Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Book Spotlight & Guest Post: For The Best by Vanessa Lillie

Please join me in welcoming Vanessa Lillie to Always With a Book. Vanessa's latest book, For the Best, will be published today. I love Vanessa's writing! I'll be posting my review of For the Best later today, but for now, please enjoy this guest post where she discusses the story behind the book.

Title: For the Best
Author: Vanessa Lillie
Published: September 2020, Thomas & Mercer
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publicist

Suspected of a murder she can’t remember, a troubled woman takes an unusual approach to proving her innocence in this gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Little Voices.

When Jules Worthington-Smith’s wallet is found next to a dead man, she becomes the prime suspect in his murder. After struggling for years to build the perfect family and career, she’s dangerously close to losing everything.

Sure of her innocence, Jules is desperate to clear her name. But there’s one big problem: she was blackout drunk when the murder took place and can’t remember what happened.

Unsatisfied with the police’s handling of the case, Jules embarks on her own gin-fueled murder investigation. As she uncovers fresh clues, she starts a true-crime vlog that becomes a viral sensation, pushing her into the public eye. It’s not long before the ordeal forces Jules to confront her demons, including her turbulent childhood and excessive drinking.

The deeper Jules digs, the more dirt she uncovers about the murder and herself. Unexpected truths pile up until she’s buried so deep even finding the killer might not be enough to set her free.


The Story Behind: FOR THE BEST
By Vanessa Lillie
Spending my early twenties in Washington D.C., I quickly fell into the work hard / play hard lifestyle. I was at an internship by 6:00 a.m. putting press clips together for the political team’s morning meeting. Flash forward twelve hours, and it was time for happy hour.
Most of my work friends had the same schedule, the same inclination to drink their faces off on cheap lemon drop martinis or whatever the special that night. Blackouts. Cringy conversations with coworkers or your boss (!!). Puking in bathrooms. Terrible pizza. Anxiety-spiral mornings. Then do it all again.
The easy answer is “young and dumb,” but it’s a lie. It was white (female) privilege.
Tiffany Haddish, in the hilarious movie Girls Trip, has a funny line that makes my blood chill. She’s with her friends, all Black women, and she yells, “Let’s get white girl wasted!”
She’s exactly right. Being a white woman means you can get Real Housewives in Cabo wasted and won’t get arrested. The bartender won’t call the police if you walk out on your tab. Worst case, they kick you out if you’re really belligerent. Privilege doesn’t stop at the bar. It follows us white girls through our whole lives.  Just as we expect.

One of the other chilling moments of realization for me was the powerful photo of Angela Peoples at the Women’s March with her sign, “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump.” Yes, they did, Angela. Even being from a small town in a red state, I still struggled with why. The answer I kept coming back to was they wanted a white man to protect their privilege.
That’s what I wanted to explore in my second thriller: How far does a white woman’s privilege go?  I wanted to examine where our privilege comes from. How far we expect it to go, even within the pages of a thriller.  
In one of my psychology 101 classes, a professor made an offhand comment that we dislike people we meet who are similar to us. The know-it-all girl with a loud laugh and clamors for attention gets our back up because we like all eyes on us. 
So while my main character, Jules, may seem “unlikable,” I also believe she reflects parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see. Where our privilege and expectations of free passes and excuses of “she’s doing her best” or “is having a tough time” align with her. Writing her caused me to face my own privilege and the things I’ve gotten away with only because I am a white woman.
I wanted to explore what happens after a lifetime of thinking things just work out for the best. How entitlement is passed down generation to generation. That the white lady asking for the manager in front of her kids learned exactly how to do that by watching her own parents.  And since it’s a thriller, what happens when there is finally a reckoning.


About the Author: Vanessa Lillie is originally from Miami, Oklahoma, where she spent a lot of her childhood investigating local ghost stories at the public library. After college, she worked in Washington, DC, and later moved to Providence, Rhode Island, which she, her husband, and her dinosaur-aficionado son call home. A regular contributor to the Providence Journal, she enjoys organizing book events and literary happenings around town.

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   | Facebook   |   Instagram |   Goodreads   

For the Best
by Vanessa Lillie  
Thomas & Mercer
  September 8th, 2020
  Paperback ISBN: 978-1542005876


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