Author Lexie Elliott discusses her new psychological thriller, How to Kill Your Best Friend.
I interviewed Lexie Elliott about her life and career, what inspired her to write, and the story behind her new psychological thriller, How to Kill Your Best Friend.
Tell Lexie Elliott who you are:
My name is Lexie Elliott and I am the writer of 3 psychological thrillers, the most recent of which is How To Kill Your Best Friend. I live in London with my husband and two teenage children but grew up in Scotland at the foot of the Highlands.
I have a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Oxford University which has driven me to a career in usury banking and then fund management for many years, I juggled composing and a job in the city but as of 2021, I’m writing full-time (but not necessarily faster…).
I have always been a keen athlete and in 2007 I swam solo in the English Channel. I won’t do it again. In 2015 I ran 100km to raise money for Alzheimer’s Scotland (my mum was ill); I won’t do it again either. But I run or swim nearly every day.
When did the first want to write a book?
I can’t remember NOT wanting to write a book. When I realized that books are made by authors, I wanted to be a writer. Who am I now – Cheers! “It took me a while to get there.
When did you decide to start writing?
I wrote short stories as a child – luckily none survived – and later as a teenager, I was heavily influenced by Margaret Atwood’s Wilderness Tips, which really opened my eyes to what can be done in the musical short story genre; then for years, I wrote mostly short stories (and some awful poetry).
Much, much later, I found success in short story competitions, and that gave me the confidence to believe I might be ready to try Novel — but the real catalyst came when I lost my job at the bank during the global financial crisis: there was me time to sit down and try to write novels.
The first book I wrote was unpublished – French Girl was my second book – but I learned a lot from that first attempt and it also introduced me to my agent.
How long did it take you to complete your first book, from idea to publication?
years and years: more than a decade but less than two. I was working on my Ph.D. when I imagined French Girl; The plot of this novel revolves around an incident that takes place on a farm in France while a group of college friends is on vacation there, and the idea came to me while on vacation with a group of college friends on a farm in France I’m sure, you see the symmetry, but luckily no one died on the actual holiday!
It took me many years to start writing this story: I got my Ph.D. and then I started working in investment banking and had very little time or energy to write then I got married and had to balance my career and kids so I had even less time and energy!
I believe that the story I finally wrote benefited from the long incubation period and the resulting increased life experience; The finished product would look very different if you tried to write it in your 20s.
How long did it take thou from the initial idea to the publication of thine latest book?
Luckily it was much quicker than The French Girl! Certainly less than three years between the first idea and the hardcover edition. This may seem like a long time, but only fifteen months would be a good time to write; The rest was turning that initial idea into a full-fledged story, agreeing on the outline with my editor before I started writing, and finally the thorough writing process (editing, proofreading, marketing, etc.). Before).
People outside of the publishing world are often surprised by the unusually long time it takes for a book to get from print to the shelf, partly to allow time for advertising and marketing – and for critics to read what!
Focus on your latest version. What prompted you to write How to Kill Your Best Friend?
Shortly before leaving for vacation, my editor asked me the most important question: What are you going to write next? So I spent a good part of this holiday coming up with ideas. The title was the first thing that came to mind and was so intriguing: why the hell would anyone want to kill their best friend?
The story unfolded from there, heavily influenced by the charming and remote resort town I was in and of course my background: Given my long history as a swimmer, it was very easy for me to write a story in which swimming played such an important role – I certainly didn’t need to do detailed research for these sections!
What was the most challenging writing How to Kill Your Best Friend?
It took whatever time to find the right structure because of this novel. I really struggled to get there, but then I realized that the novel needed a double narration (the story is told from both Georgie’s and Bronwyn’s eyes). This was something I’d never attempted before, but I enjoyed the challenge of creating two different voices and I think it helped keep the writing process very fresh for me.
Who or what inspired thou when developing The Protagonist?
Given the double narrative structure, there are two characters: Georgie and Bronwyn. If I’m honest, my characters tend to come across as fully formed, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint a specific inspiration, but in this case, it was at least sung intentionally to make her current situation very different – Georgie seems to live imaginatively in Manhattan as a career-oriented bachelorette, while Bronwyn recently retired in and despite their shared past as a dedicated competitive swimmer, is a housewife living in suburban London. It’s interesting to see how their lives diverge and wonder why.
Who or what inspired thou to create The Antagonist?
To avoid spoilers, I’d rather not say too much about the antagonist!
What is the fire incident in How to Kill Your Best Friend?
The precipitating incident is the death of Lissa, a lifeguard, who drowned at an exotic resort she ran with her husband. Georgie, Bronwyn, Lissa’s grieving husband, and their mutual friends, gathered for a memorial service on the island, reflecting on the circumstances of Lissa’s death and those of the others.
What is the main conflict in How to Kill Your Best Friend?
In a double narration, the conflict has two sides! Driven by a desire to find out the truth about Lissa’s death, Georgie encounters many obstacles in her quest, while Bronwyn only wishes to walk past the memorial and resume her life with her family, but for her safety, she discovers that she needs to. to learn more about what could have happened to Lissa. Their different goals also cause conflicts in the novel.
Did you plan how to kill your best friend, or did you fly sitting in thine pants and kicking?
plot early for two reasons. I have to do it first: my publisher requests a plan! Second, it makes typing much easier. The sketch isn’t an order – the finished product can and will vary – but it’s a lot easier to make progress when you at least have a clue as to where you’re going.
Did thou get editing assistance and how much editing did How to Kill Your Best Friend?
My first reader is still my wonderful agent Marcy—who was an editor before she became an agent and provides insightful notes—and my next reader will be my editor at my publishing house. I’m a fairly clean writer in the sense that I don’t make grammatical mistakes and my plots tend to flow together; My first draft of a project could probably be published without requiring more than a quick review, but I don’t want that to happen.
Good editing is more than just touching up or changing lines; A good edit forces the writer to flesh out the story, either improving the pacing or changing the intonation to make the themes clearer. The second version takes these editorial notes into account and may require significant changes in emphasis and tone, but subsequent corrections are usually minor.
What is the first piece of writing advice thou would give someone that inspired thou to write a story?
Write! Don’t wait until you’re “in a good mood,” sit down and get started—and stick with it. If you’re serious, you have to take the time to write, otherwise, life will always get in your way.
Can you tell me which books you would like to write in the future?
There are so many possible projects in my head! But what I’m working on right now is Bright And Deadly Things, which will be released in February next year (it’s almost done and will soon enter the long writing process I was talking about). It revolves around a group of scientists (students, graduates, and fellows) who attend a university summer retreat in a remote and rustic chalet in the French Alps, but once they get there, strange things start to happen. parties disappear.
And finally, are you proud of your success? It was worth it?
Incredibly proud. Every novel, published or unpublished, is above all a tour de force; It’s worth finishing just one. However, what makes it even more valuable is the readers’ reaction. I realize that people today have so many different ways to spend their free time that it is an honor and a privilege for me if someone picks up one of my books. The fact that some of these readers are taking the time to write to me to tell me how much they appreciate my work is truly heartwarming. I would still write even if nobody reads my work, but it’s so much more satisfying knowing that people are reading and enjoying it.
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