Helen Fitzgerald's Blog
February 6, 2016
People often say publication day is like giving birth. Here are five reasons why it’s not:
1. People are unlikely to tell you your baby isn’t as good as your last one.
2. No-one offers diamorphine to help you through it.
3. You don’t immediately lose weight when your book comes out.
4. The genre of your baby is obvious and does not spark heated debate.
5. No-one asks if you’ve already started making your next baby.
Viral’s publication day was a huge buzz, however, thanks to the wonderful Sophie Portas and Hannah Griffiths at Faber and Faber, and the incredible support I received from readers, bloggers, and fellow authors. Here are some of the latest reviews:
The Independent (Shirley Whiteside): “FitzGerald’s depiction of teens on a drink and drugs-fuelled holiday in a notorious party town feels unnervingly close to the mark. FitzGerald has a brisk, no nonsense writing style that works well as she takes a scalpel to a seemingly happy family, exposing its fault lines and petty jealousies. This is a fast-paced tale that never goes quite where you expect. Laced with FitzGerald’s trademark black humour, it is by turns funny and sad, scary and bittersweet.”
The Guardian (John O’Connell): “A nuanced and perceptive look at social media and misogyny.”
The Literary Review (Jessica Mann): “An absorbing story based on technology introduced more quickly than society can cope with it. Social life becomes unregulated, with nobody to make rules or enforce them. A dispatch from the front line of contemporary life to enlighten the pre-social-media generation.”
Daily Mail: “A fast and well-written thriller with a topical theme, this is a more thoughtful novel than just a mother/daughter/viral sex tape romp.”
The Financial Times (Lydia Winter): “Fast-paced, witty and touching, it also has an unexpected underlying message of empowerment.”
The Big Issue: “I’m a huge fan of Aussie crime writer Helen FitzGerald, and her next novel sounds like it’s been ripped straight from the headlines of a tabloid newspaper. A brilliantly breakneck and engaging thriller with all FitzGerald’s usual sass and panache, wonderfully realistic female characters full of flaws, muddling through the catastrophe of life as best they can. Equally thrilling and moving.”
The Times Crime Club: “Cautionary tale for the modern age and an excellent entry point for young crime fans.”
SJI Holiday: Author: “Although devastating in parts, it is an expertly written, cautionary tale and it more than deserves to go the way of its title. Fantastic.”
Crimefictionlover: “If you are up for a provocative read, which will fuel book club debates for months to come, this is just the thing.”
Ajoobacats Blog: “I could not put this book down and read it in one sitting, a definite must-read.”
The Crime Warp: “All too chillingly believable. I couldn’t put it down.”
Chick Lit Uncovered: “Explores the darker side to social media, a side in which a drunken mistake can be viewed by everyone within minutes…”
Snazzy Books: “A shocking and very topical novel that really made me think about the effect that the internet, and today’s ‘instant share’ culture has on society.”
Random Things Through my Letterbox (Anne Carter): “A roller coaster of a ride. It’s a portrait of a family, it’s a documentary about the power of social media and it’s blisteringly good. Revenge and tragedy, self-discovery, bravado and vulnerabilities, all of these and so much more. I have huge respect for Helen Fitzgerald’s writing.”
Read Rate Review: “Anyone who has ever filmed random events with or without permission, used social media and posted footage to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube etc., should read this book – and more importantly take note of the message!”
Celeste Loves Books: “I can see this book being on many peoples sunloungers whilst abroad this Summer.”
The Left Room (Steve Mosby): “From its attention-grabbing first line, through a story drawn straight from the headlines, it’s a novel that plays to all of FitzGerald’s strengths, and which is engaging and charming to the very end. Stylishly written, this is an incredibly funny novel, and ultimately a very touching one. That first sentence is certainly memorable – I’ll leave it to you to discover it – but it’s a testament to the strengths of the story in between that the last sentence, beautifully judged, is the one that will stay with you.”
And here are a couple of articles:
The Big Issue North: Q and A
Sainsbury’s Blog: On Blended Families
January 30, 2016
The girl in the short skirt is not a slut. She’s your cousin.
The woman who’s had too much to drink is not a slut. She’s your sister.
The woman with the large breasts is not a slut. She’s your mother.
The woman who’s naked on the internet is not a slut. She’s your first love.
The woman who enjoys sex is not a slut. She’s the girl next door, and the girl next door to the girl next door, and the girl next door to the girl next door to the girl next door.
When you feel the urge to say the word “slut”, try one of these two strategies:
Instead of saying the word slut, replace it with the word Emma or Beth or Katherine or Nayla or Maria – i.e. the replace it with the name of the girl or woman to whom you are referring.
Shut the fuck up.
Viral is now out on kindle – you can get it here now.
The posh paperback is out 04.02.2015 – you can pre-order here.
January 16, 2016
January 9, 2016
Viral: A slutty shameful book about slut-shaming
The first line of my next thriller, Viral, has the C-word in it. Not the Class-A one meaning vagina, but the apparently less heinous one meaning penis.
My publishers asked me to remove it. Booksellers scoffed and turned it down. Supermarkets have indicated that they won’t dirty their shelves with it. Basically, my book is doomed to bomb due to the C-bomb.
Actually, the line refers to a dozen penises. I thought about negotiating – eight cocks? Four cocks? Two cocks? – but that would have been silly. And I like the way twelve scans.
Viral is a thriller, so you could expect the first paragraph to describe the torture of a faceless woman or two. No-one would have a problem with that. That’s entertainment.
But to swear? To open a crime book with the voice of a frank and interesting woman? One who’s suddenly been defined by the world as a slut, as a whore, as the kinda cow who’ll say “cock” a lot? Goodness gracious, the buyers seem to think, why didn’t the author just murder the slag?
Viral came to me at the Harrogate book festival last July. At 3am, I ran up to my room and wrote down the first line. When I read it the next day, I was over the moon. In just a few words, I’d nailed the inciting incident, the voice of the character, and a problem hefty enough to drive the novel: Public shaming defines and destroys you – is it possible to shed? Is it possible to survive?
The line was all I needed to get going, and I wrote the first draft of Viral in two months. It was the best writing experience I’ve ever had. I am very proud of every line in this book. And I don’t apologise for the first one. I believe it’s the perfect way to start a story about social hypocrisy.
If it offends you, then head to the supermarket and grab yourself a wee yarn about a nameless prostitute getting raped in a basement.
(PS I don’t know why, but the trade paperback which is out in Feb is not showing on Amazon. Apparently it’s there somewhere, but I can’t find it. Kindle and the August mass market one are easy to find. Book depository probably best bet for the Feb paperback)
RESPONSES TO VIRAL SO FAR
A nuanced and perceptive look at social media and misogyny. (The Guardian, Best Thrillers Round Up).
A fast and well-written thriller with a topical theme, this is a more thoughtful novel than just a mother/daughter/viral sex tape romp. (Daily Mail)
My favourite contender for the inevitable title of “the next Gone Girl”. (Katy Guest Independent)
A dispatch from the front line of contemporary life to enlighten the pre-social-media generation. (Literary Review)
That first sentence is certainly memorable – I’ll leave it to you to discover it – but it’s a testament to the strengths of the story in between that the last sentence, beautifully judged, is the one that will stay with you. (Steve Mosby, author of The Nightmare Place and Dark Room, blog at The Left Room)
A sobering fable of savagery in social media, it combines impressive storytelling with the courage to tackle the ugliness lurking beneath the shiny surface of the modern world. (Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne novels)
Viral is not just about a mother seeking justice with all the tools of modern communication at her disposal, it is also about the relationships within a family itself – the bond between mothers and daughters, sisters and sisters – whether through blood or adoption. A rollicking read with all the ingredients of a bestseller. (J David Simons, author of An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful and The Land Agent).
My favourite opening line to any novel for a long, long time. And the book gets better and better from that point. (Luca Veste, author of Dead Gone and Bloodstream)
Finished Viral by the fab @FitzHelen. SO glad I said no to 17-yr-old going to Kavos. Gripping, horribly plausible and utterly shocking. (Tammy Cohen Twitter)
“Viral is a compulsive and compelling thriller, topical and emotional in equal measure. FitzGerald has thrown her convincing ordinary family into a terrifying chaos of shame, abuse and revenge. Utterly brilliant.” (Doug Johnstone, author of Hit and Run and The Jump).
Will be the most talked about opening line of 2016 – from Helen Fitzgerald’s latest, VIRAL. (Eva Dolan, author of Long Way Home and Tell no Tales)
‘Fresh and uncompromising, reliably topical and filled with unexpected reversals and twists, Helen Fitzgerald’s VIRAL is the latest gripping and darkly funny novel from one of crime fiction’s most daring and original voices.’ (Chris Ewan, author of Safe House and Dark Tides)
“A compelling tale about the darkest aspects of contemporary humanity told with intelligence and surprising wit.” (Lisa Ballantyne, author of The Guilty One)
A blistering tale of a mother’s revenge – unflinching and utterly compelling. (Louise Millar, author of Accidents Happen and The Hidden Girl)
I loved Helen’s book – it takes this 21st century subject by the balls and shakes it around with controlled yet rollercoaster abandon. In one page-turning thriller, she covers heredity, the internet, shaming, sexism, sibling rivalry and cultural identity. As well as being a rattling, sometimes graphically described tale, it is inherently warm-hearted, on the side of humanity. It has one of the best first lines I have ever read – up there with Anna Karenina – as well as a completely surprising, but beautifully structured ending. As a fifty-something woman, I particularly appreciate the character of Ruth, a 360 degree, complicated, fiery, avenging mother. A rare treat! (Julia Crouch, author of The Long Fall and Cuckoo)
It’s got all the juicy components to keep you hooked: a Magaluf sex tape, a suspicious supporting cast, an angry mother who is also a judge. Read it. (Stylist, ‘One of 2016’s New Gone Girls’)
September 30, 2013
I’m so chuffed with the response to The Cry so far.
It’s the daily deal in Kindle today if you’d like a read. 99p in the UK.
Here’s a few of the responses:
- Nominated for Guardian Not The Booker Prize
- Independent on Sunday: ‘It is astonishingly good. It is utterly harrowing, completely plausible, constantly nerve-shredding.’
- The Big Issue: ‘FitzGerald is an expert at pulling the rug out from under the reader’s feet. Thriller-writing of the very highest order…”
- Book’d Out: ‘Heartbreaking, shocking and utterly gripping.’ 5*
- So Many Books, So Little Time: ‘I would recommend this book to everyone, no matter what genre you like as it is a great read that packs a punch and leaves you wanting more.’ 5*
- The Herald: ‘It’s a book you find yourself greedily gulping down.’ Interview here.
- But Books Are Better: ‘Brilliantly executed… emotional whirlpool which leaves its marks long after the final page has been turned. Highly recommended!’
- Eurocrime: ‘A very difficult, but compelling, read … Helen FitzGerald deals with a hard subject very sympathetically and I shall look out for more by this author.’
- Secret Sales: ‘A non-stop psychological roller coaster from start to finish.’
- Book Oxygen: ‘Plenty of twists to keep us guessing… FitzGerald picks just the right small physical details to skewer each agonizing moment.
- Shaz’s Book Blog: ‘Once you started you just could not put down and even though I thought I knew how it was all going to end I was wrong…’
- Mint Velvet: ‘A physiological thriller with a moral dilemma that keeps you guessing at the turn of every page.’
- Liz Loves Books: ‘Beautifully written, characters you will relate to and feel for and a story that could so easily be truth… Cry? Oh yes. Indeed I did.’
- Crime Fiction Lover: ‘2013 has already proved to be a strong year for psychological fiction but The Cry is without question the best yet.’ 5*
Lovereading: ‘Highly recommended, read it and then all her others, particularly The Donor. She is very special.’
Just a minute, I’m busy: ‘I absolutely loved it … If you’re looking for a book that is guaranteed to generate some great discussions at your next book club coffee morning, then this one is definitely it.’
The Times: ’2013′s answer to The Slap.’ http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/fiction/article3872545.ece
August 27, 2013
My new psychological thriller is out on kindle today, and next week in paperback. I’ve been overwhelmed by the lovely things people have been saying about it. Here are some quotes.:
‘Heartbreaking, controversial, and absorbing, THE CRY is an important novel for the social media age. More importantly, it explores grief, relationships, and how each of us reacts to what is arguably a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s guaranteed to create discussion…everyone will have an opinion on this story. Mine is that it’s the best novel of 2013, which is no small feat given what has been a bumper year for fiction.’ Luca Veste
Full review here
‘THE CRY is an exceptional novel. Fierce, unflinching, innovative in both structure and style, this powerful noir tale is by turns devastating and uplifting. More than simply a blistering dissection of a toxic relationship placed under the most extreme strain, THE CRY is a plea to be heard and it deserves to bring Fitzgerald’s work to a much wider audience. ‘
‘An incredible read. I couldn’t put it down. A beautifully crafted, heartbreaking story.’ Full review here
‘I finished reading THE CRY last night and I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say how much I loved it. It’s beautifully written and absolutely heartrending. I loved every page and couldn’t put the bloody thing down.’
‘Everyone should stop what they’re doing and pre-order THE CRY by Helen FitzGerald now. Trust me. It’s stunningly good.’
Michael J Malone
‘Just finished an advanced copy of Helen FitzGerald’s THE CRY from those clever peeps at Faber. What a book! Superb.’
Beautifully written, characters you will relate to and feel for and a story that could so easily be truth you should certainly not miss this one. Cry? Oh yes. Indeed I did. Full review here
‘Just finished THE CRY by @FitzHelen – harrowing, clever and totally compelling. The best psychological thriller i’ve read this year. Buy it!’
Russel D McLean
‘THE CRY is excellent; unsettling and filled with moral ambiguity. Go read her. Now.’ Full review here
The English Bookshop (Sweden)
‘One of her best! (And I’d say that even if she wasn’t so intimidating!)’
‘Very much recommend it! (and I’d say that even if she hadn’t paid me to)’
‘I absolutely loved it … If you’re looking for a book that is guaranteed to generate some great discussions at your next book club coffee morning, then this one is definitely it.’ Full review here
J David Simons
‘I know she’s a mate but that shouldn’t stop me saying how much I enjoyed The Cry, the latest psychological thriller by Helen Fitzgerald. With a writing style that is fresh, crisp and pacy, with characters that are well-formed, authentic and brutally honest, Helen takes the reader on a dark and fascinating journey full of twists and turns and shifting loyalties. Set mostly in and around Melbourne, The Cry echoes with the dilemmas of Lindy Chamberlain as well as Katy and Gerry McCann. This is a writer at the top of her game. The book launches today (on Kindle) and hard copy next week. Read it now!’
In the rush to get copies printed ahead of pub date for Harrogate and Edinburgh Book Festivals, we forgot the dedication and Acknowledgements – so here they are.
I was sitting with you when I typed The End and then you died.
I know what you’d say: “Nellie Bly, it wasn’t all your fault.”
Brian Desmond FitzGerald
27-01-1925 – 06-10-2012
I asked for so much help writing this and I got it in bunches. Thanks to Luca Veste, Sergio Casci, Isabel FitzGerald and Liz Hopkin for reading drafts and giving me excellent feedback. Huge shout to Pete and Vicki FitzGerald, Neil White,. Doug Johnstone, Allan Guthrie and Felicity Pierce for practical advice on criminal law, tampons and the price of coffee in Collins Street. Thanks to my agent, Phil Patterson at Marjacq Scripts, for his notes, diligence and good humour. And to Sarah Savitt at Faber who took this on when it was just an idea and worked like mad with me on it.
Mostly, thanks to my Dad, who lived in Point Lonsdale, where this book is set, and loved it as much as he loved life.
You can get it on Amazon Kindle UK here
June 12, 2013
Quite a few bloggers might notice the following search phrase led to their site this week “helen fitzgerald deviant”.
I confess, it was me. And some who know me would agree the phrase is accurate.
A special thanks to all the bloggers who’ve been writing reviews/doing interviews about Deviant, including:
May 28, 2013
Check it out on Amazon.com!
Praise for Deviant
“Readers will enjoy Abigail’s blunt voice and savvy as she works to unravel the mystery of her parents’ pasts. FitzGerald’s experience writing thrillers for adults comes through in this atmospheric story that features codebreaking, an SF edge, and many twists.”
“FitzGerald excels with Abigail’s hard voice and in contrasting the rough, intimate streets of Glasgow with the glittering superficiality of L.A … a good, gritty drama.”
“Gritty, dark and hard, beautifully demonstrating Abigail’s inner reserves of strength.”
“Darkly engaging and full of suspense.”
─Lynn Weingarten, author of Wherever Nina Lies
“Fans of strong heroines will love Abigail. Deviant is fast paced and dramatic, played out across an international stage.”
─Carrie Arcos, National Book Award Finalist for Out of Reach
“The horrors of family and people run deep in this book, but [Abigail] is a strong character with steady morals. I look forward to reading [FitzGerald’s] next book.”
─YA Book Nerd
May 8, 2013
“THE CRY is an exceptional novel. Fierce, unflinching, innovative in both structure and style, this powerful noir tale is by turns devastating and uplifting. More than simply a blistering dissection of a toxic relationship placed under the most extreme strain, THE CRY is a plea to be heard and it deserves to bring Fitzgerald’s work to a much wider audience.”
Thanks Chris. Totally chuffed!
April 3, 2013
I’m not stalking you, Gillian Flynn, I’m offering you an opportunity. You’ll love my next book. I write like you. Which means we’re alike. Which means we’re friends, practically. We know each other. You’ll see this, once you’ve read my book.
This is what you’ll say when you do:
The Cry is exceptional, emotional, funny, heartbreaking, page-turning, unputdownable. It’s the book I aspire to write.
Ah Gillian. My Gill. There’s your blurb, on the front cover, and I am a Number One bestseller. We have so much in common!
Imagine if you missed out on this opportunity. I won’t let that happen, honey. We’ll get to know each other. You won’t realise it’s happening at first. You might notice that I retweet you (You might not. I’ll only do it every fifth tweet). You’ll see some lovely comments on your Facebook page. We’ll have a lot of friends in common. Google alerts will come in saying I mentioned you on my blog and you’ll find yourself saying: “Wow, this Helen FitzGerald really loves my stuff. We must be like-minded. She must write like me. I must read her next book now, but it’s not out till September. How, HOW can I get my hands on it?”
Now now, Gillian, you’re coming over a bit stalky, and no-one likes that. Be patient. We’re going to get even closer.
I’ll make the move when it’s time.