You are currently viewing Thorn City: Debut Suspense

Thorn City: Debut Suspense

Thorn City, a debut suspense novel by Pamela Statz

Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!

Don’t miss any debut author interviews, click the link here for more.

Thorn City

Thorn City

Suspected murder, eclectic food trucks, and artisanal cocaine: just another day in Thorn City.

It’s the night of the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala—a gathering of Portland’s elite. Dressed to kill in sparkling minidresses, best friends Lisa and Jamie attend as “paid to party” girls. They plan an evening of fake flirtations, karaoke playlists, and of course, grazing the catering.

Past and present collide when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician who also happens to be Lisa’s estranged mother. Awkward . . . When Lisa was sixteen, Ellen had her kidnapped and taken to the Lost Lake Academy—a notorious boarding school for troubled youth.

To make matters worse, Lisa’s boyfriend Patrick crashes the party to meet his new boss—Portland’s food cart drug kingpin.

These unfortunate encounters spur Lisa into making a fateful choice that traps her, Jamie, and Patrick in Ellen’s web.

As earth-shattering secrets are revealed, will they survive Ellen’s schemes or be sacrificed to her blind ambition?

To purchase Thorn City, click any of the following links: Amazon,, Powells

Interview with the Author of Thorn City, Pamela Statz


Thorn City is set in Portland, Oregon. Tell us about that environment and how it impacts events in the story: 

My personal experience with Portland is that it is a fun, messy, occasionally dangerous, incredibly creative city with many friendly and generous people.

My goal was to make Portland a character, a place to love and hate, to empathize with and to cheer for. I included many real locations based on personal experience — rushing a friend to Good Samaritan after an accident and sitting for hours in the waiting room, standing in the hot sun for a table at Screen Door, attending extravagant work parties in sketchy parts of town, enjoying a martini at the University Club bar, and almost colliding with a bicyclist on a test ride at River City Bikes.

Many locations are fictional, but they’re all based somewhat on reality. I hope readers enjoy what they learn about Portland, blemishes and all.


There are so many different personalities from different backgrounds in Thorn City; how did you carry out your character research?

When I first moved to Portland, I was sitting at a bar with a friend. We were swapping stories about our backgrounds, and she shared that her parents had her kidnapped and sent to a boarding school for troubled teens. She was there for over two years.

I was stunned by what she told me about her time at the school. That conversation is what really triggered the book. My heroes Lisa, Patrick and Jamie are fictional characters but their experiences at the Lost Lake Academy are grounded in truth. I started with their bios: what were their parents like, their rooms at home, their friends and siblings, how did they end up at the Academy, how they would deal with reentering the ‘real world’ after the trauma they experienced – and the story just grew from there.

The fun part was creating a cast of villains that would wreak havoc on my young heroes’ lives. I was inspired by vivid personalities I encountered while employed at Lucasfilm, WIRED, Wieden+Kennedy, and Nike, in addition to friends and frenemies.


Thorn City combines humor and the twists and turns of a thriller. How did you manage to combine the two?

I wanted the book to be humorous but also very respectful to Lisa, Jamie and Patrick’s traumatic experience at the Lost Lake Academy. The Academy is fictional but much of what I depict is based on first hand accounts from individuals who generously shared their experiences attending therapeutic boarding schools.

As I wrote, and the characters became more and more realized, I found that Lisa and Jamie were hilarious and sarcastic and they loved cracking each other up. For them, humor is a survival mechanism.

George, who is an advertising executive going through a midlife crisis, was very easy to make fun of since he takes himself so seriously. I’ve been collecting George quotes for many years now and I found that writing his character was quite cathartic.


What is your favorite thing about food trucks?

The names! Here is a sample from local Portland Food Truck Pods: Chicken and Guns, Pyro Pizza, Krazy Cups, Mac Shak, Breaking Buns, Tito’s Taquitos, Farmer and The Beast, Kim Jong Grillin, Bake on the Run, Frybaby, Philly Billy… Whew. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.


You and my husband both grew up on dairy farms in Wisconsin and graduated from UW- Madison, then left the Midwest for the West Coast. How do your childhood and college experiences inform you as a writer? 

I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and I’m the twelfth of thirteen children. Navigating that many personalities at a young age was challenging, but it revealed to me how people can view the exact same situation in entirely different ways.

I think my childhood developed my ability to step into any character’s shoes and make them sympathetic. After graduating from UW-Madison, I moved to San Francisco and worked at Wired, Lucasfilm and a few tech companies. During that time, I met many vivid personalities, attended extravagant work parties, and listened to a lot of hot air in meetings.

My fictional advertising agency Burnam & Green was born in San Francisco with a dash of Wieden+Kennedy and NIKE tossed in for good measure.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on three projects. I’m almost finished with a sequel to Thorn City. The second project is a gothic tale that touches on my midwestern farm roots, my years living in San Francisco, and spans about eight decades, so it’s quite a departure from the fast pace of Thorn City. I’m also collaborating on a murder mystery series with my sister that takes place in a fictional town on the Puget Sound. It’s been really fun and motivating writing with her as we check in weekly and set goals.


Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:

Take a class, or join a writing group, and don’t be afraid to share your writing early and often with friends, family, and writing buddies. It’s scary and occasionally disheartening but I consider it a form of quality assurance. Am I hitting the right notes? Giving away too much too early? Are readers surprised when the big secret is revealed? If not, go back and edit, edit, edit.

I have many generous friends and family who read Thorn City multiple times and their feedback was invaluable. I was also fortunate to work with great editors, one that I hired to review my first draft, and the talented editors at Ooligan Press. The first read of their editorial letters was so painful, but so true. I took their advice, made the changes, and am really proud of where the book is today.

Great advice!

Author Pet Corner!


Hooper is a giant golden doodle who is one hundred pounds of pure snuggles.

He’s the unofficial mayor of our neighborhood in Portland. The kids at the playground all know him by name, and he has so many wonderful friends from Jonesy, Kali, and Diamond to Millie, Banjo and Osso.

You can follow Hooper on Instagram at @hooperdoodledog



Such a cute doggo!


Pamela Statz — Author of Thorn City

Thorn City

Pamela Statz grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, the twelfth of thirteen children. She attended UW Madison earning degrees in Journalism and History.

With four duffel bags and her goldfish Lucrezia swimming in a mason jar, Pamela flew to the West Coast at the cusp of the dot-com boom and never left. She’s worked in media and advertising in San Francisco and Portland for Lucasfilm, WIRED, Nike, and Wieden+Kennedy.

She currently splits her time between Portland and Manzanita, Oregon with her husband Justin Graham and their giant dog Hooper. Thorn City is her first novel.

Learn more about Pamela by following her on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Website

Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.

Leave a Reply