LISTEN to today's conversation!
A former professor of English, Les Becquets has served as a judge for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Maine Arts Commission, and has taught writing workshops at venues across the country, including the University of Mississippi, Auburn University, the New Hampshire Writers' Project, the Department of Forestry, Writers Conference at Ocean Park, Writers in Paradise, the Arkansas Literary Festival, the Telluride Arts District, and at shelters for Katrina victims. She is a volunteer at Back in the Saddle Equine Therapy Center and an avid outdoors woman, enjoying archery, bicycling, snowshoeing, swimming, and backpacking with her dog, Izzy. Before moving to New Hampshire, where she now resides with her husband, she lived in a small ranching town in Northwestern Colorado for almost fourteen years, raising her three sons.
Diane Les Becquets is a member of the New Hampshire Writers' Project, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and the Pen American Center.
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Les Becquets’ new thriller, THE LAST WOMAN IN THE FOREST (Berkley Hardcover; on sale March 5) is a different kind of terrifying: in it, one woman suspects that the love of her life, her recently dead boyfriend, may have been a serial killer—and she could have been his next victim. This novel of suspense is a conversation-starter about how sociopathic, dangerous people exist in our midst and they are often impossible to spot, as well as a discussion about how women, unfortunately, do not enjoy the same freedoms as men when it comes to basic safety and solitude. This story stuck with me long after I finished the last page. And Publisher’s Weekly raves, “[An] elegantly written thriller… Eloquent, detailed descriptions of nature and of rescue dog training, survival techniques, and the peripatetic life of conservationists enrich the narrative.”
Some really interesting talking points:
· Les Becquets’ late husband was a forester who told her about the Connecticut River Murders of the 1980s: at least six women were stabbed and killed along the Vermont and New Hampshire border. The killer was never found.
· The stories of these women affected the author as she painfully remembered her own assault: being held at knifepoint for 12 hours in a trailer when she was eighteen, an ordeal she narrowly escaped from with her life. (One harrowing scene in THE LAST WOMAN IN THE FOREST is based on this very personal experience.)
· Les Becquets sought out retired criminal profiler and author of several books, John Philpin, who assisted law enforcement on the Connecticut River murder cases as well as 200 others (like the Jon Benet Ramsay case) during his incredible career. Philpin also served as a consultant on the TV show “Dexter,” helping the writers get into the mind of a serial killer. With Philpin’s help, Les Becquets was able to create the character of Tate, a conservationist working with her novel’s heroine that is charming and loving, but after he dies some troubling details of his life emerge. The sensational Netflix series “You” starring Penn Badgley and Bravo’s acclaimed “Dirty John” starring Connie Britton (based on the Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name) also illustrate the all-too-real terrifying notion that someone you meet and start to like—or love—may, in fact, be very dangerous.
· The author did extensive research with canine conservation units in the American wilderness. She would be happy to talk about these dogs and how they help us conserve the wildlife inhabiting our forests.
Les Becquets was on NPR/Morning Edition for Breaking Wild in 2016 if you are interested in taking a listen!