The Escape Room (St. Martin’s Press) has the revenge plotting of The Perfect Girlfriend, the yuppie satire of American Psycho and the badass women reclaiming corporate America of Whisper Network. It’s also probably the best new thriller you’ll read this summer.
Sara Hall reluctantly joins a prestigious Wall Street firm to pay for her parents’ medical expenses and soon finds herself in over her head. The novel alternates between her perspective and another story, taking place at the firm sometime in the future, where Sara is gone and a handful of her coworkers find themselves trapped in a makeshift “escape room.” Though they’re told they were gathered in the elevator for a team-building exercise, they’re stuck in this claustrophobic space with no lights and no way to get out. What did they do to find themselves trapped there? How, if at all, is Sara involved? These questions kept me turning the pages of The Escape Room until I reached its gripping conclusion. Author Megan Goldin was gracious enough to speak with me and answer some of my (and soon to be yours, when you pick up the book!) burning questions:
First off, have you ever done an escape room?
I’ve done a couple of escape rooms. They were great fun. I have to admit that I am not very good at solving puzzles so if anyone ever gets locked in an escape room with me then keep your expectations low! I’ll be the one who might find the trap door or the hidden room by poking around. I won’t be the one who figures out the code.
Issues such as sexual harassment and the wage gap are brought to the forefront in this novel. How did the #metoo movement inform the writing of this novel?
The #metoo movement began as I was writing The Escape Room. Through osmosis it influenced my characters and plot as I don’t plan much and I absorbed a lot of what was going on in the world while I was writing the novel. Having said that, when I began The Escape Room, I wanted to explore workplace sexism because I’d had some unfortunate experiences and I’d spoken to other women who’d also faced barriers so it was always my intention to have some sexism in the novel, but the extent of it become greater due to the emergence of the #metoo movement.
Who are some of your influences within the thriller genre?
I enjoy thrillers ranging from espionage thrillers, to wartime thrillers, legal and crime thrillers of all types. Among my favorite writers are John Le Carre, Ken Follet, Lee Child, John Grisham, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter and Gillian Flynn.
What is the significance of a certain character reading Uncle Vanya when Vincent discovers her?
I think of Lucy as a mirror image of the characters in the elevator. She is brilliant, intense and not at all materialistic. She is one of my favorites in the book. As for her taste in Russian literature, it was an ode to a friend who loves Chekhov.
You’ve lived and worked all over the world. What inspired you to write a novel set in the New York finance scene?
I write in a very unstructured way in that I just start writing with the kernel of an idea in mind, a general sense of the story arc and that’s about it. So as I started writing what started out as a corporate thriller set in an elevator, it quickly became evident to me that the characters worked in the financial industry. Once that happened, I realized that there was only one place where I could set the novel – New York.
So when’s the movie coming out? Who would be your dream cast if there were to be a film adaptation?
Viggo Mortensen perhaps for Victor. Jennifer Lawrence for Sara Hall. As for all the others, I’m not entirely sure.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel about a rape trial. In fact, I’ve just finished writing it and we’re in the editing process. It was a very grueling novel to write both because of the subject matter and the way it’s structured but I’m really proud of it. I hope people enjoy it when it’s released.
The Escape Room is now available.
About Megan Goldin
Megan Goldin worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room is her debut novel.