The Opportunist by Elyse Friedman
Happy publication day to Elyse Friedman’s newest book, The Opportunist!!!! Thank to MIRA books for including me on the blog tour. I always love hearing behind the book so I have a Q&A with the author.
A deliciously sly, compulsively readable tale about greed,
power and the world’s most devious family.
When Alana Shropshire’s seventy-six-year-old father, Ed, starts dating Kelly, his twenty-eight-year-old nurse, a flurry of messages arrive from Alana’s brothers, urging her to help “protect Dad” from the young interloper. Alana knows that what Teddy and Martin really want to protect is their father’s fortune, and she tells them she couldn’t care less about the May–December romance. Long estranged from her privileged family, Alana, a hardworking single mom, has more important things to worry about.
But when Ed and Kelly’s wedding is announced, Teddy and Martin kick into hyperdrive and persuade Alana to fly to their father’s West Coast island retreat to perform one simple task in their plan to make the gold digger go away. Kelly, however, proves a lot more wily than expected, and Alana becomes entangled in an increasingly dangerous scheme full of secrets and surprises. Just how far will her siblings go to retain control?
Smart, entertaining and brimming with shocking twists and turns, The Opportunist is both a thrill ride of a story and a razor-sharp view of who wields power in the world.
Q&A with Elyse Friedman
Why do you choose to write thrillers vs. other genres?
The Opportunist is my first thriller and my most murder-y book. My previous novels were all literary fiction. I guess I wanted to try my hand at a thriller, because I love reading them, and I thought it would be fun to write one. I was right. I had a blast dreaming up all the twists and turns. It was like putting together an intricate puzzle. And Kelly, the feistiest character I’ve ever come up with, was a joy to write.
How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
The idea for The Opportunist started with a story I’d heard when I was a teenager, about a girl who lived in my neighborhood. I can’t go into detail because I don’t want to give away any of the plot points in the book, but the story shocked me and stuck with me. It was the seed from which the plot grew.
Have you ever actually scared yourself by what you've written?
There were certain passages in The Opportunist that made my stomach flip as I was writing them. And there is one scene at the end of the book when the main character, Alana, is alone in a sauna, that had me on edge.
What's the scariest experience you've ever had? ...and/or written about?
When I was thirteen, I was hanging out with some friends at Ontario Place’s Children’s Village. This was basically a two-and-a-half-acre playground that looked like something out of that reality show Wipeout—there were all kinds of obstacles to run through, or things to climb on or dangle from. I was moving through an area of hanging foam bags that swung this way and that, when I was grabbed from behind by a young man. He wrapped his arms around me, pinning my arms to my torso, and wouldn’t let go. I screamed at him, my friends screamed at him, and soon a bunch of strangers were screaming at him to let me go. But he wouldn’t. People tried to pull him off me, but he was giant and strong and refused to release his grip. In retrospect, I think he was on meth. It was pretty frightening. It lasted for several minutes and took three men to peel him off of me.
About the Author:
Elyse Friedman is a critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, poet and playwright. Her work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, Toronto Book Award, ReLit Award and Tom Hendry Award. She has also won a Foreword Book of the Year Award, as well as the 2019 TIFF-CBC Films Screenwriter Jury Prize and the 2020 TIFF-CBC Screenwriter Award. Elyse lives in Toronto.
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