Interview with Cat Hickey, Author of The Bellhop Only Stalks Once

04 Aug 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, The Bellhop Only Stalks Once?

It’s a psychological thriller, in the vein of Janet Evanovich or Liane Moriarty in that it is not only suspenseful, but also has a sense of humor and very real, flawed characters who do the best they can in very strange situations. The main character is Chloe, who is just a typical Baltimore girl, but she finds herself involved in some serious criminal activity while on vacation in Costa Rica. She has no idea what’s going on at first, but the deeper in she gets the more she starts to figure things out, and she discovers quite a bit about herself along the way.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

There are too many authors to list here, I think! I started writing just after I read Watership Down for the first time, when I was just a little kid. Our family dog was the main character, and in the story her adventures took her to Tibet for a while, so I guess I’ve always been drawn to far flung locations! More recently, I’d say I’m immensely inspired by Liane Moriarty’s sense of characterization, in that as a reader I really relate to her characters, and also to Lisa Jewell, who puts normal characters in really abnormal sorts of situations, and it’s just very compelling.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

That’s going to be a weird mix! I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, and In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I think I’d want Leo Tolstoy (you didn’t give me any limitations, so 19th century Russian writers are fair game!) The dark way he views the human psyche has always intrigued me, and I wonder which life experiences made him feel that way about people.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love that moment when a new idea first strikes me, and I get down to outlining the book and it’s so full of possibilities and excitement. It’s absolutely the most fun part for me.

What is a typical day like for you?

I wish I could say that I wake up, drink a mimosa by the pool, then contemplate story ideas whilst lounging in a cabana. Wouldn’t that be great? But I teach at a university, and my class has gone online for the moment, so most days involve me running around my house like a crazy person, trying to answer emails, tripping over cats who want second breakfast, recording lectures for my students while trying to avoid being photobombed by said cats. If I can get all that finished, then I might get a few moments to get some writing done later on. It’s really not a glamorous sort of life at all.

What scene from The Bellhop Only Stalks Once was your favorite to write?

Without giving too much away, there’s a scene where one of the characters whacks somebody over the head with a kombucha bottle. It’s a scary scene, with a lot of danger, but I loved the incongruity of having the kombucha bottle used as a weapon, when it’s the drink of choice of peace-loving yogis and health conscious people.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I do! It’s from Dune, which I read as a kid, and this quote really stuck with me throughout my life. It’s “I shall not fear. Fear is the mind killer.” It helps me get myself together whenever I’m about to do something that scares me.

Cat Hickey is the author of the new book The Bellhop Only Stalks Once.

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