Thursday, March 22, 2018

Lexie Elliott Author Interview

Photo Credit: Nick James Photography

Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was "The French Girl", which will be published by Berkley in February 2018 - available to pre-order now!

When she's not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won't be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won't be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn't out of the question.


Tell us your latest news.
Well, I broke my leg — but you probably mean writing news... THE FRENCH GIRL launched in the US on 20th Feb! It’s been very exciting to see it out in the wild, and very gratifying that it has been so well received. I’m currently about two thirds of the way through my next novel, which will be published by Berkley at a date yet to be confirmed. Two thirds is a difficult stage — I’m excited, frustrated, energised and despondent about it, often all in the same day.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I read Margaret Atwood obsessively as a teenager, and her precise use of language and unflinching eye had an enormous impact on me; I’m very wary of the sweeping simile, I prefer small accuracies. Prior to that, Robin McKinley’s retelling of various fairy tales was the first spark that kindled my interest in multi-layered narratives.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?

Seriously, that’s what every author is hoping their readers are thinking...

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THE FRENCH GIRL?
This actually came after I’d finished writing, when I realised I’d named the dead girl (it’s not a spoiler, she’s dead by page two) after my husband’s first girlfriend. Make of that what you will...

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I cannot remember NOT wanting to be a writer. I have always written and I always believed there would come a time in my life where I could finally concentrate on writing (it turns out there is no such time — you just have to do it anyway!). I certainly didn’t expect to become a published novelist, but I absolutely yearned for it.

What part of Kate did you enjoy writing the most?
I love Kate’s bravery. She chooses to do things that I wouldn’t have the courage to do — such as leave a steady job to start up her own business — and that’s rather wonderful to write. She also has a lovely dry sense of humour that is not at all mean-spirited, which makes her very good company for a writer!

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Severine?
I don’t feel like I created Severine, she just turned up and refused to leave. There was never any intention to have her in the book at all, but she clearly had other ideas. That was the most surprising thing to me, that a character can completely hi-jack the author’s best-laid plans.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like to introduce Theo from THE FRENCH GIRL to Charlotte Lucas from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with a view to an engagement. It wouldn't be a love match, but rather a marriage of mutual respect and support, and Charlotte would be so much happier than I fear she became through her marriage to the odious Mr Collins.

  • "She strolls, she saunters, she claims territory as her own with a single languid glance; everything about Severine is on Severine’s terms."
  • “With her comes an insistent tide of memories, fetid and dank after being buried for so long, that will drag me down into their rotten darkness if I yield to them.”
  • “I wonder, is everyone now who I thought? Maybe nobody ever really knows anyone. And then I wonder: in that case, does anyone know me?"
  • "I’m the Kate I like the least, awkwardly folding my arms across my stomach at the glimpse of a camera, a half-hearted smile hung on my face.”
  • "I almost drowned in an army of girls just like her at Oxford before I learnt how to swim in a big pond. It’s important to kick."
  • “I should remember times like this, remember perfectly. I should bottle them somehow. You don’t know how many of these moments you might have in your life.”
  • "I think of Seb, unable to take his eyes off that slim brown ankle. Not just alcohol. Sex is a drug too."
  • "I wonder if they teach it in public school, this ability to take ownership of a room by an elegant display of casual relaxation."
  • “Time passes. I can’t keep it or save it or mark it — the ribbon slips through my fingers regardless.”
  • “And so the lovely ribbon of time keeps slipping through my fingers, and through it all, a walnut brown girl with impossibly slender limbs saunters by."
How many books have you written?
3.42 (Forgive me, I have a mathematical mind…)

This breaks down as THE FRENCH GIRL (one whole), an unpublished work written prior to THE FRENCH GIRL (one whole), three other manuscripts which I got roughly a quarter through on each (three quarters)...and I’m a very healthy chunk through my next novel, which will be published by Berkley (two thirds).

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Follow your passions, but don’t forget that the people in your life are what makes it worth living.

What's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Watch a movie snuggled up on the sofa with the kids. Saturday night is family night as neither of the kids have any sports training that night; if my husband and I are making plans for dinner with friends, we try to avoid Saturdays.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I think I timed it right, the late eighties/early nineties suited me just fine. I would have hated to be a teenager now, with the constant presence of social media. I would also have hated to be a teenager in the seventies, when it was much more difficult than today for women to gain access to a career on an equal footing with men.

What's your most missed memory?

I’m not sure how to interpret the question, so I’m going to strike out on my own path for this one. The memory I most miss is not my own, it’s my mother’s. She has Alzheimer’s, and she doesn’t always remember me. I miss her knowing who I am.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
If they don’t have to be a deceased famous person, could I please be Dame Judy Dench? She has had a startlingly long career in something she both loves doing and is highly respected for, and she has managed to do so without sacrifice to her personal life. She’s a national treasure over here in the UK, and she continues to be proof that age is no barrier to quality of work, whilst also using her platform to support numerous charities.

This is a very interesting question, I considered so many different people for this. In the end I realised I wouldn’t want to be someone who was either unhappy or unkind. Based on my entirely unscientific considerations, I’d say that the combination of kindness AND happiness appears somewhat rare in famous people through history!

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I was lucky enough to have a very happy childhood, I could pick any number of memories. One that my sister and I often recall is of her birthday party, perhaps her 9th, so I would have been six. My mother had made a beautiful cake in the style of a carousel, with a paper doily as the roof above the carousel horses. When she lit the candles, the doily went up in flames... That cake was talked about in the neighbourhood for years!

They were six university students from Oxford--friends and sometimes more than friends--spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway--until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group's loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive, and there are some people you can't forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.


One of’s and Cosmopolitan’s Best Books of the Month

One of PureWow’s 20 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018

“You shouldn’t have any trouble picking up Lexie Elliott’s debut novel, “The French Girl.” It comes with a warning, though, because you will definitely have trouble putting it down.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“The French Girl commands attention. The author provides the perfect dose of character development before unveiling eerie details from her cast’s past, ensuring that we’re properly unnerved when their lives begin to unravel.” —Associated Press

“The shifting dynamics within the group will keep the reader guessing until the end. First novelist Elliott has done a phenomenal job of combining a whodunit with a Big Chill vibe.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A gripping mystery that delves into the past and the darker side of friendships, this book will have you questioning everything you think you know. The French Girl is a fantastic debut about tangled relationships, shifting perceptions, and the memories—and people—that haunt us. I was completely captivated from beginning to end.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Stranger

“Scottish debut novelist Elliott, who holds a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford, launches a fiction-writing career with a smart, suspenseful thriller.” —Booklist

“A maelstrom of complicated friendships and shifting alliances. This addictive debut will keep you up late into the night!” —Karen Dionne, author of The Marsh King’s Daughter

You can purchase The French Girl at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LEXIE ELLIOTT for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The French Girl by Lexie Elliott.


  1. My most horrifying dream was when I could feel myself falling out of an airplane.

  2. My dream is a recurrent one that I've had since childhood: I'm on top of a high building and can't find my way down. My sister appears and offers to help but instead of guiding me to safety she pushes me over the edge & I fall, only to wake up screaming! Our relationship is fine but when I'm under stress, that dream still comes back.

  3. My most horrifying dream was when I dreamed I'd left my infant alone at home.

  4. "Most horrifying dream you have ever had?" It involved...breading....and frying....

  5. My most horrifying dream was that I was being chased by a man with a chainsaw. This was years ago, but I still remember it!