Why I chose a female killer

Louise Phillips, author of psychological crime thrillers, explains the inspirations behind her latest book Last Kiss.

Posted on March 2, 2015 in Guest Author
Tags: crime thriller, femme fatale, psychological thriller

The Femme Fatale concept is nothing new. Crimes of passion where a woman kills her lover because of jealousy, obsession or revenge, has fascinated us for centuries. Many of us are intrigued by the myriad of reasons why a woman turns into a killer, and the perceived fairer and gentler sex, is prepared to do so at times viciously.

People often ask where an idea for a novel comes from. With LAST KISS, it was a fictional character that wouldn’t go away. Initially, she appeared in two short stories, the first about a prostitute or call girl at an arranged meeting in an exclusive Parisian hotel, the second about a woman so obsessed by her lover, that the only way to keep him was to kill him.

Writing psychological crime fiction brings you to all sorts of dark and interesting places and as a crime writer I’ve written about psychopaths, people suffering from psychosis, memory loss and all sorts of human fragilities. When it comes to writing a crime thriller, for both the reader and the writer, there should always be high tension and a sense of dread running throughout. LAST KISS was certainly a roller coaster ride for me. a

My research on female killers and the psychology behind it, told me that the reasons why women kill are often very different to their male counterparts. They rarely kill strangers and there are usually mitigating circumstances, domestic abuse, self-defence or other conflicts. However, that isn’t always the case, and a female killer can be as deadly as a man, and at times more creative.

One of the explanations for their creativity is physical differences. In the past, the use of poisons was a preferred choice, compensating for physical deficiency with the added bonus of a woman not having to see her victim die.

I knew my female fictional killer wasn’t going to kill in self-defence, or due to any obvious mitigating circumstances. I also knew she would behave differently to a male killer and think differently.

LAST KISS was more than a story of obsessive love, or the myriad of reasons that a woman is drawn to kill. It started with a dark fictional voice, one who wouldn’t go away, but then a whole fictional world opened up for her, and the longer I spent thinking about this story, the more intrigued I became. No spoilers here, except to say, it places an ordinary woman, a suburban housewife, in an extraordinary situation, where a female killer wants a lot more than her husband.

There are many reasons why I love writing crime fiction, and one of them is the why behind a story. If there is an overall theme running throughout LAST KISS, it is nature versus nurture, and the dangerous fallout that happens when nurturing goes badly wrong. Within this fictional story, it becomes apparent that regardless of gender, human beings are capable of inflicting great harm on one another, and the darkness of places, are often within us.




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