Finding Fright in Books: Interview with Rebecca James

Happy Halloween everyone! How has everyone been? Since I am in Australia, I thought it would be nice to introduce the rest of the world to an Aussie YA thriller author who I've heard numerous of great things about. Welcome Rebecca James, author is Beautiful Malice and Sweet Damage!


Hey Rebecca! It's so exciting to have an Aussie author on Finding Fright in Books. Welcome!

Thanks very much for having me, Melanie!

You have written two books so far, Beautiful Malice--who was a female protagonist and Sweet Damage--which was narrated by a male voice. Which one was easier to write in and why?

I found Sweet Damage much harder to write. It was partly the male perspective (I had to work hard to keep my middle-aged woman's voice out of it) and partly the pressure of having a publishing deal. Initially I tried to write the book far too quickly which didn't help. In the end I just had to take a deep breath and calm down!

Are the names of the characters in your novels important to you? Or were they just randomly chosen?

I think I just choose names that I like. They're mainly all pretty classic, old-fashioned names--Katherine, Time, Anna--nothing too out there. But who knows, one day I might call a character Banana or Apricot just for laughs!

The first time I heard about your books, I found the titles eye-catching. How did you come up with such titles? After all, how can malice be beautiful and damage be sweet?

I'm glad you like my titles - thank you. And if they stand out and grab your attention then that’s fantastic because that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. Naming a book is a collaboration between the author and publisher, though the publisher usually has final say. Most often the title an author is using while writing the book is not the title that will be printed on the front cover. Things like author branding and name recognition (and other mysterious marketing type considerations) have to be taken into account and authors aren’t often very good at such things...

Us Aussies don’t celebrate Halloween much, but I have had children come to our door Trick or Treating—do you celebrate Halloween?

I don’t really but my kids are often invited to go trick or treating with friends. Last year they came home with a hideously huge bag of lollies so obviously there are a few people out there who stock up for Halloween.

How did you come up with the idea for Sweet Damage? What was your inspiration?

I was thinking of anxiety and how, for some people, it can develop into agoraphobia and become very debilitating. I imagined a girl trapped in a large house. Trapped, not by any physical means, but by her own mind. That’s how I came up with Anna and her beautiful rambling old house, Fairview.

Are you planning any more novels in the near future that you can tell us about?

I'm working on another book now. It revisits some of the big themes I explored in Sweet Damage and Beautiful Malice: friendship, love, murder, grief, betrayal -- all the juicy melodrama that I so love writing about.

The female characters in both Sweet Damage and Beautiful Malice seem awfully mysterious. We have Anna who is hostile and unfriendly and Alice, from what I gather from the synopsis is really dark and has a few secrets. Was it intentional to create mysterious female characters?

I guess so. I definitely wanted Anna from Sweet Damage to be mysterious. A great deal of the suspense hinges on not knowing what she is really like, or what is really going on in her mind. In Beautiful Malice, Alice is less mysterious than blatantly toxic, I guess. But, having said that, her motives remain a mystery until the end... I guess the point is that I’m interested in writing about all sorts of complex, interesting and three-dimensional females. Sometimes this means my female character will be a villain, sometimes she will be a heroine, sometimes she will be a contradictory mix of both...

Do you have any recommendations of some Aussie YA horror or thriller?

Some recent Australian releases that have me intrigued include The Last Girl by Michael Adams and Pretty Girl by JC Burke. They both seem to fit the bill if you’re into scary, thrilling reads. I haven’t read either of them yet but they’re both sitting on my bedside table waiting for me. They will be my treat when I finish my third book. I can’t wait.

Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca! You can also find Sarah on her website, her blog, and on twitter!

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  1. Great interview Melanie and Rebecca! I read a bit of Beautiful Malice the other day since I own both of them and it's really good so far! I haven't been able to get back to it but soon. I agree Mel, the titles of these books are really good.

  2. Thanks for the introduction. Love hearing about new-to-me authors.

  3. Fantastic interview! I loved both of Rebecca's books and found them refreshingly different and creepy. I loved the insight into why she wrote the books.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

  4. Thanks for the fun interview! This sounds fantastic and I'm definitely going to have to go check them out :)

  5. Sounds amazing!!! Love the covers to. Thanks for the giveaway.


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