Q. All the Dangerous Things is the follow-up to your hugely successful A Flicker in the Dark. What does this story bring to the table?
Stacy: All the Dangerous Things tells the story of a sleep-deprived mother trying to find her missing child. It explores womanhood and motherhood, as well as the true crime craze and the murky morality associated with consuming that kind of content. There is also a heavy element of sleep psychology present in the book: it discusses both insomnia and sleepwalking, connecting the theme of extreme exhaustion with our main character, Isabelle’s, days of early motherhood when the sleepless nights seemed to pile up. Finally, Isabelle has a tragic history that is just as much a part of her everyday existence as her quest to find her son, which really asks readers to consider how past experiences inevitably color our future realities.
Q. All the Dangerous Things focuses on Isabelle Drake. Who is she? What’s in her past?
Stacy: Isabelle Drake is a young mother who wakes up one morning to find herself living in her own worst nightmare: her toddler son Mason has disappeared out of his nursery in the middle of the night while she was asleep in the next room. Like any mother, she dedicates her life to trying to find him—but after an entire year of little evidence and no leads, the case quickly goes cold and Isabelle develops a severe case of insomnia as a result. Not only does her lack of sleep lead to all kinds of problems like paranoia and confusion, but it also churns up unsettling recollections of her past, including a mysterious tragedy that struck her childhood home, leaving her questioning her own memories and mind.
Q. You’re a Southerner yourself, and set A Flicker in the Dark in Louisiana. What is the setting for All the Dangerous Things?
Stacy: All the Dangerous Things is set in Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. I am a Southerner, and because of that, I just really enjoy describing Southern settings. The little things I notice every day like the sounds of various insects or even just the feel of the air feels incredibly distinctive, but at the same time, each little pocket of the South is unique, and no two places are quite the same. With that said, the Louisiana setting in A Flicker in the Dark feels very different from the Georgia and South Carolina settings of All the Dangerous Things.
For this particular novel, I chose Savannah and Beaufort for a variety of reasons. I love the Southern gothic feel of the cities with their giant live oaks and wrought iron gates and dripping Spanish moss, but the largest purpose was because Savannah is known to be one of the most haunted cities in the country. There are graveyards scattered across the city, stories of death hovering over hotels and restaurants, and because Isabelle herself is so haunted by what happened in her past as well as her missing child, I thought putting her in a city that was also haunted would amplify those feelings to a suffocating degree.
Q. What are you working on next?
Stacy: I’m working on my third novel right now, another psychological thriller set to be published in 2024. It’s my take on a dark academia story, so it’s quite different than what I’ve published in the past—lots of characters, and of course as college students, they’re all much younger than the characters in A Flicker in the Dark and All the Dangerous Things, which means they have different backstories, insecurities and motivations I’m having a lot of fun exploring. I’m excited about it!
Stacy Willingham's Latest
One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.