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In conversation with Lucy Foley at Emirates Lit Fest 2022

Previously a fiction editor in the publishing industry, British author Lucy Foley now writes full time and is a highly acclaimed contemporary, historical fiction and mystery novel author. Having ranked first on the Sunday Times bestselling author list, her popular works, The Hunting Party and The Guest List, have sold over a million copies worldwide. Her thrillers have also hit The New York Times and The Irish Times bestseller lists, been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards and selected as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year. 

How and when did you decide to write your first book?

“I wrote my first book while working in publishing. Being surrounded by books and writers was hugely inspiring and I also saw the whole process. I realised that the first draft of a novel is often just a mistake-ridden document, which made it all feel more accessible, somehow. I thought I’d have a go at writing myself and, after a while, I realised I had the beginnings of a novel!”

Tell us more about your writing process. Where do you draw inspiration from?

“I’m really inspired by location. In all of my books, that has tended to be the jumping off point for me. So in my three thrillers, I’ve wanted the location – a snowbound Scottish estate in The Hunting Party, a remote Irish island in The Guest List and a beautiful, eerie apartment building in The Paris Apartment – to feel like a character in itself. So I start with location and then work on character until I know my characters really well. Then the plotting comes in.” 

Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley

What can you tell our readers about your upcoming release?

“In The Paris Apartment, Jess turns up to stay with her brother, Ben. But when she arrives at his place, he’s missing and she begins to find some strange clues in his apartment that suggest something sinister may have happened to him. She also begins to suspect that one of the inhabitants of the building may have something to do with his disappearance. It’s one of those beautiful old buildings wrapped around a central courtyard so Jess can see glimpses into the other apartment buildings – rather Rear Window. The book is also a love letter to Paris and an exploration of the grime beneath the gilded surface.”

Tell us more about your sessions at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“I’m so excited about my three sessions. I’ll be taking part in a crime panel with Felicia Yap, Mark Billingham and Polly Phillips, a debate with Mark Billingham and running a crime writing workshop.”

Any tips for aspiring crime writers you would like to share?

“Read widely in the genre – and just in general – so you get an innate feeling for the shape and pacing of a good plot. Develop brilliant, complex, multilayered characters. I think crime or any kind of fiction works best when it feels like the characters are driving the plot, rather than the other way around. Take inspiration from films, TV, people and places.”


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