Joyce Maynard’s Mill Valley house looks out on Mount Tamalpais, the spectacular peak where the Trailside Killer roamed in the late '70s and early '80s, killing more than half a dozen women and terrorizing the community.

Though the plot of the author’s latest novel, After Her, is inspired by those true events, at its core it’s a story about how one family copes with the terror. The tale revolves around two sisters, Patty and Rachel, whose sleepy teenage existence is shattered as their father, the chief homicide detective, investigates the local murders.

While Maynard’s fiction makes for a page-turner all on its own, we think the back story is just as riveting:

PureWow: When did you first hear about the Trailside Killer?

Maynard: I had heard references to the murders, but I didn’t really understand the extent of it until two and a half years ago, when these sisters came to my writing workshop. One of them wrote about their father, who had investigated the murders. They were still trying to make sense of something that had happened 30 years ago.

PW: So did you base the sisters in the book in part on their experience?

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