we found a way to get our foot in the door. The publishing industry is a lot of “hurry up, then wait” so it’s hard to keep your pedal to the metal and see past rejection and long periods of silence.
But it’s worth it when you get to the other side.
Great advice! And great to have you both visit!
Author Pet Corner!
Nicole: I have 3 pets, 1 dog and two cats
Jackson: The area I live in in Queens is very pet friendly. So when someone dumped a dog on the street (Jackson Avenue), the whole dog-loving community banded together to get him the healthcare he needed.
He had a mass on his leg, he’d been hit by a car and was underweight. We did a GoFundMe to raise over $3K for his surgeries but when he was healthy, no one could take him.
There was no way I was letting this dog go to a shelter after all that. So I took him in.
I’ve had him for about 5 years, but he’s getting older and slower. At thirteen, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have him but I’m grateful that I decided to keep him.
They think he’s a Bernese Mountain Dog and Border Collie mix.
Ollie: Ollie is an 8-year-old Russian Blue short-hair. I got him at a shelter where I went with my previous dog, Zeke, to volunteer to walk their dogs.
When we got to reception, Zeke walked up to one of the cat cages and Ollie started rubbing himself against Zeke through the cage.
I realized I’d just adopted a cat. Ollie is incredibly charming and smart. One of the best decisions I ever made.
Cinder: Cinder is my niece’s cat she brought from CA when she moved in with me 5 years ago.
My niece was working at a pizza place in CA, waiting for my dad to pick her up from work one winter night, when she saw a kitten run into the engine of a parked car.
She went in and got the person to open the hood and there was Cinder huddled up next to the engine to try and keep warm. So my niece adopted her. Ollie and Cinder a best buds now.
Steph: I have a very sweet and playful rescue puppy named Ketto, who just turned 1 year old in September.
We adopted her at 8 weeks old during the pandemic after she had been found wandering stray in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about an hour and a half from Charlotte.
We did a DNA kit on her recently and discovered despite her coloring (she has long soft black fur with white front legs as well as some white along her chest and back toes) that she’s actually mostly Golden Retriever!
She also has a bit of Australian Cattle Dog and Staffordshire Terrier mixed in.
She’s got the biggest heart and always keeps me company around the house while I work and write.
Her name, Ketto, comes from the name of a song from a concert my now-husband and I went to on one of our first dates ten years ago.
We loved the song and joked that if we ever got a dog that would be their name….and here we are!
Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry, authors of The Family Tree
Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime.
After Steph relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018, they continued to collaborate creatively. Separated by 5 states, they spend countless hours scheming via Facetime and editing each other’s typos in real time on live Google docs.
The Family Tree is the writing duo’s first co-authored crime novel.
To learn more about the duo, click on their names, photo, or any of the following links:
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020