The House in the Pines, debut mystery by Ana Reyes
Author Interview + Book & Author Info
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The House in the Pines
Armed with only hazy memories, a woman who long ago witnessed her friend’s sudden, mysterious death, and has since spent her life trying to forget, sets out to track down answers. What she uncovers, deep in the woods, is hardly to be believed….
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin….
Utterly unique and captivating, The House in the Pines keeps you guessing about whether we can ever fully confront the past and return home.
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The Interview — The House in the Pines
The House in the Pines revolves around a death in the past. Tell us about the relationship between Maya, the protagonist, and Aubrey, her best friend.
Maya and Aubrey were best friends in high school. Maya had always felt like an outsider, more comfortable with her nose in a book than at a party, and Aubrey was the new girl at school when their English teacher paired them up for a project on Emily Dickinson.
The girls bonded over their love of books and of poetry. They were inseparable until the summer after high school when a man named Frank entered their lives, sweeping Maya off her feet and turning the friends against each other. By the end of the summer, Aubrey would be dead, and Maya would suspect Frank of killing her.
The House in the Pines is set in a cabin deep in the woods. What drew you to that environment for your debut novel?
The house in the book is one I’ve been writing about since I was eleven. It appeared in the first story I ever wrote and has been haunting my pages ever since. The book is my exploration of that house, both as a place and a symbol.
Tell us about your publishing journey:
Like a lot of writers, I started out as an avid reader.
The story I wrote at eleven was for a writing contest held by the public library in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The prize was a gift certificate to a local bookstore, so I basically started writing in order to buy more books. (I didn’t win.)
Twenty years would pass before I sat down to write The House in the Pines.
I was in grad school by then, and the book was my MFA thesis. After graduating, I queried agents and was lucky enough to find one who worked with me on the manuscript for almost two years, helping me shape it into the book that would eventually sell.
You also teach creating writing. How does that impact your own writing?
Teaching is, in my opinion, the best education.
You really have to understand something in order to effectively articulate it for someone else. Reading student work and providing feedback is also a bit like strength training; it builds storytelling ability which can then be applied to your own work.
Finally it helps that my students—mostly older adults working on memoirs—are wise and empathetic. I’ve learned at least as much from them as they’ve learned from me.
What can we find you doing when you aren’t writing or teaching writing?
I love to cook and dance—sometimes at the same time!
I also enjoy hiking the trails at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, where I live, or in the Berkshires, where my mom grew up, and where my book is set. And if I’m not doing one of these things, I’m probably reading a book.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my second novel, which I’m very excited about. It’s going to be even creepier than the first!
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Find other writers to exchange work with, talk to, commiserate, and celebrate with. Writing can be a lonely pursuit so connecting with others is key and it helps if they understand what you’re going through. Some of my best notes come from the members of my writing group, and more importantly, I found some of my best friends there too.
Terrific advice. Thank you for spending time with us! Best of luck with your debut.
Ana Reyes — Author of The House in the Pines
Ana Reyes has an MFA from Louisiana State University.
Her work has appeared in Bodega, Pear Noir, The New Delta Review, and elsewhere.
She lives in Los Angeles where she teaches creative writing to older adults at Santa Monica College.
The House in the Pines is her first novel.
To learn more about Ana, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery
The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook. #1 Amazon Bestseller
Header image by jplenio on Pixabay.