Seven Lies is the most explosive debut thriller we’ve had the joy to review and we’re delighted to share with you a Q&A we did with debut author, Elizabeth Kay.
Elizabeth started her career as an assistant at Penguin Random House. She is now a commissioning editor and is simultaneously pursuing her passion for writing. Her debut novel, Seven Lies, will be published in 2020. She lives in London with her husband and newborn son.
A Crime Vault Q&A
- What inspired you to write Seven Lies?
I started writing as a child, and I continued to write on and off as a teenager and as an adult too. Before Seven Lies, I had been working for nearly three years on a novel that, despite my best efforts, just wasn’t coming together. I couldn’t create a sense of momentum in the story, and it always felt both too confusing and too simplistic. I was inspired to start anew – which felt like giving up rather than beginning afresh – by a song in a musical. It was one of those strange, pivotal moments that has really stayed with me.
I didn’t know at first what this new project should be, but there were a few things that felt interesting to me. I wanted to explore female friendship and, more specifically, a friendship that was grounded in genuine affection. I felt that a number of recent stories had tackled friendships that were built on something negative – jealousy, for example – and I was keen to move away from that. I also wanted to look at how someone might be changed by loss, and the shock of discovering that your life isn’t at all what you thought it might be. And I hoped that the book might feel a little sinister. Most of my favourite books have a dark undercurrent throughout, and I was keen to give that a go.
And then, as soon as I sat down in front of a blank page, determined to fill it, the protagonist in Seven Lies came to me. Jane is stubborn and independent, but she’s very lonely and quite vulnerable too. I wanted to tell her story, and I had to work out what it was. The other characters – her mother, her sister, her husband, her best friend – began to appear around her and the story started to take shape.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in publishing
I left university and went straight into a job that I absolutely hated. It was repetitive and thankless, and I was really miserable for those few months. I stuck with it for as long as I could manage, but I knew that I would never be happy in that role.
I was excited but a little nervous too when I was offered my first job in publishing. I was afraid that I’d feel exactly the same in this new position! But that wasn’t the case at all. I started in an administrative role, as a PA for a Publishing Director, and I loved it straightaway. There were repetitive elements – of course! – but I really enjoyed learning from the team and getting to grips with every aspect of the publishing process. I’ve stayed with that company ever since, and now work as a Senior Commissioning Editor, acquiring and publishing titles across lots of different genres.
- How does it feel being on ‘the other side’ (i.e. now as an author rather than an editor)?
It feels very different! My job as an editor involves finding wonderful books and authors to champion and publishing them from within a very collaborative and ambitious team. The day-to-day requires lots of communication and creativity, as well as seemingly endless emails!
But, as a writer, it tends to be just me and a laptop. It’s a much lonelier way to work, but I quite enjoy sitting on my own for a few hours and seeing where the words take me. At the moment, I’m really enjoying the balance of being able to do both.
- What’s the worst lie you’ve ever told?
I’m mortified by the first lie that comes to mind, so much so that I’m not sure I can share it here.
I will say, however, that I think I might be a pretty good liar. I don’t lie very often, but I tend to get away with it when I do!
- Tell us a secret that no one knows.
I am a very private person – or so I’m told! – but I don’t tend to keep many secrets. If you ask the right question, I’ll tell you the answer (aside from the question above!).
Those that I do have tucked away almost all belong to other people, and I couldn’t possible share someone else’s secret. I suppose a slightly guilty secret is that I absolutely love hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles that go on a slice of buttered bread!). You might have seen it featured in a Killing Eve episode when Villanelle is in Amsterdam. It’s a very common breakfast choice there, but everyone here thinks it’s a bit odd!
Seven Lies is out in audio and ebook and available in hardback from the 16th April.