Author Interview: Christina McDonald

From the USA Today bestselling author of Behind Every Lie and The Night Olivia Fell comes Do No Harm, an unforgettable and heart-wrenching novel about the lengths one woman will go to save her son. We spoke with author Christina McDonald about the inspiration for Do No Harm, how the book reflects the opioid epidemic, and more!

“Gripping and unflinching, Do No Harm explores the ferocity of a mother’s love–and shows, in heartbreaking detail, how she’ll risk everything to save her child.”

Sarah Pekkanen, New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Between Us and You Are Not Alone

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I’ve wanted to set a thriller against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic for a long time because I’ve spent much of my adult life watching my brother’s addiction to opioids. The experience changed me and my view of addiction and opioids.

Then one day I saw a news story about a podiatrist who’d been arrested for starting an opioid ring. And it got me thinking: Why do people start selling drugs? Is it money, power, status? What would drive someone to do that? The only thing I believed I could ever understand, given that I’d watched my brother’s descent into addiction, was love. My children. I would do anything for them. And that was the moment I first thought of the story for Do No Harm.

I knew my story wasn’t going to involve a traditional hero; my protagonist, Emma, if anything, is an anti-hero. She does a lot of questionable stuff in her quest to save her son’s life. But this was intentional because I wanted to show the many sides to the opioid epidemic, how many levels of corruption and blame there are to go around.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I had the huge honor of being able to choose the narrators for Do No Harm, which doesn’t always happen. Kyle Tait narrates for Nate and Joy Osmanski narrates for Emma, and their voices so exactly matched my characters I knew instantly they were the ones for the job.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I haven’t received the audiobook just yet, but I was fortunate enough to be able to choose the narrators, so I’m excited to hear the audiobook in its entirety.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I am, although not as much as I would like at the moment, as I’m homeschooling my children, and children don’t leave a lot of quiet time for listening to books (lol!). My favorite audiobooks are in line with my favorite authors, including Mary Kubica, J.T. Ellison, Kimberly Belle, and Heather Gudenkauf.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Booksellers understand readers’ tastes better than any algorithm, so from a professional viewpoint, they are absolutely the backbone of any author. They create and celebrate their community, which is—particularly right now—more important than ever. From a personal point of view, I grew up with a love of books and spent my formative years browsing the shelves of indie bookstores like Elliott Bay Book Company and Third Place Books around Seattle, which is where I’m from. There’s a simple magic to the feeling of being in an indie bookstore that creates this sort of escape, like a refuge for people, and I’m no different.

Anything else to share with us?

I’m so excited for audiobook lovers to hear the amazing vocal talents of Kyle Tait narrating for Nate and Joy Osmanski narrating for Emma. I thought their voices matched so perfectly and that they really brought the characters to life, so I can’t wait to hear what readers think!

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