Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sarah Warburton's "You Can Never Tell"

Sarah D. Warburton lives in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. For ten years she was the lead writer for the monthly magazine UpClose. She has studied writing with Pam Houston at the Taos Writers Workshop and with Justin Cronin in Houston. Her work has appeared in the Southern Arts Journal, Women on Writing, Embark Literary Magazine, and Oyster River Pages.

Warburton's first novel, Once Two Sisters, was a Publishers Weekly pick of the week, a Crimereads recommended debut, and a PopSugar featured title.

[My Book, The Movie: Once Two SistersQ&A with Sarah WarburtonThe Page 69 Test: Once Two Sisters]

Here Warburton dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, You Can Never Tell:
In You Can Never Tell, Kacy Tremaine moves to a charming Texas suburb to escape her past, framed for embezzlement by her former best friend. As she navigates the unexpectedly cutthroat social scene of her new town, Kacy quickly makes new friends—preppy, inscrutable Elizabeth, chatty yet evasive Rahmia, and red-headed, unapologetic Lena. But good friends aren't always what they seem. Episodes of a fictional podcast alert us that Kacy’s living through a true crime story, before she even realizes it. This really is a suburban serial-killer story about friendship.

Kacy, my protagonist, comes to Texas doubting her own judgement. She longs for connection, but is still suffering from the betrayal of the last friend she trusted. But she’s compassionate, artistic, and fierce when she feels that someone she loves is threatened. I first saw Saoirse Ronan in Atonement and was blown away by the tension and power she brought to each scene. Through Lady Bird, Brooklyn, and Little Women (as the creative and heroic Jo March!), Saoirse Ronan combines inner strength with a subtlety that’s perfect for Kacy.

Elizabeth is a tightly-wound Canadian expat. The perfect hostess, super-organized and definitely hiding something. Kacy’s always second-guessing whether Elizabeth really likes her or is just being polite. I was absolutely picturing Blake Lively as Elizabeth.

Rahmia is funny and chatty, except when she absolutely shuts down. Kacy instinctively likes her and trusts her. In fact, defending Rahmia earns Kacy some new enemies in her new home. Comedian Sabrina Jalees would be a lot of fun in this role, offering support and humor as the story gets darker and darker.

Lena is Kacy’s next-door-neighbor. She’s brash, exuberant, and always up for an adventure. Lena makes Kacy feel fearless. Hanging out by the pool with margaritas, they promise each other that they’ll never become “Stepford Wives.” From drama to comedy, Emma Stone has the charismatic range and larger-than-life presence that makes Lena such a blast. And for her good ol’ boy husband Brady, I’d cast Josh Duhamel. He’s handsome, but with an edge.

Alondra Reyes is supremely self-assured and at the top of her profession. She drops into social events just long enough to interrogate Kacy about her past. Kacy’s terrified that Alondra will uncover all her secrets, but before long she’ll be grateful that Alondra’s a criminal defense attorney. I know Stephanie Beatriz is another actress best known for her role on a comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but her hard-edged, yet nuanced portrayal of Detective Rosa Diaz is perfect for Alondra.

And since this is a story about friendship, the fictional true-crime podcast that runs throughout the novel features two hosts in the style of My Favorite Murder or True Crime Garage. I’d love to hear Kristen Bell and Anna Kendrick for the sometimes snarky, sometimes sensitive banter of Julia and Helen, hosts of Crime to Chat.
Visit Sarah Warburton's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Warburton.

--Marshal Zeringue