Crime Fiction Pretty Evil by Zoe Rosi
Fashion magazine editor by day. Serial killer by night.
Targeting rapists, abusers, paedophiles, and creeps, Camilla believes she is making London’s streets safer with every man she kills.
But when one of her victims’ bodies is found, the police start homing in on her. Are her killing days over, or can she outsmart the police?
“An erotic murder thriller for the Me Too generation…Reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada but with the violence, psychopathy, and gore of American Psycho…A unique, modern, and compelling read.” —Daily Express
“The ultimate revenge story.” —The Independent
“Dexter in stilettos.” —Keri Beevis, bestselling author of Dying to Tell and Deep Dark Secrets
“A kick-ass, sociopathic anti-heroine with a razor-sharp mind and an insatiable appetite for revenge: all the ingredients for a jaw-clenching, gritty, roller-coaster of a read.” —Carol Wyer, bestselling author of the DI Kate Young series
“Camilla is the new Villanelle, a character you know you shouldn’t love but you can’t help yourself! A delicious tale of revenge which left me wanting more.” —Gemma Rogers, bestselling author of Stalker and The Feud
“Rosi fires on all cylinders in this stylish erotic thriller. A dark, hugely enjoyable read that had me rooting for the cold-blooded killer.” —G.D. Abson, bestselling author of Motherland and Black Wolf
Zoe Rosi recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, PRETTY EVIL.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Definitely character! I had the idea for PRETTY EVIL back in 2019. I was working as a copywriter for a luxury fashion brand at the time, writing about beautiful dresses and gorgeous handbags every day, and I’d been re-reading American Psycho, one of my very favourite books. One night, a character appeared in my mind: a glamourous, poised, fashion-obsessed, violent, and deeply troubled female Patrick Bateman. Sort of like The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho. The idea immediately took hold, with the character’s name coming to me instantly: Camilla Black.
I knew I had to bring Camilla to life, but I knew that if I was going to make her sympathetic to the reader as a serial killer, she would have to have a moral reason or somewhat relatable sense of purpose behind why she kills. This is where the Me Too movement came in. It occurred to me that Camilla could specifically target rapists, abusers, paedophiles, and creeps, seeing herself as taking out the trash with every predator she kills. I decided to make her a sexual abuse survivor herself, giving her a personal interest in taking out abusive men.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I enjoy writing gritty, dark, edgy, and violent plotlines and themes. For years, I’ve been a true crime and forensics junkie, and I think in another life, I’d have liked to have been a police detective, but in this life, I just love writing crime. However, it’s important to me that my books stand up to scrutiny. I did a huge amount of research when writing my novel PRETTY EVIL in order to make my serial killer character’s attempts to evade justice realistic. She is extremely calculating in her efforts to outsmart the police, and I felt as though I was truly thinking like a serial killer when writing her, which was quite unnerving at times.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge when writing PRETTY EVIL was being in Camilla’s shoes. Without literally killing people, I truly tried to put myself in her mindset. Camilla is a very broken person. She comes from an extremely troubled background and has been damaged beyond repair. She is a sociopath through and through.
Initially, it was really fun to find her wry, dark, cold and cynical voice, but at times, the dark places she took me to were quite challenging. It actually took a few months after writing the book for me to feel wholly myself again. I’d been in a Camilla daze. I’ve never felt a character so deeply as I did with Camilla. It was a strange experience, but I feel it paid off. I’m very proud of her. She is an extremely twisted creation.
Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?
Probably my ability to write very erotic sex scenes. I’d never included explicit sex in my fiction prior to PRETTY EVIL. Camilla is bisexual and has quite extreme tastes bordering on BDSM. I wrote some very filthy scenes, which were fun to write and which a lot of readers have complimented me on! I’m sure some will be quite shocked and appalled too, but you only live once.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Camilla only dresses in monochrome. She dilutes her juice with Evian to avoid consuming too many calories. She lives in a flat in Mayfair, yet the real her resides in a garage in a rough part of London called Hayes. Camilla is not her real name and is one she choose via Deedpoll at 24 when she attempted to wipe her past and reinvent herself.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Maestra by L.S. Hilton and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis changed me.
I think both books are exceptionally clever and superbly written. You can feel when a writer is in a truly inspired state, and I sensed that both L.S. Hilton and Bret Easton Ellis truly embodied the psychopaths they created. They breathed life into their characters and felt them out fully, from the details of their lurid kills to their personal quirks. I tried to do the same when writing Camilla in PRETTY EVIL. I wanted to create a character that felt completely real, even if doing so was sometimes a dark and unsettling experience.
Zoe Rosi has a background in journalism and copywriting. She worked as a reporter for local and national newspapers before moving into the fashion industry as a copywriter. Zoe had four romantic comedies published before writing her debut thriller, PRETTY EVIL. Working in fashion sparked the idea for the book, which Zoe describes as ‘The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.’
To learn more about the author, please visit her website.
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