After watching 20 episodes straight of the addictive Netflix show You, (where Joe, a handsome bookstore manager in love with a pretty girl turns out to be a serial killer who uses social media to plan his next moves), I needed more, so I pick up a copy of Follow Me by Kathleen Barber, and I am so glad I did!
Did you ever feel like someone was watching you? Following you? You thought you locked your door but now it is open…had you forgotten? Did you hear a weird noise? Are you going out of your mind? This spine-chilling psychological thriller sets you up to be looking over your shoulder at ever turn!
Audrey Miller left NYC to pursue a job offer in Washington DC where she will be in charge of social media for a museum. A perfect opportunity for this Instagram queen who chronicles her life for her online fans. She is on the quest for more followers, the problem is, someone seems to be following her in person, and with all her daily posts, she is easily tracked.
Is the obsessed stalker the creepy upstairs neighbor of the apartment she found on Craig’s list, the mysterious man that shows up around corners at the museum, or someone Audrey actually knows, like her needy best friend, or her on again off again boyfriend? I thought I figured it out a million times and had such fun guessing!
Oversharing on social media has its risks and author Kathleen Barber knows how to get in your head. I loved the fast pace and the oh what a scary feeling of Follow Me all the way through! Lock your windows and doors and enjoy this hair raising, goosebump producing psychological thriller!
Author Q & A:
Q: Assuming you are not a stalker, how to you get in the mind of one?
A: To be totally honest, getting into the mindset of a stalker was not as difficult as I had imagined it would be! I think that was because the character of “Him” isn’t totally unsympathetic. He’s not stalking Audrey because he wants to hurt her; on the contrary, he thinks he loves her. I thought a lot about how someone like him might rationalize his bad behavior—namely, he believes he and Audrey are fated and he’s just doing what he must—and then let that guide my writing.
Q: What was your process in developing a framework for Follow Me? Do you know all your characters before you start writing the story?
A: I usually start a novel by writing the scenes that are the most clear to me, and then constructing the story around those. In Follow Me, one of those scenes was the one that starts the book’s climax—and even though I wasn’t entirely sure what came after that, it helped that I knew what I was writing toward. I usually continue to develop my characters through writing (which means I have to go back and edit those traits in earlier on), but I did start the story knowing that Audrey, Cat, and “Him” all had voices that were essential to the story.
Q: What are your feelings about social media? Do you think it is necessary to have a presence on social media today and is it possible to overshare?
A: Although I’m often writing about the dangers of social media, I’m actually a big fan! I love how it allows us to not only remain connected with people we otherwise might lose touch with (high school and college friends, old colleagues, friends met while traveling) but also to make new friends (like those I’ve met through various reading and writing groups). That said, I worry that because social media is now such an integral part of our daily lives, many of us have become complacent about how much we share. We need to remember that we’re not all friends online, and that even seemingly innocuous details could help someone with nefarious intentions track you down or target you.
Q: Do you cover the camera on your computer? Should I???
A: I do cover my laptop’s camera—although it’s been uncovered quite a bit these days for Zoom dates! I recommend covering it when it’s not in use. I just use a sticker, but there are some neat little sliding tools that make covering and uncovering it a breeze.
Q: What type of research do you?
A: For Follow Me, I read all the articles I could find about remote administration tools—I’m not particularly tech-y and I wanted to make sure that I got the details right. One of the more fun bits of research that I did was interview someone who actually works in social media at the Hirshhorn, like Audrey does in the book. (I took some creative licenses with what she told me, though, so I hope she’s not too horrified when she reads it!)
Q: Are any of your characters based on people you know?
A: I never base my characters on real people, but many of them have little bits of me in them. For example, when I started writing Follow Me, I had recently moved to Washington, DC from New York, like Audrey, and, like Cat, I’m a lawyer (although I don’t currently practice). And, like Audrey’s ex-boyfriend Nick, I can never properly replace a lid on anything either!
Q: Have you always been a fan of psychological thrillers? What really scares you?
A: Yes, I’m definitely a thriller fan! The things that scare me the most are crimes that have no motive. I read a short story about a thrill killing when I was a teenager, and I’m still freaked out by it! Also, as a mother, I’m always terrified by books in which something happens to a child.
Q: What have you read recently that creeped you out, in a good way?
A: Jennifer Hillier’s LITTLE SECRETS, which released recently, had me on the edge of my seat (and opens with a small child’s kidnapping, so I was definitely scared). Also, I recently read an early copy of Layne Fargo’s THEY NEVER LEARN, which is dark and shocking and I loved it—look for that in October.
About the Author: