We got the opportunity to ask Lexie some questions about writing.
1. My first question…. Your background is in theoretical physics. Just what the heck is theoretical physics? For the lay person.
Basically, very mathematical physics! Typically it’s reliant on pen-and-paper or computer-based work, in contrast to experimental physics, which requires – you guessed it – experiments. Theoretical physicists try to come up with mathematical models to explain and predict natural phenomena.
2. Psychological thrillers are so popular right now. What is the draw for you to write that genre? Why do readers enjoy them so much?
I’m a very character-driven writer: I’m hugely concerned with my characters following credible narrative arcs, but I find it really interesting to couple that with the structure of a mystery and there’s a mystery at the heart of every psychological thriller). It gives a writer such a great framework in which to properly explore the relationships between their characters. For readers, there are so many competing demands for their time these days, so a book has to be truly entertaining to hold on to their attention, and thrillers tend to deliver well on that score. The best thrillers, though – at least in my opinion – are not simply a roller-coaster ride of a plot; they also connect with the reader on a deeper level through the depiction of interesting, relevant characters.
3. In THE FRENCH GIRL, as soon as I read that the characters are on “the perfect summer escape” I knew there were going to be problems. The story definitely hooks readers. Your thoughts?
I find setting very important for my writing, and I’m particularly drawn to scenarios where there is distinct contrast between what an onlooker might see at a casual glance and the very real undercurrents. A summer holiday for a group of friends is a really good set-up for that, and it’s also a situation that we can all relate to. After all, we all know that the bonds within any group of people are not all equally strong; if you tug too hard on any one of the strings, others might start to unravel…
4. Your books (THE FRENCH GIRL and THE MISSING YEARS) are both very focused on what happened in the past and the characters’s memories. Do you think memories are reliable? If so, why, or why not?
I don’t think our memories are reliable – or, more accurately, I don’t think our interpretation of our memories are reliable. Over time we change as people and we learn new information that we layer over the old, and thus our perception of any past situation changes too. For example, you might remember a specific action you undertook in very great detail, but over time you might attribute to yourself different reasons for doing it, reasons that are more in keeping with the kind of person you now see yourself as being.
5. I love the premise of THE FRENCH GIRL: that we all have secrets. Why is this such a popular hook?
I think it’s popular because it’s true! I’m not suggesting that all of us have deep, dark, murderous secrets, but which of us can be said to be truly transparent? As human beings, I think we’re constantly battling with the fact that you can never fully know anybody, and yet we choose to trust – and love – certain people regardless. Which, for a writer, begs the question: what happens to that trust and love when you learn something unexpected about a person?
6. I love the covers for THE FRENCH GIRL and THE MISSING YEARS. Is there a connection?
Aren’t they fantastic? The art department at Berkley produces such stunning work. A lot of thought goes into the artwork, and the fact that you can recognize the two covers as being part of the same family when they’re laid side by side – similar use of color and font, for example – is absolutely deliberate.
7. What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my third novel, which will again be in the psychological suspense vein. It’s very much early days on this project, so I can’t say too much about it right now, but rest assured I’m toiling away!
Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what book you’e looking forward to reading next. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.
GIVEAWAY: USA only please.