Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Q&A with Ellery Lloyd


Photo by Annick Wolfers



Ellery Lloyd, the pen name for husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos, is the author of the new novel The Final Act of Juliette Willoughby. Their other books include The Club. They are based in London.


Q: What inspired you to write The Final Act of Juliette Willoughby, and how did you create your cast of characters?


Collette: I have dual obsessions with female Surrealist artists and Egyptology – I would demand to be taken to the British Museum a lot as a child, and would spend hours looking at the Mummies, and I studied history of art at university – and I managed to persuade Paul that we should combine them in a book!


Character-wise, we knew the character arc of Juliette right front the start, and everything else was intricately woven around that.  


Q: How do the two of you collaborate on your books? What's your writing process like?


Paul: We start with a world that we are interested in – we really like our novels to feel immersive and glamorous – and we build the plot out from that.


We usually take a character or two each, and write them for the entire book which makes being two writers a benefit rather than a problem, but that does mean we need a really solid chapter plan before we start. So there’s a lot of thinking and plotting before we write a word. 


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


Paul: There are always changes, but we did know ultimately where this one would end. That isn’t always the case actually, but Juliette was such a strong character with really strong trajectory. 


Q: The writer Claire Douglas called the book a “stunning, intricately plotted and clever mystery that spans decades and has everything I love in a thriller: a rambling old mansion, a family secret, a missing person, a painting with hidden clues to a murder, and a love story at its heart.” What do you think of that description?


Collette: We think she is amazing – we actually have the same brilliant editor at Harper, Sarah Stein – and are so gratified that she mentions the love story, which is the first time we’ve woven one into one of our mysteries. 


Q: What are you working on now?


Paul: We are working on our fourth novel, which involves time travel…


Q: Anything else we should know?


Collette: We can’t write in the same room – Paul is a very noisy typer, and laughs at his own jokes as he writes them…


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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