Sibling relationships drive the plot in Emilie Richards' 'A Family of Strangers'

The former family counselor found inspiration for her latest novel in a news article.
Emilie Richards
Emilie Richards
Published July 5
Updated July 5

Emilie Richards is a former family counselor who grew up in St. Petersburg. In her new novel, A Family of Strangers, she takes on the complexities of sibling relationships. The protagonist, Ryan Gracey, a true-crime podcaster, one minute is struggling to juggle her own life and the next minute finds herself caring for her sister’s children. Richards, who splits her time between Sarasota and New York, holds an undergraduate degree in American studies from Florida State University and a master’s in family development from Virginia Tech. Her other books include When We Were Sisters, One Mountain Away and No River Too Wide.

What’s on your nightstand?

I’m listening to Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Both books are carefully crafted, thoughtful and thought provoking.

I read that the idea for A Family of Strangers came from a news article. Can you tell us about your process, in particular about character development?

I love fleshing out characters, so I usually do a first-person character sketch and let the character tell me about their background, thoughts and feelings. These can go on for 20 pages, and, of course, during the process, not only do my thoughts about the character change and grow and his or her voice emerge, but new plot points take shape, too. I do this for every major character.