The Next Chapter·From the Archives

Listen to bestselling thriller writer Linwood Barclay's 2009 conversation with Shelagh Rogers

His novel No Time for Goodbye came out 10 years ago and turned the Canadian author into an international bestselling phenomenon.
Linwood Barclay is the crime author behind the international bestseller, No Time for Goodbye. (Bill Taylor/Bantam)

In 2008, No Time for Goodbye was Britain's bestselling paperback. The success it had there followed the novel all around the world.  It launched Linwood Barclay on a career as the international bestselling author of 18 thrillers. In No Time for Goodbye, 14-year-old Cynthia wakes up one summer to discover her entire family gone; 25 years later, she's about to discover what actually happened.

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the novel's publication, so we are revisiting the Canadian author's 2009 conversation with Shelagh Rogers about No Time for Goodbye.

The seeds of a good story

"I'm finally doing what I wanted to do. I always wanted to write, so I gravitated toward newspapers because I thought 'There's a way to get paid money to write every single day.' Around Grade 10 or 11, I discovered the mystery novels of Ross Macdonald, who wrote the Lou Archer series, and I devoured them. His novel The Goodbye Look was the first time I had read a mystery that had managed to tackle other things than just a locked room or 'Did the butler do it?' We were looking at social issues and at these dysfunctional families. There was something on a subliminal level that appealed to me about this book. I went through everything of his."

The family vanishes

"In some ways, the 25 years in No Time for Goodbye gives things time to take root. We follow the story of Cynthia whose family vanished 25 years ago. She's never known what happened to the family. Even though it was long ago, it affects everything she does. She has this feeling that, if she could lose all of her family in an instant, what's to keep it from happening to her as an adult. You are never over it. Of course, the hook for the thriller is that she is going to find out — and perhaps it is better if she had never known."

Lingering questions

"Cynthia struggles with whether it would be a relief to find out her family was dead or to find out they're alive and they didn't care about her. That's a question that tears her apart everyday for those 25 years. I think it would be worse to find out that they left you — one is horribly tragic and one is incredibly hurtful."

Linwood Barclay's comments have been edited and condensed.