Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is the bestselling author of four previous novels and a recipient of the 2008 Crazyhorse Prize in Fiction. Her fifth novel, Fierce Little Thing (Flatiron, July 27), explores the troubling past of protagonist Saskia and her cohort of friends, all of whom dispersed as teenagers after committing a mysterious crime for Abraham, the leader of a Maine cult. Decades later, they must confront their secrets after they each receive a series of threatening letters from an unknown source.

In this interview, Beverly-Whittemore discusses the people whose stories first inspired her tale, particularly the loved ones whose childhoods were enmeshed in communes from the West Coast to New York. She emphasizes her fascination with the idea that a young girl can do no harm, demonstrating how one character weaponizes a female antihero for his own ends. Finally, she explains her gravitation toward telling this story from Saskia’s point of view both as an adult and as a child, and touches on the “weather” systems that adults so often represent for children, acting as ambient forces for both good and bad.

From the Kirkus-starred review: “As the tightly structured chapters toggle between Saskia’s past and present, Beverly-Whittemore deftly ratchets up the tension by slowly, almost imperceptibly revealing the psychological troubles haunting not only Saskia, but also Abraham.…A compelling study of power, sociopathy, and the possibilities of survival.”