The Girl on the Train Author Paula Hawkins Talks Casting and Her Next Twisty Thriller
British novelist Paula Hawkins, who got the inspiration for the plot from her own past commutes, wrote the bestselling thriller that has captivated millions of readers since its early 2015 release. Filled with dark twists and turns, the book explores the lives of three women connected to a seemingly idyllic suburban town on the outskirts of London who all harbor their own secrets.
The movie version switches things up by moving the action to suburban New York, but one thing remained the same: the tortured complexity of its lead character, an alcoholic divorcée named Rachel, played by Blunt.
“I was really happy about the casting of Emily Blunt as Rachel,” Hawkins, 44, tells PEOPLE. “I love Emily as an actor and I think she’s got amazing range and can do such varied things.”
Hawkins also raves about Justin Theroux‘s performance as Rachel’s ex-husband Tom, and Haley Bennett‘s star-making turn as the seductive missing woman, Megan Hipwell — a difficult role Hawkins says Bennett “did a really great job with.”
“I think all the performances are really good, it’s been a very happy experience for me,” the author says of the overall acting in the film.
WATCH: Why Girl on the Train‘s Haley Bennett Had to Be Brave to Take This Role
Hawkins also explains why she believes readers are connecting with the novel. “I think we are quite intrigued by what happens when things go wrong in ordinary people’s lives,” she muses. “This is not a film about serial killers or spies, these are people who could live next door to you. Maybe it’s a cautionary tale!”
As for what’s next, Hawkins tells PEOPLE she’s working on a new book she says is “another thriller [that] deals again with women’s relationships to each other.”
She adds, “It’s [about] sisters that have been estranged for a long time and the things that happened to them in childhood and how they’ve interpreted those things, [leading] to this big split in their relationship and in their family.”
And while that sounds mysterious and intriguing, it wouldn’t be a Hawkins novel without a some sort of twisted element!
“Of course there’s also dead bodies and that kind of thing,” the author jokes.
The Girl on the Train is in theaters now.