Thursday, December 7, 2023

Q&A with Caz Frear




Caz Frear is the author of the new novel Five Bad Deeds. Her other novels include Sweet Little Lies. She lives in Coventry, England.


Q: What inspired you to write Five Bad Deeds, and how did you create your character Ellen?


A: So, weirdly, I got the idea for Five Bad Deeds after I became worried about a waitress I’d complained about! Although, for context, I didn’t go out of my way to complain! The manager simply asked if everything was OK as we were leaving, and for once, I didn’t say “Yeah, great thanks!” – I told the truth. She’d been really rude.


However, while she had been rude, I started thinking afterwards, “What if she’d just had a bad day? What if her husband left her that morning? What if her best friend was sick? And what if she really needs that job but she now gets fired because I complained!”


In the end it was all fine (she didn’t get fired – I went back a few days later and she was still there!), but it got me thinking about intention.


I certainly didn’t intend for her to get into trouble – I simply gave an honest answer to the manager’s question. But you just never know the impact your quick, impulsive decision or comment could have someone’s life.


And out of this Ellen Walsh was born - someone who would never intentionally make life difficult for someone else, but who is far, far from the “good person” she believes herself to be.


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Well, the way the story starts (the prologue) kind of dictated the ending, but I think the thing with this story is it’s not so much about the “who” but the “why,” and I always knew the why! 


I hope readers have fun working out “who” but I want them to gasp louder at the why!


Even though I plot out my novels in detail, things always change along the way though. Ellen’s character definitely changed. She became a lot darker than I initially envisaged. And the mid (ish)-point narrative turn didn’t appear until the second draft (I can’t say any more about that without giving away spoilers!).

Q: What do you think the story says about money and the impact it has on people’s lives?


A: It undoubtedly says that our relationship with money is complicated, personal to us, and quite often forged in childhood. Some people, no matter how much money they have now, will always have that fear of lack, that fear of not having or being “enough.”


This is certainly what drives several of Ellen’s decisions. She’s trying to outrun her childhood. 


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: You know, I can’t actually remember “choosing” this title, it just sort of appeared and stuck! Interestingly, it’s the first title I’ve suggested that both my UK and US publisher have decided to stick with, so there’s obviously something about it that works.


I think it sums up what the book’s about, but at the same time it’s quite ambiguous. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader to decide if each
“deed” is bad or not. Did Ellen do wrong each time, or would they have done the same in that same set of circumstances?


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m busy working on my next thriller, but it doesn’t have a name yet (or an ending!). It is quite different to Five Bad Deeds in that it’s told from one POV and features an older main character. In a nutshell, it’s about a woman in her late 50 who develops an obsession with a young, glamorous couple.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Erm…I don’t think so. Just that I’m on IG - @cazzifwrites, so do say hi. I can’t wait to hear reactions to the book – I think some of the characters will divide people and that’s completely fine!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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