This week we are fortunate to have a post from celebrated crime writer Louise Phillips, author of The Doll’s House – winner of the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2013. In this post, she gives an insight into the killer in her latest release, Last Kiss.
This is the first time I’ve written a female fictional killer and she was harder to write than I had first thought. I had no doubt when she began to form in my mind that she was going to be a memorable character, because prior to starting Last Kiss, she had turned up in two short stories. In the first time, she was a woman obsessed with her lover, who finally kills him viciously in a crime of passion. The second time, she was in a short story called ‘Role Play’, published in Revival Literary Magazine, where she appears at a hotel room to meet an older and rather unpleasant lover.
It took me a while to realise that she was the same fictional character, but when I did, I knew she wasn’t going away. She had a bigger story to tell, and it was up to me to do the telling. The early drafts of her narrative voice should have come easily, but despite meeting her already, there was difficulty getting her true internal voice. It was when I was away on holidays last year that I got the first proper insight into how she would sound. I was lying on the beach and even though the only paper I had to write on was a collection of napkins from a nearby café, thankfully, I had a pen, and she kept on talking.
I could describe her as a female Hannibal Lecter, although she doesn’t eat people, not least not physically. She is certainly dark, damaged and utterly capable of doing the most horrendous acts.
In Last Kiss we meet her at the age of 36. She has an obsession with the Tarot cards and lives a form of fractured reality. Her online tag name is Cassie4Casanova, and she has a series of doomed relationships with men. A keen interest in the eye of the camera, she also takes self-portraits, not selfies, as she states, ‘she doesn’t like to share’. Her murder scenes are recreations of the tarot cards, the hangman, the hermit and the tower. She is capable of invading her lover’s lives, including their partners, stalking, planning, waiting for her moment to pounce. However, she too is a victim. As a baby she was taken from her mother and raised in a house of evil.
You don’t always know when you’re writing a fictional story how it will all turn out, but very early on in the process, I realised her wickedness asked the age old question of nature versus nurture, and which would win out, having the strongest influence.
This fictional killer pushed my boundaries as a writer. I hope you agree she had a story worth telling.
Red Ribbons, the bestselling debut novel by Dublin-born crime author Louise Phillips, was nominated for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year award at the BGE Irish Book Awards in 2012. Louise won the award in 2013 for her second novel The Doll’s House. Louise returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. In addition to her three published novels, Louise’s work has been published as part of various anthologies and literary journals. She has won the Jonathan Swift Award, was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform, and her writing has been shortlisted for prizes such as the Molly Keane Memorial Award and Bridport UK. Last Kiss is her third novel and she is currently working on her fourth.