Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Raymond Fleischmann Interview - How Quickly She Disappears

Photo Content from Raymond Fleischmann

Raymond Fleischmann’s debut novel, How Quickly She Disappears, is forthcoming from Penguin Random House (Berkley Books). Fleischmann has published short fiction in The Iowa Review, Cimarron Review, The Pinch, and Los Angeles Review, among many others. He earned his MFA from Ohio State University and has received fellowships and scholarships from Richard Hugo House, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and others. He lives in Bloomington, Ind., with his wife and three daughters.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
In the early 1940s, my paternal grandparents lived in Tanacross, Alaska, having moved there from southeastern Pennsylvania to teach with the Office of Indian Affairs. Although the characters in my novel have little in common with my family and their long-ago friends in Tanacross, the isolated Alaskan bush has long held my emotional attention. Some of the earliest memories I have are of my grandfather telling me stories about Alaska. I think that the Alaskan wilderness is a kind of character in itself, and a lot of my book’s momentum certainly comes from that physical setting.

Tell us your latest news.
Apart from busily promoting How Quickly She Disappears, I’ve been working on my second novel, which was bought by Penguin Random House (Berkley Books) along with my first. Set within a fictional town in the Pacific Northwest, this second novel is about a main character who unknowingly befriends the man who murdered her father. I’ve described it as House of Sand and Fog meets The Stranger Beside Me.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think I’ve taken inspiration from every book I’ve read and every teacher who’s ever taught me, but my children are probably the greatest current influence on my writing. I have three daughters, and that makes me think a lot about parent-child relationships, the bittersweetness of growing up and growing old, all sorts of things. And those topics are definitely making their way into my writing, both in terms of plots and themes.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Simply hearing from people who have read and enjoyed my novel. That’s been all kinds of wonderful: humbling, flattering, and just a bit surreal, too. I’m stunned and thankful for it every day.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope that readers connect with the characters in some way that feels genuine and relatable. These are fictitious people and events, of course, but much of the emotion behind them is my own, which is why it’s so touching and meaningful to me when readers do find that connection with the material.

In your new book; HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Set within an isolated Alaskan town in 1941, How Quickly She Disappears is about one woman’s search for her missing twin sister, a search both aided and impeded by the man she suspects is responsible for her sister’s disappearance. It’s a novel in part about obsession, grief, trauma, and the shifting bonds between parents and children.

For those who are unfamiliar with Elisabeth, how would you introduce her?

Nice but neurotic. The novel’s story puts her in a difficult position, to say the least, and she makes bad choices for good reasons.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Perhaps I’d introduce Elisabeth to Olive Kitteridge, if only because they’d either hate each other or adore each other, with no room in between.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers, what would it be?
Support your local bookstore whenever you can.

  • “The rattling buzz of a bush plane awoke her that morning and, as it just so happened, Elisabeth had been dreaming of her sister.”
  • “She takes back the picture and cradles it in both hands, as though it’s something delicate and small. An injured animal. A broken toy.”
  • “But they don’t understand what you do: Jacqueline isn’t bad—she’s fun. Despite her sass and scowls and short temper, you wouldn’t want her any other way.”
  • “Although all of the meat had been removed at the start of the summer, the cache still smelled like cooking rawhide, a scent so powerful that it made Elisabeth’s eyes water when she first stepped inside.”
  • “My proposition is very simple: I am going to ask you for three gifts, and for each gift you deliver, I will take you one step closer to Jacqueline.”
  • “When he moved, he lumbered; when he sat, he fidgeted. Whatever sense of canniness he’d once possessed was now replaced with an almost painful appearance of unease.”
  • “You’ve never felt so small and so alone, but you clench your teeth and shut your eyes and try to feel in control.”
  • “But as you move down the steps, you feel a stir of dread, too, as if you’re descending not into a basement but into a tomb.”
  • “The summers in Alaska had their own orchestras of droning insects, but here that noise was different than it was in Pennsylvania—raspier and more shrill—and the simple knowledge of this difference made Elisabeth feel suddenly, immensely close to John, if only because he would know this difference, too.”
  • “And again and again, rising through the hurried horror of her thoughts, she saw Alfred’s scars. She saw them bleeding, and she understood why they would, for some things are irrevocable and cannot ever heal, no matter the effort or bandage or balm.”
Last Halloween Costume you wore and when
It’s been a while, I’ll admit. It might have been Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

What cartoon character best describes you?

I’d like to point to someone clever and glamorous here, or even Calvin from the previous question, but it’d probably be Charlie Brown, if I’m being honest.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I spend most of my time either alone in front of a computer or trying to get my kids to eat their vegetables, so I’m not sure that I’m exciting enough for a movie.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Did I wear this sweater yesterday?

What are the 5 most beautiful things in the world, and why?
Moving water. A clear night sky. A forest filled with snow. Distant mountains. Children laughing. And why? Because they all remind you to slow down and appreciate the fleeting life we live.

Where can readers find you?
On January 14, which is the day my novel is released, I’ll be reading at Hugo House in Seattle, on January 19 I’ll be at the Monroe County Library in Bloomington, Indiana, and on January 29 I’ll be at Gramercy Books in Bexley, Ohio, which is just outside of Columbus.

The Dry meets Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense set in the relentless Alaskan landscape about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family …

It’s 1941 in small-town Alaska and Elisabeth Pfautz is alone. She’s living far from home, struggling through an unhappy marriage, and she spends her days tutoring her precocious young daughter. Elisabeth’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years earlier, and Elisabeth’s life has never recovered. Cryptic visions of her sister haunt her dreams, and Elisabeth’s crushing loneliness grows more intense by the day. But through it all, she clings to one belief: That her sister is still alive, and that they’ll be reunited one day.

And that day may be coming soon. Elisabeth’s world is upended when Alfred Seidel — an enigmatic German bush pilot — arrives in town and murders a local man in cold blood. Sitting in his cell in the wake of his crime, Alfred refuses to speak to anyone except for Elisabeth. He has something to tell her: He knows exactly what happened to her long-missing sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if Elisabeth fulfills three requests.

Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth lets herself slip deeper into Alfred’s web. A tenuous friendship forms between them, even as Elisabeth struggles to understand Alfred’s game and what he’s after.

But if it means she’ll get answers, she’s willing to play by his rules. She’s ready to sacrifice whatever it takes to be reunited with her sister, even if it means putting herself — and her family — in mortal danger.


An IndieNext and Library Reads Pick!

“Juicy” —Entertainment Weekly

“[A] brooding, suspenseful debut novel….part dark fairy tale and part astute character study of a woman” —The Columbus Dispatch

“A twisted thriller that will keep you guessing, this is a shocker of a story.” —Parkersburg News & Sentinel

“Raymond Fleischmann has blessed us with the rarest of gifts, a novel paced like a thriller but written with the aching grace of literary fiction. A gorgeously dark, harrowing debut.” —Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door

“Fleischmann has written a riveting and addictive debut. This novel disturbed me and terrified me, and yet I could not turn the pages fast enough. The writing is flawless, the story haunting, and one that will stay with me for a very long time.” —National bestselling author Diane Les Becquets

“Raymond Fleischmann is going to be one of the buzz names for the new year…A beautiful blend of high tension and literary elegance, both deeply moving and immediately engaging.” —Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of How It Happened 
“An author to watch on the literary-thriller scene.” —Booklist, starred review

“A compelling exploration of the power of unresolved grief and unanswered questions.” —BookPage 

“A masterful psychological thriller that, like the best of the genre, rests squarely on richly developed characters with complicated, sometimes malignant, motivations.” —Heather Young, author of the Edgar Award finalist The Lost Girls
“An utterly absorbing period saga—an epic stranger-comes-to-town mystery that reads as intimate as gossip…A graceful, daring, deathless story.” —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus
“Raymond Fleischmann has crafted a novel of the highest suspense…you’ll mourn how quickly the pages go by.” —Lee Martin, author of the Pulitzer Prize Finalist The Bright Forever
“Enthralls from the first page to the last. It’s both a gripping, cinematic mystery and a powerful exploration of the way that loss and longing tip into obsession.” —Lydia Fitzpatrick, author of Lights All Night Long
“A novel of exquisite suspense—exhilarating as a winter storm, with glittering prose and characters both haunted and haunting. I whirled through this book, and the final chapters left me breathless.” —Miciah Bay Gault, author of Goodnight Stranger

You can purchase How Quickly She Disappears at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RAYMOND FLEISCHMANN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann.


  1. I love to read, do crafts, crochet, knit, sew, do gardening, collecting, drawing, painting, yard-saling, writing poetry.

  2. When I'm alone I like to read or listen to music, really loud. Thanks.

  3. Some of my favorite things to do alone include reading, taking photographs, quilting, and sometimes watching tv for stress relief. I also like to work in our yard by myself (or with our dogs) by myself, where I do a lot of thinking and working through problems or topics or rehashing things until I feel more content than when I started.

  4. "Favorite things to do alone?" Reading political blogs.