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For Chandler Baker, 2019 is turning out to be a very good year.
Her sixth book, Whisper Network, debuted July 2. But that’s not all. Actress Reese Witherspoon gave it an almost-immediate thumbs-up, making it a coveted Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick.
"I’m so excited to add another great book to your beach bag! My July book pick is Whisper Network by Chandler Baker," Witherspoon wrote. "This story is a workplace murder mystery that happens in today’s #MeToo era. It’s honest, timely and completely thrilling — I was so surprised to find out who the murderer was!"
Whisper Network is Baker’s first adult novel. She’s the author of five other novels, all entries in the young adult market.
She will appear at the flagship store of Dallas’ Half Price Books on July 18.
In the meantime, we caught up with her in Austin, where she lives with her husband and soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter.
How did you feel about Witherspoon’s endorsement?
Oh, my gosh! It was amazing. It’s obviously affording me a much bigger platform than I would have had without her book club pick. I always love her tastes, so to be picked, to be included, is such an honor. I wanted this story shared with as many women as possible. Her audience and the women she’s appealing to are such a good match for Whisper Network.
The cover of Whisper Network, the debut novel of Chandler Baker.
Where are you from?
I was born in Dallas. I grew up in Lake Highlands until I was 10 and then we moved to Sarasota, Fla., where I graduated from high school. My dad was also a corporate attorney, which is the work I still do. I went to the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad, and then I came to UT Austin for law school.
What made you want to write an adult novel?
I tell myself that I’ll always follow the story idea first, then worry about what age group I’m writing for after. That philosophy really hadn’t been tested — until now. But when I started writing as a junior in college, rediscovering my love of reading for pleasure, I felt like I was devouring young adult fiction, because there was a real renaissance at the time of YA lit, and so that’s what I was reading and what I was really loving. So, it felt really natural to start there as a writer.
Now, more than 10 years later, I’m really involved in my book club, which has been going six years strong. A lot of what we read is women’s fiction and thrillers. So, that’s where my head has been. So, when I got the idea for Whisper Network, I felt like I knew what I wanted the book to feel like. I felt like the natural place for it was adult fiction.
What is Whisper Network about?
Four women that have worked at a company in Dallas for many years, and their boss, a man who has always been surrounded by rumors, is poised to become the company’s next CEO. It follows what happens when the women decide to take action and the catastrophic events that follow and shift their lives in the office and beyond.
Was any of this based on your own experience?
I could not have written it without my experience of working at a law firm first, just being a working woman and a working mom in the current climate. None of the events that actually made the novel happened to me, thank goodness, but the book has a Greek chorus. I pulled the narration from my own professional life. It deals with such things as working-mom guilt and pumping at the office, constraints on our time, the motherhood handicap … those sorts of things are very true to my own experience.
Author Chandler Baker, who wrote the novel,
What are your thoughts about #MeToo stories in the current day?
I still think we have a long way to go. I think it’s still difficult for women to speak out unless you have a large public platform or some other means of systemic protection. I think speaking out about something still carries a really high risk for women.
Any movie or television possibilities for Whisper Network?
I’m going to plead the fifth, and you can take that as you will.
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