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Honest Secrets: A Q&A With Muna Shehadi

Can you tell us a little about Honest Secrets?


Honest Secrets is the third book of my Fortune’s Daughters trilogy, probably my favorite of the three.  I love Olivia’s spirit and sense of humor and I really felt for her need to shine as brightly as her fabulous movie star mother. In this book I put her in situations that tore away her denial mechanisms, and matched her with someone who needed the same treatment. Ideally as we get rid of the lies we tell ourselves, and have to face our realities, we grow and find truer happiness. Maybe that isn’t how it always works, but in my story world I get to do what I want! It was hard ending the series, that’s for sure.  I love those women. Each book stands alone, but it was fun wrapping up the remaining loose ends and mysteries that started in Private Lies and Hidden Truths.


What was your inspiration for writing it?


I have always loved transformation stories, but my favorites aren’t the usual plots in which the shy/unattractive/poor heroine finds courage/beauty/riches. I like the other direction, where a successful/beautiful/wealthy woman is stripped of whatever she relies on to feel that way, and has to go through challenges to find what she needs inside herself. A backwards Cinderella story. This is one of those! I had Olivia living in LA and decided she needed an environment that was the antithesis of her showbiz career in southern California, so I sent her to Maine (my favorite state), to stay in a half-hostile environment in a tiny town on the coast.


What have you been reading in lockdown?


Besides the seven food magazines I subscribe to, Opera News and National Geographic . . .  Two of my book groups have continued via Zoom, but we’ve migrated to lighter reads. Between the pandemic and the US’s political mess, we’re not up for anything depressing. We most recently read, The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey.  On my own I just finished Breath, by James Nestor (I said Oh my gosh, listen to this! so many times that to shut me up my husband told me he’d read it himself.)  I’m now making my way through Thinking Inside the Box, by Adrienne Raphel a fascinating history of Crossword Puzzles (I’m a huge fan of word puzzles).


What are you looking forward to reading this year?


Next up for book group is Overstory, by Richard Powers. I also want to read The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn and Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat.  So many lovely books and so little chance of reading them all!  We do our best.


Muna Shehadi’s Honest Secrets is out on 4th February. Head over to Bookends’ Twitter to enter the publication day giveaway!