I Know What You Did, the debut thriller by Cayce Osborne
Author Interview + Book and Author Info+ Pet Corner!
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I Know What You Did
When a bestselling novel fictionalizes the death of her childhood best friend—and accuses her of the murder—Petal Woznewski must figure out who wrote it and why. Truth and fiction collide in this captivating debut novel by Cayce Osborne.
Petal Woznewski is content with her quiet, introverted life in New York City: she has her junk food, her movies, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Gus. That peace is shattered when her name appears on the dedication page of an anonymously written thriller with a cryptic note: “I know what you did, Petal Woznewski. And now everyone else will, too.”
As she reads, Petal realizes the story is rooted in a secret she buried thirty years earlier, when she was fourteen. A secret involving the tragic death of her friend, Megan. A secret that only one other person knows—their old friend, Jenny. Armed with a copy of the book and her own suspicions, Petal returns to her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. There, she discovers more questions than answers.
Jenny has disappeared, and Petal’s old high school crush, Ben, doesn’t know anything about the book—at least not anything he’s telling.As sinister clues pile up, and the thriller’s plot detours dangerously from the facts, Petal has no choice but to confront her past and solve the mystery of who wrote it—before her very real life ends as tragically as the novel.
To purchase I Know What You Did, click on the following link: Penguin Random House.
Interview with Cayce Osborne, author of I Know What You Did
I Know What You Did starts in NYC and ends in Madison, Wisconsin, the place you call home. Tell us why you chose those two locations and how they function in the novel.
New York is the place where my main character Petal ran away to—a big city, where she could get lost among millions. Madison, her hometown, is the place that holds all her secrets—the difficult childhood she ran away from.
It represents everything she’d like to forget, and when she’s forced to leave her protected city life and return to the Midwest, she has to face all that. Things get messy.
Tell us about your publishing journey with I Know What You Did:
This is not the first book I’ve written, but it is the first I’ve published.
It took me a while to figure out not only how to write a novel, but also what kind of novel I wanted to write. The big “what kind of writer am I?” question. I went to school for Journalism and I currently work in science communication, so I needed to switch gears to pursue fiction, and eventually fell in love with mystery novels.
On my journey I’ve had two different agents and went on submission with two different books—neither of which sold. For I Know What You Did, I was unagented and got the book deal by myself. I was lucky enough that my now-editor, Sara J. Henry, was checking the slush pile at Crooked Lane Books the day my email came in.
What should readers know about Petal Woznewski, the main character in I Know What You Did:
Not to talk anyone out of reading my book, but if you like perfect main characters who make all the right decisions without a hair out of place or a wrinkle in their clothes, Petal Woznewski is not for you.
She’s a bit of a disaster, but not without reason. She’s lost everyone she’s ever cared about, and all that death and trauma in her past is difficult to deal with. She self-medicates with pot, junk food, long walks, and action movies. She’s got a great boyfriend, but she can’t let him in.
She’s barely coping and as the book starts, her secrets are being exposed, forcing her out of her comfort zone to confront all the skeletons in her closet.
In addition to your first novel, I Know What You Did, you write short stories. How does your writing process compare between those two categories of fiction? Similar? Different? Describe a writing day for us.
They’re very much the same at the start, jotting down ideas and figuring out where the narrative will start and how it will end.
I get a feel early on whether it’s an idea that requires 5,000 words or 80,000 words. With a short story I dive in immediately and get a draft done so I can figure out how to edit and shape. With a novel I take more time to conceptualize the plot, jotting down any brainstorms that come to me, before I start.
Then comes lots of writing, followed by lots of editing. I’m a mom of two boys and I have a full-time job, so I don’t have a typical writing day. I have to take writing minutes and hours wherever I can grab them. Most often this means writing a bit during my lunch break, while my kids are at evening karate class, and on the weekends.
You love to do arts and crafts. What’s your current project or a recent project you love?
I do love crafts—especially when writing is feeling difficult and my creativity is drained, it’s nice to have a different outlet.
In the past I’ve made stained glass and beaded jewelry and done pencil sketches. Lately, I’ve been painting.
We did a mural in our house over the pandemic, I customized some terra cotta plant pots, and I hand-paint greeting cards when I have time. Next I want to tackle watercolor painting.
What are you working on now?
I just started writing a new book. Another mystery, this one set in a rural Wisconsin town that the residents believe is cursed.
I don’t want to say much more than that now, it’s still in the very early stages. But it has a bigger cast of characters than I’ve written in my other novels, and two main characters, so it’s an exciting challenge.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
It’s so easy to get discouraged, once you start submitting your writing and the rejections come in.
Sometimes it feels like everyone else is hearing yes while you’re hearing no. But I’ve learned there are many reasons why stories and books get rejected, and it’s not always because what you’ve written isn’t good enough.
Editors have specific tastes like everyone else. And if your writing isn’t their taste, it’s going to be a no. If they’ve already said yes to a similar story, it’s going to be a no. But that’s exactly why it’s so important to keep submitting. Because eventually your story will be read by the right person at the right time and you’ll get that coveted yes.
I prefer to think of it as good timing rather than luck.
Author Pet Corner
We have a 3-year-old Australian Shepherd named Confetti—we call him Fetti for short.
He’s a bit lazy for an Aussie, and likes to sleep all day while the kids are off at school, but when they come home it’s playtime.
His favorite things are plain hamburgers, destroying fuzzy dog toys, sleeping with his snout smushed between two pillows, and stealing my spot when I get up off the couch during TV time.
Cayce Osborne, author of I Know What You Did
Cayce Osborne is a writer and graphic designer from Madison, Wis.
When not writing, she can be found traveling, stalking the shelves at her local library, driving her children around, subscribing to the newest streaming service, and attempting arts and crafts of all kinds.
To learn more about Cayce, click on any of the following links: Website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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.