Karen M. McManus
Karen M. McManus is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of young adult thrillers. Her work, which includes the One of Us Is Lying series, Two Can Keep a Secret, The Cousins, and You’ll Be the Death of Me, has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels.
Q. You’ll Be the Death of Me (November 2021, Delacorte Press) is the story of a ditch day going horribly wrong. Did you ever ditch school as a kid?
Karen: I did, but toward the end of senior year after I’d already been accepted into college, so about as tame a skip as you can get. Definitely no murder involved.
Q. Famously, The Breakfast Club was your inspiration for One of Us is Lying. What inspired You’ll Be the Death of Me?
It’s actually somewhat related; back in 2017, I was on a panel with other YA authors in Ireland, and we started joking that I should write books based on all the classic 80s teen movies. “Pretty in Pink with murder! Sixteen Candles with murder!” I can’t remember if someone suggested “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder” or if I just thought it. But once it was in my head I realized that it was a solid jumping off point for the kind of story I write because, like The Breakfast Club, it begins with the protagonists doing something they shouldn’t. The idea stayed in the back of my mind for a few years until I’d written other books that were on my plate, and then I thought, okay, what might a story like that look like? And the idea developed from there.
Q. There was some buzz about One of Us is Lying hitting the screen. What’s the status? How about future adaptations?
Karen: The show will begin streaming October 7 on Peacock. You can learn more and watch the trailer here: https://www.peacocktv.com/stream-tv/one-of-us-is-lying
I can’t speak to future adaptations yet, other than to say that there may be news at some point. Or there may not, because that’s how these things go!
Q. What have you read lately that you enjoyed? What are your favorite genres?
Karen: I’m a big fan of my own genre—there are so many fantastic young adult mysteries being published now. Some recent favorites include The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson, The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson. I’ve also been reading more nonfiction lately, and have enjoyed Crying in H Mart and Shadows in the Vineyard.
Q. One of Us is Back looks set to hit the shelves in 2023. What can you tell us about that one?
Karen: One of Us is Back is the third and final book in the One of Us series. It takes place the summer after the events in One of Us Is Next, so a couple of months have passed since that story concluded. The point of view characters are a mix of main characters from One of Us Is Lying and One of Us Is Next, and there are also flashback scenes featuring two characters we haven’t heard from directly before.
There was a subplot in early drafts of One of Us Is Lying that I had to take out while revising with my agent, because it was distracting to the main story. However, that narrative thread is still baked into the Bayview DNA, and it now serves as the backbone of the plot in One of Us Is Back.
Karen M. McManus's Latest
Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.
Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up . . . again.
So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say . . .
. . . until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.
It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.
Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?