Julia Dahl, The Missing Hours Chasi Annexy) and jacket (Credit - Jack Smyth, Cover image © Olivia Milani/Millennium Images, UK)

Julia Dahl, The Missing Hours Chasi Annexy) and jacket (Credit - Jack Smyth, Cover image © Olivia Milani/Millennium Images, UK)

1. Each one of my novels has been inspired by a news story I covered as a reporter. I got the idea for THE MISSING HOURS in 2012 while I was reporting on the story of a teenage girl in Ohio who got drunk at a party and some of the kids there sexually assaulted her -- and took pictures. The next day she had no memory of what had happened, but soon the pictures started getting passed around town. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have been like to be that girl, her sister, her mother, her best friend. So I started writing.

2. I was once on an episode of America’s Most Wanted. In 2006, a young woman I profiled for Seventeen magazine was murdered. Her name was Tyeisha Martin, she was 19. The TV show wanted to do an episode to try and catch her killer, and they asked me to be involved. The episode aired in 2007, but 15 years later, her killer is still free.

3. I teach journalism at New York University. After more than a decade in a newsroom covering crime, my faith in human beings was pretty low – but when I started teaching university students, it shot back up. Our world is facing dire challenges, but the young people I teach are passionate and open-minded and I’m convinced they’re up to the challenge of cleaning up our messes.

4. I was a varsity cheerleader in high school. I was very small as a teen and I was the girl they threw in the air; the “flyer.” We were pretty good! My freshman squad won first place in the county, and my varsity squad won sixth place in the state (I grew up in California – which is a big state!). When I got to college, I hid the fact that I’d been a cheerleader because I thought people would make fun of me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve embraced that experience and come to respect women whose feminism can encompass all kinds of endeavors.

5. I recently moved to the suburbs – and don’t hate it! I spent almost my entire adult life – 20 years – in New York City. I love the energy of the city, the diversity, the walkability – the restaurants! But three years ago my husband and son and I decamped to a small town about 40 miles north on the Hudson River. I wouldn’t have wanted to live here as a younger person, but in my 40s, with a small child, it’s great. And…it’s the setting for the mystery novel I’m writing now!

6. I do my best writing while walking. Sitting in a chair and staring at a blank screen is often terrifying. When I’m stuck, I take a walk and it almost always helps me work out whatever knot I’ve encountered. I used to carry a notebook and stop to write down ideas or snippets of dialogue, now I used the voice record on my phone and dictate.

7. I’m happiest in the water. I grew up in California and have been swimming since before I was a year old. Give me any body of water – swimming pool, lake, ocean, creek, river – and I’ll jump in. Floating, face up to the sky, is truly my happy place.