Rebecca James' story has set the world on fire, with media coverage of the extraordinary rights sales for Beautiful Malice appearing in the Wall Street Journal and UK broadsheets as well as the Sydney Morning Herald (front page story), The Age and A Current Affair
'Truth or dare?' she asks me.
'Truth.' I laugh. 'Definitely. I can imagine one of your dares, and I don't fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.'
'Truth,' Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she's savouring the word. 'Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?'
'I think so. Try me.'
'Okay.' And then she looks at me curiously. 'So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?'
Katherine has moved away from her shattered once-perfect family to start a new life in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic Alice, and her life takes off in new directions. But there is a dark side to Alice, and as we learn the truth of Katherine's sister's death and Alice's background their story spirals to an explosive finale.
Rebecca James was born in Sydney in 1970. She spent her early twenties working as a waitress, her late twenties teaching English in Indonesia and Japan, and most of her thirties having babies and working as a kitchen designer.
She has started several university degrees but has yet to place any letters after her name. Despite her highly developed procrastinatory skills she has somehow managed to finish writing a book or two-and plans to spend her forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties finishing several more.
She lives in Armidale with her partner and their four sons.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Rebecca James
Interview with Rebecca James
Did you ever expect you would receive such extraordinary media coverage, for this book?
Rebecca James: Absolutely not. I was thrilled just to be published, in the first place. This didn't even come into my radar of the realms of possibility.
How did you come up with the idea for Beautiful Malice?
Rebecca James: I started in 2007 and the initial idea was looking at a toxic and dysfunctional friendship, I was interested in that. I then started the first line, which was actually "I didn't go to Alice's funeral" and I didn't know when I started what Alice had done to Katherine and then the next chapter I had Katherine with a secret and I didn't know what her secret was; for me it was a discovery as I wrote it.
So the storyline devolved as you wrote the book?
Rebecca James: Yes, which is different to the book I am writing now. I started this book with a much better idea of what would happen, in my head. I think (the writing process) could be different every time, in that case I didn't really know what was going to happen.
What is the book you are working on at the moment?
Rebecca James: It is a follow-up, it's not related to Beautiful Malice, it is completely stand alone, with a different title. I am nearly finished!
Are the characters of Katherine or Alice based on anyone you know?
Rebecca James: No, absolutely not! What is from reality is that feeling Katherine gets from Alice, that it's not exactly a friendship that is making her happy. Most people would have experienced that to some extent in a friendship or relationship. None of the characters are based on anyone really; I've never met anyone quite like Alice, thankfully.
How much of your inspiration for writing comes from real life and real people?
Rebecca James: I think everyone takes their own experiences and feelings and that is what inspires you to want to write about them and try and make sense of them on the page; it doesn't mean you've had those exact experiences as you change them in your writing. So, I am not sure how much of it goes into the book. Nothing is really based on reality, I like creating really quite extreme stories, emotionally extreme, none of that is really anything I've really experienced, although obviously I have experienced extreme emotions.
What is the best thing about creating a character like Katherine?
Rebecca James: The most fun thing, for me, is to look at all the emotions she feels and to try and work out on the page how you might respond to that situation or feeling with the safety of hopefully not having experience it yourself.