A Novel Composition

A pink flamingo twists in the wind among raspberry bushes and fig suckers fighting for open ground. Aggie Thompson’s white weeping mortar house sits demurely behind a front-yard secret garden that is beautifully unkempt and wild in the late summer months. The metal arbor placed cornerwise doesn’t invite, and it doesn’t refuse.

Inside, she writes as she has since she was a child. Marble composition books containing snippets of lines, dialogue, and character sketches stack up next to works by Henning Mankell, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and Sue Grafton. There, in a turquoise tinged mid-century modern room that effortlessly harmonizes with the uninhibited labyrinth outside, Aggie tells us, “I started a kajillion novels, and finished four full manuscripts,” after describing a childhood in which she put pen to paper as soon as she could, writing plays and forcing her friends to act in them.

“I’m not really sure how I ended up writing domestic suspense, except to say that I find the creepy side of suburban motherhood very alluring.” As Aggie and her Golden Retriever, Pistachio, embark on their daily amble over the DC line to the Spring Valley Compass Coffee, we can’t help but wonder if she is collecting more bits and pieces for one of her composition books. She refers to Compass as her Cheers, where everyone knows her “name, dog, and drink,” and we question, bemusedly, if she knows all about us, too.

In 2021, Forge (a Macmillan imprint) will publish Aggie Thompson’s first domestic thriller, I Don’t Forgive You. The novel is set in the fictional neighborhood of Westerly and has “no connection to Westbrook at all,” Aggie asserts with a twinkle. It follows Allie, an up-and-coming photographer who has just moved in with her husband and five-year old son. As she struggles to fit in with local moms, she discovers that someone is trying to destroy her life -- impersonating her on social media, and then framing her for a neighbor’s murder.

We can’t wait to get our hands on this book. And we are fascinated as we mull over a writer’s process, musings, impediments and successes--and just how exposed all of that needs to be in order to create something that reaches people. Aggie says, “The big external obstacle to writing is time . . . Juggling writing and motherhood is tough, but certainly possible. But if time is the external obstacle, the real threat to my writing is internal, and that’s the negative voice in my head. To get anywhere, I had to learn to silence it.” Learning to silence doubt is tantamount to taking a leap of faith. We watch, inspired, as we see Aggie fashioning her work out of life’s eccentricities, its gritty realities, and the lush, unapologetic growth popping out from underneath every polished boxwood.

When the winter cold settles in throughout the area, Aggie fastidiously prunes the crisp stalks and yellowed vines of her front yard. She tills the dirt with intention, opening space for nature’s quiet rise, a bold invitation to meet the things in life we shouldn’t even try to control. It happens in day minutes between typed lines, cups of coffee, and motherhood. The garden breathes in and out like lungs.

Read more about Aggie Thompson and her upcoming novel, find her on Instagram and Twitter, and say hello to her at Compass Coffee in Spring Valley most mornings. She also looks forward to dropping in on a local book club or two in the near future.