M. L. Rio was born in Miami and raised in North Carolina by parents from California, and has never known how to answer the question, “Where are you from?” Her writing career began in elementary school with Reading Rainbow’s Young Writers and Illustrators Contest and a story about a girl with a pet dragon and the problem of how to hide it from her parents. She picked up a pen to write her first novel at the much more judicious age of twelve. Half a dozen ‘drawer novels’ later, she is represented by Arielle Datz of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, Inc. Her debut novel, If We Were Villains, was published by Flatiron Books in 2017, and has since become an international bestseller, published in twenty countries and fifteen languages. Her music writing is published in The Vinyl District.
In addition to her work as a writer, she is a recovering actor turned academic. She holds an MA in Shakespeare studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe, and a PhD in English literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research explores representations of madness and mood disorder on the early modern stage. She lives in Washington, D. C. with too many books, too many records, and a mutt called Marlowe.
About the book:
On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.
Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.
Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.