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Lizzie Fry on smashing the glass ceiling and ‘second album syndrome’

Lizzie Fry on smashing the glass ceiling and ‘second album syndrome’

My latest novel Kill For It pits young and upcoming journalist Cat against veteran reporter Erin. Cat is tired of not getting ahead at work, so comes up with a sickening plan to (literally!) grab the headlines. The only one who can stop her is Erin, but in doing so she must put her own life at risk.

When I was thinking about my second novel, I feared the dreaded ‘second album syndrome’. After all, I had been delighted by my first novel, The Coven. Readers’ response was beyond my wildest dreams, plus it was translated in multiple languages … How could I replicate that reaction with Kill For It?

First, I had to decide on my storyworld. This refers not only to location, but ‘the space in which the story operates’. This covers not just location, but what I call ‘thematics’ – the point of the story, if you will.

My previous readers told me they enjoyed the South West locations and feminist themes in The Coven, so it seemed wise to start there. Since so many books are set in London, I chose Bristol because I live nearby. It is a city known for its culture, plus it was in the news for the toppling of the infamous Edward Colston statue during the BLM protests of 2020.

But Bristol is a BIG place, so what next … I decided to set the story in the workplace … but which one?

I trained as a journalist in the late 90s/ early 00s and have followed the evolution of journalism in the internet and social media era with interest. I felt that cutthroat world would present plenty of opportunities for my characters to ‘act out’!

Next up, my characters. I am OBSESSED with antiheroes, but the vast majority of antiheroes in fiction are male. I knew I wanted to present a female antihero who had considered reasons for what she did … Enter Cat, my antagonist in Kill For It.

I had to work hard to balance Cat’s repugnant actions with her REASONS for doing what she does. This is because female serial killers rarely kill JUST for the thrill of it … They usually have justifications behind their (terrible) actions and Cat is no different.

Second, I needed a protagonist. Enter Erin Goodman, a veteran reporter who has had all the same problems as Cat in smashing the glass ceiling at work … the difference is, she would never stoop as low as Cat. She is a divorcee, working hard to support her estranged family – yet she always gets overlooked at work.

I chose this again because of personal experience. As a mother for over half my life now, I know how hard it is for women to juggle work and their responsibilities … Even when we manage it, it’s frequently held against us. After all, men STILL don’t get asked about their families or caring commitments like we do!

But ultimately, the book takes aim at the SYSTEM, not men. Whilst there’s at least one male character who is repulsive, the point is not that men *as a whole* suck. Even female characters who don’t try and smash the system will lose their conscience and their humanity.

Lizzie Fry is the author of Kill For It, out now from Sphere Books. She lives in Devon with her husband, three kids and four cats.

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