Authors: Simone St. James
Thanks to my editor, Danielle Perez, for her sage help with this book, and thanks to the rest of the team at Berkley for their hard work and my amazing cover. Thanks to my agent, Pam Hopkins, for everything she does. Thanks to Molly and Stephanie, who read a draft of this book and told me it wasn’t terrible. Thanks as always to my husband, Adam, who understands my need for writing time and makes sure I have it. Thank you to the booksellers and librarians who work so tirelessly to get the word out about my books. And thank you, readers, the ones who keep picking up my books and talking about them. Without you, none of this happens. Thank you so much for reading my
The Sun Down Motel
SIMONE ST. JAMES
1. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story across two time periods and two points of view? Do you think it was effective? Why or why not?
2. Discuss how each of the victims were described in the media. Do you think the way the media characterized these women played a role in the overall investigation—and the failure by the police to catch the killer? How does their characterization compare to how victims are described by the media today?
3. From the beginning, Viv is determined to uncover who the female ghost is and why she’s haunting the motel. Why do you think this was so important to her? Why do you think she didn’t just flee Fell, New York, and the motel?
4. Viv, Carly, and Heather all have a somewhat morbid curiosity surrounding both the Fell, New York, murders and true crime in general, which reflects the fact that young women tend to be the biggest consumers of true crime content. Why do you think this is?
5. Discuss the ghosts that haunt the motel, especially Betty. What do you think each of them represented, if anything?
6. There are multiple instances where the women of this novel discuss what women should be doing to protect
themselves, although as Viv notes: “It was always girls who ended up stripped and dead like roadkill. . . . It didn’t matter how afraid or careful you were—it could always be you.” What do you think the author is saying about the experience of being a woman? Do you think the novel might have been difference if Viv and Carly were men? If so, how?
7. How are the concepts of female rage and empowerment explored in this novel, if at all?
8. Consider Alma and Marnie, and the relationships they formed with Viv and with each other. Why do you think they allowed themselves to become involved with Viv’s investigation?
9. Multiple characters throughout this novel end up returning to the small town of Fell, New York, or choose to remain there despite many reasons—and opportunities—to leave. Why do you think they are drawn to the town?
10. Building off the previous question, why do you think the author chose a remote town—and an even more remote roadside motel—for the setting of this novel? How do you think the story would have changed with a different setting?
11. Discuss the way the killer was finally stopped. Do you think those involved did the right thing? Do you think, especially with consideration of the time period, that they could have done anything
Simone St. James
bestselling and award-winning author of
The Broken Girls
Lost Among the Living
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time.